RogerBW's Blog

Exit Strategy, Martha Wells 25 October 2018

2018 science fiction novella, fourth and final volume in the Murderbot series. Murderbot has some key data that will expose dodgy activities by one of the corporations… but the person to whom it would do some good seems to have been kidnapped. It's definitely not an emotional decision to rescue her. That would be a system error.

And Murderbot is still a voice of practicality among humans who are ready to dash off and get themselves killed. It's deeply cynical, of course, but that's entirely appropriate for the setting in which it finds itself.

(Possibly I was overthinking this. I do that; it's the anxiety that comes with being a part-organic murderbot. The upside was paranoid attention to detail. The downside was also paranoid attention to detail.)

While Murderbot has some human components and is a thinking being, it is definitely not human. A model for its behaviour would be an extremely non-neurotypical human, an unusually bright and antisocial introvert – the sort of character which many authors have tried to use as wish-fulfilment audience identification figure (at which point all their problems magically melt away), but here not only do the problems not melt away but they aren't really problems at all – just a different way of looking at things.

This was a stressful trip, right up there with the one where ART introduced itself to me by implying that it might delete my brain and the one where I kept thinking about Miki. And the one with Ayres and the other humans who had sold themselves into contract slavery.

I guess most of my trips so far had been this stressful.

And there's good world-building, and an Evil Corporation that actually acts like a self-interested corporation, as very distinct from a company run by evil people: it's all about money and self-preservation, not revenge, and in particular the idea that money can solve everything works both ways.

SecUnits who haven't hacked their governor module like me can't hack feeds and systems like I can. Well, they could try, but their governor module would punish them and their Sec or HubSystem would report them and they would end up with a memory purge. (So if you decide to hack your governor module, you need to do a good job and get it right the first time.)

There's even (at long last) a bit of murdering.

I've enjoyed every part of this series, but this and the first are probably the best. Taken as a whole it's a lovely progression of character. This volume certainly concludes the immediate story, but it's open-ended; a novel is expected, perhaps in 2020.

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Previous in series: Rogue Protocol | Series: The Murderbot Diaries | Next in series: Network Effect

  1. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 12:18am on 27 October 2018


    I'm still waiting for the UK release of this one, blasted staggered publication dates. Oh well, I'll have The Labyrinth Index as well, next week. (Not to mention a flu shot.)


  2. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 08:12pm on 08 November 2018

    It finally arrived on Monday, I managed to hold off opening it for a couple of days (The Labyrinth Index helped in that regard), and yes: it's very good indeed.

    Thoroughly recommended, and will look forward to the eventual novel.

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