Escape Velocity

A curated Collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction Media

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Part 3 in the Murderbot Diaries – Following the revelations of Artificial Condition, our Murderbot travels to a far-flung orbital mining facility to further investigate the crimes of its former owners. It infiltrates an expedition sent there to assess the condition of the facility before a full salvage operation will commence, by making friends with a robot who has a relationship with their owner unlike any the Murderbot has encountered before.

Listened to the audiobook with Kevin R. Free – as before,  decent listening but wasn’t too impressed with his rendition.

After a good first instalment in All Systems Red, I was a bit disappointed with Artificial Condition, so I put on Rogue Protocol just to check if that was a return to form. For me, it wasn’t, as Wells didn’t address my main let downs with Artificial Condition.

As before, the book explores the different types of conceivable artificial (and hybrid) intelligences, and the possible relationships of humans to them. The Murderbot encounters a variety of systems and engages with them on different terms, with more of a focus on combat in this particular instalment. The feeling remains, however, that it never becomes quite clear what the Murderbot – or its friends and opponents – can and cannot do; it tends to be explained after the fact instead. I recognise that novellas have a lot less room for worldbuilding, but we’re in part three already and I would have expected some level of clarity by now.

The fact that we don’t have any rules – and that Wells doesn’t seem to make an effort to present them – indicates to me that she isn’t going to explain it to us, and that it just isn’t the point of the story.

This frustrates me, because I think the Murderbot Diaries are more than worthy of the praise and prizes they have received, and I love the idea of what Wells does with the series – quick paced novellas with modern themes each set in an interesting new environment. She has just made a number of choices in style of sci-fi and storytelling that aren’t my cup of tea, so I end up giving them mediocre reviews even though I think they are five-star worthy for some readers.

Moral of the story is: give All Systems Red a shot if the character of the Murderbot seems interesting to you, there is a good chance you’ll love it and never mind any of my gripes. If you recognise my nit-picking, then it is probably not worth getting the rest too, since it doesn’t appear to be getting better over the series.

I don’t hate The Murderbot Diaries, so I might pick up the next instalments if I’m in for easy listening some time. But in general, unfortunately, not my thing.

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