I have always been fascinated with Artificial Intelligence, a future wherein androids dream of electric sheep and so much more, so when I came across Martha Wells‘ Murderbot Diaries series of novellas at the library I knew I was taking them home to indulge.
A corporate future demands the Company be party to all space-faring missions, including the accompaniment of one of their security-androids. Enter Murderbot. A sec-unit comprised of human DNA and robotic parts, he was programmed to experience emotions, not the least of which being despair.
After hacking his government unit, and spending countless hours watching media entertainment, Murderbot believes he understands the nature of humanity, perhaps better than humanity itself, and though a part of him deeply longs for freedom, he finds himself uncomfortably attached and longing to protect the human team he was commanded to watch over on his mission.
When that mission goes horribly wrong, guilt follows him everywhere he goes, his paranoia about being reported and caught niggling always in the back of his mind. Realizing he must go back to the system everything went awry, he finds himself on a transport ship with an attitude, sole passenger to the whims of the transport, who knows his secret. Despite their banter, and the constant butting of their attitudes, they form a partnership in order for Murderbot to get to the bottom of things.
Each novella unravels a new piece of his mystery, lending credence to his paranoia and reaffirming his internal dialogue, which is delightfully sarcastic and snarky in ways most humans wish they could be but can never quite carry off without needling the patience of everyone around them.
I adored his voice, and found myself laughing out loud so many times while reading, and though I enjoyed the stories I had one minor complaint. The story itself played second-fiddle to his personality, and while it’s not a massive complaint I found myself becoming so accustomed to his voice and his inner-dialogue that when story bits cropped up I felt myself getting a little bored. I wanted to hurry on to the next bit of internal rationalizing and dialogue because as a character Murderbot was just that good.
The story itself isn’t boring, it’s just that his personality overwhelms the plot sometimes.
All in all, these are very fun novellas, a quick afternoon read, and I definitely recommend them. I give the overall series (of which I only read three books so far: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, and Rogue Protocol,) 4 out of 5 stars.