Friday, March 29, 2019

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells


The Murderbot Diaries #2


Our “hero” is “emancipated,” sort of, but if anybody recognizes it as a SecUnit there will be very deadly trouble. In order to delve into its past Murderbot must attach itself to a group of humans and do what it’s designed to do, grudgingly: protect clients. And then there is ART, the BFF (Big friendly freighter, my own acronym that might have more than two meanings.)

Again, as a novella this could stand on its own, but it is made richer with the universe and character building of #1. This is either a peek into the soul of Wells as an author who herself would rather curl up away from the universe and binge-watch sci-fi show episodes until the universe ends, or a very nuanced commentary that may hit a little too close to home for a large group of nerds out there that may or may not include myself.

I’ve also been reading books spanning sociology, behavioral economics, and get-better-at-what-you-are-doing books. The fact that I see potential commentary in Muderbot’s caricature pointing at the trend of our society really sliding away from being able to interact with other people might only be because I have recently been told that I am too abrasive. Although I don’t have the fear that people will find out that I have beam weapons embedded in my arms, it could feel much easier to have a conversation with someone while watching myself from a security camera, get those stupid facial ticks smoothed out that might give away my level of frustration.

Or not. Maybe I need to get back into acting, or at least take acting lessons, as my disgust with people doing bad jobs is way more obvious than the SecUnit’s scary secret.


While the previous concepts are still on display and certainly explored to some extent, this story certainly takes more advantage of them in order to really bring forward other concepts.

Growth or change: Our friendly SecUnit is immune, it will always be selfish since it has hacked it’s governor module, it doesn’t need to rely on or help anyone. It isn’t quite that stark, but there is a somewhat major shift starting to happen.

Acceptance: The Murderbot was built to kill, and while it accepted that when it was working for the company, it purposely removed itself from those situations, not immediately hiring itself out. It just wants to watch its episodes.

Major One Up: I think this is super important, having just read the third book, to have this realization. It certainly highlight the character growth later.


Good sci-fi with decent background tech and a very strong central character, maybe it’s just because I want to be able to write such great characters. The subtlety of the commentary is great, whether or not it’s intended, hidden behind a slowly cracking mask! If you haven’t read the previous review, take those caveats with this review, but otherwise read this right after you read #1.

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