RogerBW's Blog

Rogue Protocol, Martha Wells 04 September 2018

2018 science fiction novella, sequel to Artificial Condition. People are asking questions about the mysteriously vanished SecUnit from the planetary survey incident, and Murderbot (that same SecUnit) reckons the best way to distract attention is to bolster the case against the company which caused the incident.

So it visits an abandoned terraforming project to see what's going on there (after all, why would you abandon a terraforming project? And then not tell anyone why you did it?), and sneaks in with a human inspection team, but the high-altitude airborne base is not as empty as one might like to think.

On one level, then, this is a tale of an ingenious bioroid getting into a tough situation and prevailing by sneakiness (and explaining why it's bad to have humans working on security jobs). But on the other hand, and with three of the four planned books now out I think I can reasonably say it's a trend, it's also a tale of a deeply introverted and contemptuous being slowly learning what friends are.

Miki was a bot who had never been abused or lied to or treated with anything but indulgent kindness. It really thought its humans were its friends, because that's how they treated it.

I signaled Miki I would be withdrawing for one minute. I needed to have an emotion in private.

Meanwhile the background worldbuilding continues, with the setting looking increasingly dystopian; this is all provided in incidental detail rather than infodumps, and it's a very neat trick.

In some entertainment media I had seen, [robots] were used to portray the evil rogue SecUnits who menaced the main characters. Not that I was annoyed by that or anything. It was actually good, because then humans who had never worked with SecUnits expected us to look like human-form bots, and not what we actually looked like. I wasn't annoyed at all. Not one bit.

I had to run back the drone's camera feed to catch up, I had been so busy conquering that burst of non-annoyance.

I'm continuing to enjoy this series; there's not as much murdering as I might have liked, but the story has taken its own direction, and Murderbot is one of my favourite protagonists of the year. To be followed (and concluded) by Exit Strategy.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: Artificial Condition | Series: The Murderbot Diaries | Next in series: Exit Strategy

  1. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 11:08pm on 06 September 2018

    The Murderbot Diaries is an exceptionally fine series, and I'm enjoying the hell out of it. (So much so that I've preordered the hardcover of the first one.)

    I have two gripes, neither of which are about the work itself:

    1) Bloody delayed geographical releases. I hate having to wait another month after the US release date.

    2) Muppets who give one star reviews because they think the novellas cost too much. I'm perfectly happy to pay a premium price for a top quality product.

    The first chapter of Exit Strategy has been posted as a teaser, and this looks to be just as entertaining at the previous books. The excerpt ends "Oh. Oh shit."

    Zheqreobg unf whfg ernyvfrq gur vg vf gur ernfba TenlPevf vf cnavpvat. (V guvax nalbar jbhyq cnavpx ng gur gubhtug bs Zheqreobg va Grezvangbe zbqr pbzvat sbe gurz.)

    There are some reviews on Goodreads, some of which contain spoilers, but one has some hilarious 1-line quotes. I can't wait until November and the final instalment. (Then we have to wait until 2020 for the novel....)

  2. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 10:25pm on 09 September 2018

    Afterthought: Who perpetrated Amazon's "we thought you might like" spamming algorithm anyway? It's just "recommended" thirteen books "that I might like": Unfortunately, of the first six I;'e bought five and the sixth is pre-ordered through Amazon; the next three are under consideration (Hugo award winners, etc.), the following two were also purchased vrom them, and the final one is a "maybe" if I like the reviews of it.

    Three out of twelve that I haven't purchased or pre-ordered from them is a pretty shit success rate (rather like eBay's recommendations).


  3. Posted by RogerBW at 04:06pm on 10 September 2018

    I've never found Amazon's recommendations solid enough to put money into. Goodreads (which presumably by now uses the same engine), much the same. Most of the books I read and review here are recommendations from individuals rather than algorithms.

    I told Amazon not to send me email except about actual orders, some years ago, and it seems to have stuck.

  4. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 10:05pm on 10 September 2018

    Ah yes, "Goodreads" aka "spamming weasels" (Mustelid anti-defamation league on line two in 3... 2... 1...)

    I made the mistake of giving them the main email address, and despite multiple unsubscribe attempts (not to mention spamcop reports after the third one had no effect) their crap keeps rolling in (and is filtered out and binned automagically).


  5. Posted by RogerBW at 10:21pm on 10 September 2018


    They've never sent me anything that wasn't strictly business, as far as I've noticed.

    Not that I log in much, because while I would get more people reading my reviews if I posted them there, I'd also have to hand over the rights to them.


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