RogerBW's Blog

Network Effect, Martha Wells 28 May 2020

2020 science fiction, fifth in the Murderbot series (though the previous four were novellas). Kidnapping, aliens, space battles, and meditations on ethics and the nature of consciousness.

With the length of a full novel to work in, Wells is able to develop a more complex plot than the novellas could support; there's also more room for relationships with other people, and even some non-murder-related situations.

Thiago's mouth tightened. "If any of these people had been left alive, perhaps we could have asked them."

I thought that was a shot at me, but ART apparently didn't take it well. It said, If you'll put that one on the medical platform, I can cut it open and see.

All right, there are new humans to keep track of as well as some returning from previous books, and my name cognition broke down a bit and conflated Amena and Arada for a while. But it all came clear with some effort.

(Data suggests family dramas bear a less than 10 percent resemblance to actual human families, which is unsurprising and also a relief, considering all the murders. In the dramas, not Mensah's family.)

Things do perhaps get unnecessarily convoluted towards the end, when the nature of the threat becomes apparent; I can see that other setups would have made themselves obvious earlier, but saying "this tech acts in weird ways" doesn't entirely satisfy me as an explanation.

I had cleaned off all the blood and fluid with the hygiene unit but was too angry to take a shower. (Showers are nice and I wanted to stay angry.)

But this is science fiction adventure with a snarky and cynical protagonist who's one of my favourite characters to read about; people do things because of who they are, rather than because the plot needs them to; there's a puzzle to be solved, but it's a puzzle of "who is behind all this and what do they want" to be solved from observations of behaviour.

My drone inputs showed dark empty corridors, with no obvious sign of human occupation, if you didn't count the bodies.

Usually when a book or other product is aimed so squarely at people like me, it's a dismal failure in the market. This series seems to have been an exception. Hurrah!

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Previous in series: Exit Strategy | Series: The Murderbot Diaries

  1. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 08:19pm on 29 May 2020

    Hurrah! Seconded, very definitely. (I'm still waiting for the hardcover - which got pushed back another few weeks from the declared UK release date - but the audiobook popped up on the US release date and I have been listening to it with considerable enjoyment.)

    Very definitely recommended (and I hope the 'free' short that was only available to US purchasers becomes available soon). We definitely need more Murderbot. (There is apparently something in the works on this front.)

    Chris. p.s. I'd also like the two shorts ("The future of work" and the recent 'free' one) to appear in audiobook format at some point. (Read by Kevin R. Free of course.)

  2. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 07:24pm on 07 June 2020

    Of course, I managed to forget to check the delivery address on BigRiverCo, so when they did deliver the hardcover it arrived at work, where I don't plan to be until the pandemic risk reduces considerably. Ah well, I'm enjoying the hell out of the audiobook, the only annoyance being that I can't set bookmarks in iTunes.

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