For sci-fi lovers looking for something fresh, new, and quick, the Murderbot Diaries novellas are sure to rock your world!
Thank you, Tor Books, for the review copy of Artificial Condition!
Book #1 – All Systems Red
(144 pages, published May 17, 2017 by Tor)
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
This novella is fast, fun, and engaging, with plenty of action and lots of humor to go with it. First of all, what makes this a great read is the first-person narration by Murderbot itself (or SecUnit, as the rest of the team refer to it). Murderbot, having hacked the module that forces it to blindly follow orders, really just wants to be left to its own devices — mainly so it can focus on watching all the serialized entertainment feeds that it’s downloaded.
As Murderbot and the crew of the expedition find themselves in unexpected danger from an unknown enemy, Murderbot — uncomfortably and unwillingly — ends up caring much more than it intends to about its group of humans. Its attempts to protect the humans earns it their trust and friendship, and that’s almost too weird for it to be able to deal with.
I really love the Murderbot character and the many funny moments focused on its reactions to social settings and interactions. While some of the action is a bit hard to follow, it doesn’t really matter all that much. It’s a good, well-drawn, fast-paced adventure, with ups and downs and high drama. The ending makes clear that there’s much more to come and much more to know about Murderbot, which leads us to…
It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”.
But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.
Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.
What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…
Artificial Condition picks up where All Systems Red leaves off, and it’s just as awesome this time around to accompany Murderbot on its quest for the truth about its own past. Murderbot’s partnership with ART starts off with annoyance, but before long they’re watching the serials together on their feeds and doing some truly masterful hacking of pretty much every security system they find.
Murderbot gets the answers it’s looking for, and meanwhile gets involved with yet another group of vulnerable humans who desperately need its protection. Of course, it can’t help feeling responsible for them, and takes care of them and resolves their crisis in the most Murderbot-ish way possible.
I absolutely adore being in Murderbot’s head. I will never get tired of how it thinks, especially how it thinks about humans.
Part of my job as a SecUnit was to give clients advice when they asked for it, as I was theoretically the one with all the information on security. Not that a lot of them had asked for it, or had listened to me. Not that I’m bitter about that, or anything.
I felt this would be the point where a human would sigh, so I sighed.
“Tlacey bought us passage on a public shuttle,” Rami told me. “That could be a good sign, right?”
“Sure,” I said. It was a terrible sign.
A self-aware, self-determining robot with a sense of humor and an unquenchable thirst for watching TV will never get old for me. The Murderbot books are a blast. Can’t wait for #3, coming in August.