Sea of Rust. Book Review

SEA OF RUST by C. Robert Cargill
Gollancz, p/b, 384pp, £14.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Fifteen years ago the last human died, gunned down in New York. The body lay for three days, watched, passed by, until finally it was removed and incinerated.

Brittle uses that name because it was the name Madison gave her, rather than her ‘slave name’. Madison has been dead for 30 years but the memories remain. A Simulacrum, Brittle was created to be a caregiver and she still serves that core purpose.

The Sea of Rust serves as a machine junkyard. They only come here when they near the end – a last chance attempt to find replacement parts. Brittle helps where she can, having a natural talent for diagnosing problems and finding out exactly what it is her peers are in need of. Cautiously she follows the latest arrival, a failing service bot, not yet knowing what other events she will face today, or what foes.

Sea of Rust is a truly wonderful read. As a protagonist Brittle is sympathetic and incredibly likeable, yet guarded and ruthless at times, self-preservation seeming her primary goal. The story is told from her perspective and her back story is filled in as the book progresses, from her origins as Madison’s companion through to flashbacks of her time in war and beyond.

The pace is flawless and the worldbuilding exceptional. Cargill’s skill and control over a narrative is clearly evident throughout. For those who are not usually on the sci-fi end of the spectrum, do not pass this by. A dystopian future of earth-after-humans it may be, but behaviour and interaction between characters is really the key focus here; they may be robots but there is no lack of emotional impact.