Image of Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries


Image of Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries

Much like the anxiety-ridden but good-hearted Murderbot itself, this series is a delight, carefully balancing snark and other humor without ever concealing (or even really trying to conceal) the real and serious character work and emotional intensity that’s at work here. Wells doesn’t downplay the trauma and existential questions the underpin parts of the story, but also keeps it swift-moving and delightful, partly by respecting those aspects of the story instead of trying to gloss over them. As before, Murderbot makes for a wonderful protagonist and narrative voice, one of the most compelling reluctant heroes science fiction has seen in a while.

Now that the only humans who know about the rogue SecUnit that’s dubbed itself Murderbot have, unexpectedly, freed it instead of turning it in, Murderbot knows what it needs to do next: immediately flee from them. Being treated as a person is far scarier than getting shot at or blown up, and Murderbot still doesn’t know what caused it to massacre its old clients just before its memories were last wiped. In a stroke of either great or horrible luck, Murderbot even runs into an ally on its way to the site of the massacre, an unmanned transport ship with a bigger (and more annoying) brain than expected. Now Murderbot just needs to protect its new clients while pretending to be (shudder) human and trying to figure out what made it a Murderbot in the first place. (TOR.COM, May, 160 pp., $16.99)

Reviewed by: 
Ian Mathers