We have a Murderbot murder mystery novella. It is almost as if this book was written specifically for me. Although published after Network Effect, Fugitive Telemetry takes place before it, after Mensah brings Murderbot to Preservation Station. We join action in progress as a body has been discovered on the Station and Murderbot accompanies Dr. Mensah and Senior Officer Indah as an investigation is undertaken. Dr. Mensah does her Dr. Mensah thing and Murderbot is contracted to aid in the investigation (neither Murderbot not Senior Indah are super excited about that) and we follow as Murderbot does what Murderbot does, following the information to find out how the human got dead, and who is responsible for that death.
We see on page the continuing growth of Murderbot’s personhood and the practical ways it goes about figuring out how to communicate with humans that are not its humans for the best result for everyone. Which is of course complicated by the Station security and investigators not trusting Murderbot at all, and having made Murderbot promise to not hack into SecSystem (which Murderbot abides by, its word matters). I enjoyed immensely getting to see Murderbot interact with its people (Ratthi and Gurathin play parts in Murderbot’s investigation and then just keep checking in on it and its progress and safety) and humans who are not its humans (there’s a really great cast of investigator characters), as well as bots (I love me some JollyBaby). I also appreciated the way the mystery expanded naturally from the murdered human to the circumstances around its death, and how it ripples out into the greater world of Preservation Station.
What I have always loved about the character of Murderbot, and the function of SecUnit’s in the first place, is that it is designed to protect humans and fuck everything or anything else. Yes, Murderbot is both full of weapons and in a certain respect a weapon itself, but there’s a moment late in the novella where Murderbot feels like itself because it gets to make a plan that is a SecUnit plan, not a CombatUnit plan and I smiled from ear to ear. This outing felt like a delightful episode of media and I think I’m going to go ahead and round it up to 5 stars.