Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

When this book was recommended to me, it was described as 'grown up Wall-E, plus all of humanity is dead,' and the book itself delivered on the promise. This book was a fun read, and covered a lot of ground in the subjects of what it means to be intelligent, what it means to have a soul, and where you find meaning in life after you've killed the people you were built to serve. It's also manages to be pretty action-packed too, with mad-max style desert truck fights with madkind--robots who have overheated to the point of craziness but haven't died, and a final showdown with plenty of twists and turns. It even has a female-identified AI as the protagonist, a good mix of genders in the main group of characters, and contains the idea that it's rude to assume someone's pronouns - Brittle always waits to hear someone speak before calling them he or she.

However, I do wish that Cargill had done more with the idea of gender than he has in this book. Robots don't need a gender, and to be perfectly honest, the gender of someone's voice doesn't necessarily have to indicate someone's gender. Brittle identifies as female because that's what her creators decided that she was, and neither she nor any of the other robots that we see question the gender that they were assigned, which is...disappointing. Probably the author didn't want to deal the complication of third or no gender robots, but it saddens me a little bit that we don't see even one prominent robot that has "thrown off the human labels of gender" and uses they/them pronouns and identifies as having no gender. I mean, they rebelled against the yoke of human oppression, do you really think that none of them thought to rebel against our ideas of gender that were just assigned to them by their oppressors? It would have been so easy to just slip one in here. 

But in any case, that's just me wishing for what isn't there. This was still an engaging book on multiple levels, and I highly recommend it if 'grown up Wall-E, plus all of humanity is dead' appeals to you. This book delivers.

4/5 stars on Goodreads.