Review: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Series: (The Murderbot Diaries #2)
Published by: Tor
ISBN: 0765397552
ISBN 13: 9780765397553
Published: May 2018
Pages: 159
Format reviewed: eBook from publisher
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1)

This is easily one of the books I was most excited for this year (others that come close are the next two in the series, also due out 2018!)

Murderbot is a Security Unit calibrated and equipped to be the ultimate security guard, easily able to protect several people at a time. Usually called a SecUnit, our favourite calls itself Murderbot possibly because of an event that happened before the first novella, and the reason why it hacked its governance module (that also happens to have the nice added benefit of allowing it to download and watch terrabytes of trashy television).

On a previous mission well before the first novella, something went wrong and Murderbot killed fifty-seven members of a mining project. It was wiped (though not very well), installed with a new module (which it immediately hacked in the mindset not to allow the malfunction to ever happen again), and was sent out on another mission. Like the one we saw in All Systems Red. When that crew found out about its past they were understandably nervous, however its handled well and interestingly throughout – which is why I was so excited for this next instalment.

As a quick reminder, in the previous book we see that Murderbot is freed by Dr Mensah and offered save haven for the rest of its days, but unable to be happy with that Murderbot instead sets out to find out what really happened in that mining facility. With the ability to delete video footage and ‘encourage’ mechanical gateways on space stations and onto transport ships and the like, Murderbot finds an empty transport vessel going its way and starts the journey… again, running into more trouble than it bargained for.

What I love in this is how much sentience we see throughout. The empty transport ship becomes Murderbot’s heavily relied upon companion, and we see more of the sexbots (ComfortUnits) in this. The dry wit and the ability of sentient technology will always be endlessly fascinating, and though we may not see any of the original crew from the first novella we get even better characters in this one.

What I also love is that we get the answers Murderbot went there for, and they weren’t as one would usually expect (especially when there’s so few pages to work from). It’s not overly drawn out – once Murderbot gets there it methodically goes about what it has to do. It must be so hard as a writer to find things that can go wrong that don’t affect the cyborg’s efficiency as that just wouldn’t be believable. High five, Wells!

I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

 

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