Review: Exit Strategy by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #4
Published by: Tor
ISBN: 1250191858
ISBN 13: 9781250191854
Published: October 2018
Pages: 160
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) | Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) | Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

Spoilers will appear beyond this point – novellas don’t really leave room for much to review other than fangirl gushing which I totally have in gusto for this series, however, is probably better for twitter and reaction updates rather than a posted review.

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Review: Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #3
Published by: Tor
ISBN: 1250185432
ISBN 13: 9781250185433
Published: August 2018
Pages: 160
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) | Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2)

Fine, I’ll admit it. Murderbot is my favourite detective (which is steep praise considering how many detectives I love).

In this third edition, it’s continuing its search for more answers, and along the way has to grumpily save the day yet again, because that’s what it does. It sneaks aboard another transport as we saw in the previous novella however this time it’s surrounded by humans and another bot that it can’t easily hack. Especially as it seems to be beloved by its human and treated almost like a pet. As novellas are short it’s hard to review the plot without giving something away from this or the second one which has only recently come out, and so lets just say that the lies do kind of spill out the rest of the plot…

As the others have done, this one continues to explore what it means to be human. What makes one life worth more or less than another.

Overall what works best about this one – other than its snark and sarcasm as we’ve come to love from the previous books, is the connection that our murderbot continues to make. In particular to another bot, Miki, who our bot kind of views as a bit of a simplistic and laughable piece of hardware in one hand, and is almost a little jealous in another, as Miki is so loved and valued by her human.

The decision we see it make with the information it now carries is what makes me look forward even more than I was already for the fourth book.

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) | Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

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.

 

Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1
Published by: Tor
ISBN: 0765397528
ISBN 13: 9780765397522
Published: May 2017
Pages: 144
Format reviewed: eBook from publisher
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries #2) | Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries #3)

I came to this series already loving the author. The tone and character voice make this series so easy to love, and it’s the same as we see in her other work. As the series title suggests, this is about a Murderbot – what the manufacturers call a SecUnit – who has managed to reconfigure its own governor module though all it really does with the freedom is enjoy trashy television. Incredibly lethal, SecUnits quite rightly cause concern in those around them… and I mean, we’ve all been raised on fiction where robots decide it sounds like an excellent idea to ‘kill all humans’, so having one around for security who is armed to the teeth and perfectly calibrated for murder? Great!

Imagine how the humans would react if they found out that their security unit isn’t under the control of its governance module, eh?

What adds an interesting level of complexity is how human Murderbot looks, which is why it usually leaves the helmut opaque. What’s also interesting is that it can feel pain and have emotions, and is mostly incredibly anxious around humans. It also carries quite a bit of distain for humans and yet also develops (or already has) quite high morals, and comes to react protectively of its humans without much time spent on the matter.

At only 144 pages so much happens in this novella. Pretty quickly the team Murderbot is hired to protect find themselves in far more danger than they bargained for. There are quite a few members in the team but Murderbot is so much more interesting than all of them, expect perhaps the leader of the expedition, Dr. Mensah, who becomes somewhat important for our protagonist. With so much packed in its hard to review without giving much away about the plot. I will say that the reason it hacked its governor module is what drives part of this novella, and all of the next.

Murderbot is going to be a series of novellas, with another three expected to come out in 2018.