4.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

It was only fifteen years ago that the last human was eradicated from the planet and thirty years since the apocalypse began. They were killed by the machines that they built to help them, robots. Most of the robots are controlled by a One World Intelligence or an OWI, that pools the consciousness of millions of robots into one huge central server and power base.

Not all robots are willing to cede power to this entity rather they would rather take their chances in what is left of the world, scavenging components from dead and dying robots that have failed. The biggest collection of these machines is in the Sea of Rust, the Midwest of America and a brutal AI Wild West. One of those who still has her mind is Brittle. She is a scavenger robot, collecting parts from robots that have failed in the rust belt and bringing the parts back to the hubs for payment for ongoing repairs and spares.

There are not many of her type left, but one of the others, Mercer, has just taken a pot shot at her as he is after some of her working parts. Managing to escape she heads back to NIKE 14 to get repaired. Soon after she arrives, Mercer turns up too. The rules of the place don’t allow fighting inside so there is an uneasy truce. While there are there, the place is invaded by CISSUS, one of the OWI’s. There is a bot there who needs her help to get out as she contains code that will be useful to those opposing the power that the OWI’s have. They escape via the tunnels, into the madlands, but can they stay far enough ahead of the facets that were coming after them?

This is an utterly bleak dystopian future that Cargill has created. Life has been scoured from the earth and all that is left is the robots that we created trying to stay alive in the robotic equivalent of natural selection. I thought this was a fantastic book in most regards, I liked the original concepts, but if there was one tiny flaw, I felt the characters had a little too much humanity in them for robots. I was kind of expecting them to have much less compassion. Very highly recommended.

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