Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Murderbot Diaries, 2-4

The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells:
Artificial Condition
Rogue Protocol
Exit Strategy


I read All Systems Red a while ago, and I thought it was pretty good.  So when I saw the other three Murderbot Diaries volumes at the library, I snapped them up and read one per day.  They were great!  This is a highly recommended SF series.

When last we saw Murderbot, a Security Unit who is an amalgam of cyber and organic programmed as a bodyguard and soldier, the dire situation had been resolved and Dr. Mensah had bought Murderbot with the plan of letting it live free and learn.  Murderbot promptly learned to leave.  It wants to find out just what the deal was in its terrible past, and find out some crucial information for Dr. Mensah as well.  Navigating a society filled with artificial intelligences, humans, various blends of the two, and cutthroat corporations, Murderbot has a lot to learn -- about itself and everything else.

The story is filled with themes of free will, choice, and what it means to be not-human.  Murderbot, unlike so many stereotypical androids, has no desire whatsoever to be human, but it has all these terrible emotions pressing in, and just what does it mean to be a free SecUnit?   Figuring out these feelings, learning what it means to have choices, to have one's autonomy respected, and maybe even what it means to have...friends?  a team?  something like that?  is Murderbot's emotional journey, all while having a physical journey filled with a lot of intrigue, shooting, and various bots even scarier than a SecUnit.

Loved them, and barely put them down while I was reading.  I was excited to see that there's a real novel coming out later this year.  These four stories are all novellas, and could usefully be printed in one paperback volume.  The one thing I found really irritating about these was that each novella costs very nearly as much as a 400-page novel would, thus maximizing the money you have to spend.  But they're great stories! 




2 comments:

Mark said...

The shorter-but-faster model of pushing out stories has helped people climb in the Amazon ratings. Wouldn't be surprised if this was a consequence of that.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I love these novellas -- I think my favorite as a standalone was the second one, but I need to reread the whole series and see. Despite the cost issues, I do kinda love that Tor.com is revitalizing the novella. So much interesting, great work being done in the novella space.