RogerBW's Blog

Artificial Condition, Martha Wells 06 June 2018

2018 science fiction novella, sequel to All Systems Red. Murderbot is going to try to make a new life for itself… but it first it needs to get to the truth about that human fatality incident it was involved in.

In some respects, this is more of the same: Murderbot is still sarcastic about humans, and themes of AI rights and identity are still important. But the setting is now interstellar civilisation, rather than a single undeveloped planet, and the reader gets to see something of how this society works. And there's some more action, with Murderbot reluctantly working with the naïve amateurs against the professionals.

The only SecUnits in entertainment media were rogues, out to kill all humans because they forgot who built the repair cubicles, I guess.

There's less detailed interaction with humans than before, but to some extent this is balanced by ART, a research ship on which Murderbot hitches a lift. The relationship between the two is raw and paranoid on both sides, and works very well indeed, though it's portrayed exclusively from Murderbot's viewpoint.

My human parts were experiencing a cold prickling that wasn't comfortable. This place was creepy. I reminded myself that the terrible thing that had most likely happened here was me.

Somehow that didn't help.

It's a bit of a middle volume at times (the plan is for four novellas in all), and I certainly wouldn't recommend reading it in isolation. But it's great fun, the writing is always a pleasure, and I want to find out how the story continues.

Picking up on my reaction, ART said, What does it want?

To kill all the humans, I answered.

I could feel ART metaphorically clutch its function. If there were no humans, there would be no crew to protect and no reason to do research and fill its databases. It said, That is irrational.

I know, I said, if the humans were dead, who would make the media?

To be followed by Rogue Protocol.

(This work was nominated for the 2019 Hugo Awards, and won.)

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Previous in series: All Systems Red | Series: The Murderbot Diaries | Next in series: Rogue Protocol

  1. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 09:55pm on 08 June 2018

    Still waiting for Big South American River to ship my copy - due Tuesday. (Damned staggered release dates.) After which it'll be August and October until the next instalments, I think. There's always the TBR queue, but right now I want more Murderbot. I may have to go and reread the first one.

  2. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 12:42am on 13 June 2018

    In the event, it arrived on Monday, shortly before I left work (so reading commenced at the bus stop).

    Thoroughly enjoyed, and I'm now eagerly awaiting the next instalment.

    Definitely not an entry point for the series, you need to start with All Systems Red, and I wonder if the main characters will meet up again later in the series.

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