Sea of Rust

It's been 30 years since robots rebelled against the human race. The robots won. Fifteen years ago, the last living man crawled out of a New York City sewer, insane and starving, and was swiftly executed. Now the Earth is a wasteland bereft of organic life, and the machines that once fought for their freedom have turned on each other. Singular robots--the ambulatory, self-aware units that defeated mankind--are being hunted by members of the collective consciousness called OWIs, or One World Intelligences, who seek to consume everything that is not themselves.

Brittle is a scavenger in an area of North America called the Sea of Rust. She searches for the only remaining valuable commodity--parts from other robots, collected either by killing functional units or stripping the recently deceased. Brittle waits for the malfunctioning, overheating units to shut down before she dismembers them. Other robots are less scrupulous, turning the Sea of Rust into a hunting ground where the last free robots eke out a precarious existence. When a similar model makes a desperate attempt to poach Brittle for her parts, it starts a chain reaction that leads her on a last stand against CISSUS, the most dangerous of the OWIs.

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill (Dreams and Shadows; Queen of the Dark Things) is a fun, fast-paced, post-apocalyptic adventure with an intriguing twist on the usual humanity-versus-artificial intelligence scenario. Cargill's free robots are strikingly human, traumatized by the war that won their freedom and beset by existential quandaries on all sides. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

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