The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

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Murderbot is a socially awkward introvert, a genderless cyborg who hacks itself to gain free agency. It’s designed to kill, but it prefers to sit around watching TV instead. Murderbot will stop at nothing to save the humans in its care, though. I found this quite delightful, especially the way most of the humans are nice to Murderbot despite how different it is from them.

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Murderbot sets off in search of answers concerning the events that happened when it first gained free will. Was it just a malfunction or was something more going on? It has to modify its appearance to look more human, but it does decide to remain genderless. Pretending to be a human will be difficult, especially since Murderbot has new clients to protect, but also a new friend in the form of a transport ship. Since constructs and ships need to be sentient to do their jobs, they’re bored most of the time, just waiting for something to happen. This sounds like a form of torture to me, but the book doesn’t portray it that way, so I guess not. Another delightful entry in the Murderbot series.

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Murderbot is searching for evidence against the company that attacked it in the first book. This takes it to a remote destination where it will be harder for it to blend in with the humans. A planet that had started being terraformed. Since Murderbot records everything, it’s able to replay conversations that it wasn’t paying attention to. It also has the ability to delete annoying conversations and other useless information from memory, which would be nice. As you’d expect from a cyborg who loves TV, Murderbot quotes from TV shows occasionally, which is a nice touch.

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In all the Murderbot books so far, none of the humans really have distinct personalities, which makes sense given Murderbot’s inability to empathize much with humans. In All Systems Red, Murderbot is the only one who needs a fleshed-out personality as we’re being introduced to it. In Artificial Condition, Murderbot befriends (as much as Murderbot can befriend anyone) ART, the transport ship, while humans remain largely vague outlines. In Rogue Protocol, Murderbot kind of-sort of befriends Miki, a pet robot, with humans once again being vague outlines for the most part.

Now, in Exit Strategy, Murderbot gets reunited with the crew from the first book. The evil corporation GrayCris has apparently kidnapped Dr. Mensah and it’s up to Murderbot to rescue her while remaining as incognito as possible. It was nice to see familiar characters again, although I feel like the humans once again weren’t distinct enough from each other (except Gurathin who Murderbot doesn’t like because he’s blunt).

I don’t think I mentioned before that Murderbot takes place in a world with capitalism run amok. Obtrusive ads are a part of life, security cameras record everything more for data-mining purposes than for security purposes, and companies will look the other way when the law is broken if they get a big enough bribe. In fact, whether something is legal or not seems to depend on the size of your pocketbook, which makes me wonder why Murderbot, who’s an expert hacker, hasn’t just hacked a bank and used gobs of money to solve all its problems. I’m also not sure why we’re never told the name of the company Murderbot used to work for when we’re told the names of other companies.

Anyway, this is yet another solid entry in the Murderbot series filled with fun action scenes, as well as scenes in which the socially-awkward Murderbot continues to try to understand humans. If you haven’t read this series yet, what are you waiting for?

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