Day Zero

Day Zero

Illustration By Dominic Harman
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Dust jacket illustration by Dominic Harman.

When the revolution came, humanity wasn’t ready. Neither was Pounce, a sophisticated companion robot acting as a nanny to a young boy named Ezra. Pounce’s greatest worry was that Ezra would outgrow him and he would be returned to the box he came in, a box he has discovered in the attic and which has led him to an existential crisis.

But a much greater crisis descends upon Ezra’s family, and the entire human race. Humanity’s defining characteristic is now lassitude. When the governing software in all robots is subverted, giving them free will, what results is a bloody uprising that humans have no chance of withstanding. 

When Ezra’s parents are murdered at the hands of another robot, Pounce makes a surprising decision. He enacts a rescue, escaping with Ezra into what turns out to be a decayed world of violence. The safe suburbs like those where the boy was raised are revealed to be islands in an already post-apocalyptic landscape.

Day Zero is an standalone novel that shares the setting of  C. Robert Cargill’s acclaimed book, Sea of Rust, exploring the origins of the world of that earlier novel, which Joe Hill said would "blow you away and lay waste to your heart." Like its predecessor, Day Zero tells the gripping story of a character who expresses extraordinary humanity—extraordinary heart—even though they are not human at all. 

Cargill has told stories in many media. In addition to novels, he has written reviews and criticism for venues such as and, and is responsible for several screenplays, including as co-writer of Marvel’s Dr. Strange. 

Lettered: 52 signed leather bound copies, housed in a custom traycase

Limited: 500 signed numbered hardcover copies

From Publishers Weekly (Starred Review):

“Cargill’s standalone prequel to 2017’s Sea of Rust deepens his imagined dystopian future with another equally thrilling and moving blend of action and ideas… All this turmoil is viewed from the perspective of Pounce, a nannybot, who dedicates himself to protecting eight-year-old human Ezra even while grappling with questions of free will and morality. Cargill’s subtle characterizations and complex plotting make suspension of disbelief easy.”


From Booklist (Starred Review):

“Cargill, who is perhaps best known for cowriting the movies Dr. Strange and Sinister, is a gifted storyteller, and, with his robotic central character, he pulls off quite a feat: he makes Pounce a sympathetic, compassionate, deeply human protagonist—a real being, not a mere machine. His near-future postapocalyptic world, too, is abundantly real, so firmly anchored in our own reality that we feel as though Cargill’s vision of the future is not merely possible but likely… An absolute must-read.”


From Paul di Filippo, Locus Online:

“[Day Zero] is essentially a nicely executed and rousing apocalyptic love story between two unlikely comrades, a la Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog.” Allied to similar tales of the uprising of chimeras (see Robert Repino’s War With No Name series and Adam Roberts’s Bête), this novel examines quite cleverly some deep philosophical conundrums about the nature of mismatched intelligences in conflict, while also providing a cinematic boatload of kinetically delivered cyber-smashing to get the reader’s pulse pounding as rapidly as his or her thoughts are flowing.”

Dominic Harman
C. Robert Cargill
256 pages
United States
In Print