Thank you again, Cannonballers, for alerting me to another treasure that would have stayed hidden from me had I not seen your many rave reviews! I am a sucker for both “robot learns to person” and “people learn to robot” stories; I do not know why it took me so long to give Murderbot a go! Earlier this year I was awed by the beauty of A Closed and Common Orbit, but this time I was delighted by some good old-fashioned gruesome space violence. Our lead calls itself Murderbot, after all!
I enjoyed the “Dear Diary” aspect of this little piece; a Security Unit, the aforementioned Murderbot, has disabled outside control and is trying to keep others from figuring out that it is an independent entity. Everything is peachy until a group of scientists start treating them like a person instead of a murder machine; awkward interactions for man and machine abound! We get a peek under the helmet of a killing machine who is struggling with matching human behavior with that of the characters they have watched throughout thousands of hours of downloaded soap operas stored within them. Murderbot just wants to sit in a closet and watch TV, but these pesky scientists want to know how Murderbot feels! They want to see Murderbot’s face! They want – gasp – for Murderbot to sit in a chair with them instead of being transported in the cargo bay!
I highly recommend experiencing this piece through audio; Kevin R. Free is an excellent robotic narrator, and listening along made me truly feel like I was given a “captain’s log” style journal. His delivery is delightfully clipped and non-reactive, it’s amazing how much feeling he puts into situations meant to be without! On the other hand, it was easy to accidentally get too comfortable with the matter-of-fact story; I spaced out a few times while names and equipment was being listed, and had to skip back to catch up. It was easier to lose myself in thought than it was to lose myself in the story. Luckily, this is just the first of many novellas, and all of the audiobooks are on Scribd. Hooray!