Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Network Effect by Martha Wells


The Murderbot Diaries #5


Coming home from a mostly uneventful (less casualties than normal) survey, our hero (okay, not really a hero, it just wants to be left alone)  gets construct-napped by an old associate. This is quite a bit more of Murderbot in a single novel, not just novella length. 


Duty vs caring: One of SecUnit’s responsibilities becomes more like a relationship, although there might even be a line about how icky another relationship feels when described. The story really explores the depth of self-deception of trying to not care and just carry out its duty.

Sacrifice: This is a huge topic outside of this book that it often seems people have a really hard time accepting in their own lives. What if you were built to be expendable to some degree? How selflessly would you act?

Unknown Alien Tech: Yep, a bit of a MacGuffin, but Wells has been building this up in her other books in this series, so it is not really a surprise that she uses it here to put constraints on the story.

Abandoned Colonies: I think this is an interesting look into the past as well as a look at current and future enterprises. While today’s enterprises don’t usually end up with stranded colonists, this certainly happened in the past, and may happen again when we are able to reach planets, but not too easily. When an enterprise is no longer profitable, how does it affect the people who are forced to live with the consequences?

This could be translated to today’s companies when they go bankrupt or leave a location. Many in the recent past have left pollution, a large populace of unemployed, and a sterling reputation. On the one hand a company fully exploiting a resource, however you want to interpret “exploiting,” is making money and is active in the location they exist. But a company that is gone is not. Maybe there are ways of extracting reparations from successive entities, but it is a much different story.


If you have made it this far in the series (yet again), starting with #1 and all the rest, then this is a must read. There are some interesting questions that I have mentioned above as well as the continued witty banter that makes my introverted heart just want to sing, though not in front of a crowd please.

This isn’t just a longer book that takes the same size outline as the novellas and strings it out. It is a novel in it’s own right. I do like the novella length, but I am also quite happy with how this book turned out. I have read #6, but I have to say that I hope she continues with the series. Maybe there will be conclusions, maybe it will spiral into unknown episodic space. I hope for the former.

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