Re-read review: I am currently #70 on the list of holds for book number 6 in the Murderbot series (Fugitive Telemetry) so at this sedate pace I should be able to re-read the entire series by the time it finally comes off of hold.
Interestingly enough I was more so-so on Murderbot 1 (All Systems Red) the first time around and much more gung ho the second. This time, I was ever so slightly less into Murderbot’s adventures, but some review of my feelings later I realize it’s because I like ART very much and am a bit impatient to get on with the story so that we see it (them?) again.
I can’t speak to the novelty of the entire premise, because I’m sure the idea of “AI that is sentient and finds humans inscrutable” is pretty widespread. What I will say is that the ongoing adventures of Murderbot are a delight, and after discussing All Systems Red with my fiendishly clever book club I find more depths to plumb in this, my second outing on its adventures. For example:
– Murderbot lacks gender, this is clear, but why is it that if not “it” I, personally, default to “female”?
because it is constantly finding itself puzzled and overwhelmed by emotions and caring about things it doesn’t need to care about
– How much mental energy does it take to instead codify Murderbot as “male” / view its behavior/reactions as “male”?
some effort but surprisingly less than I thought
– Can you pick out the hand of a more involved editor this time around?
yes I think so the text is tighter and less repetitive
– Is Wells’ vague brushstrokes of world building due to not having set up a world (yet) or purposeful mood setting?
maybe? unclear to me this wasn’t something I thought of but I can see more details this time. I still find it very difficult to visually place these books anywhere specific–they all seem to take place in either nondescript shopping malls/convention centers (but in SPACE) or on the set of Illus from Expanse/the HAB from The Martian.
In any case, continue to look forward to re-reading and re-immersing myself in Network Effect.
Original review, August 2020: I like these! They’re like half a mystery and half a window into the world of a former-SecurityBot-now-deemed-murderbot who couldn’t be further from it.
I’d say the mystery element is less interesting, if only because you know that for intrigue the answer cannot be as straightforward as everyone says it is, and the realm of possible answers is small (did Murderbot kill everyone??? What do you think???).
There’s a certain discordance with the tension around various events. We’re supposed to believe that Murderbot is both wildly powerful and able to get through any event unscathed (or, honestly, scathed and then healed, what’s the difference) but also in imminent danger of being discovered for what it is. I can’t tell if it’s in a lot of danger or very little, but maybe the answer is both at all times.
I was expecting to miss the ragtag group of humans from the last novella, as well. While I do wish we’d see the adventures of Murderbot and Its Group of Humans, I understand why it wants to strike out on its own and see the world for itself. And I’m sure at some point in the whole series the crew will get back together.