All Systems Red (#1)
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
Artificial Condition (#2)
It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.
Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.
What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…
Rogue Protocol (#3)
SciFi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.
And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.
Exit Strategy (#4)
The fourth and final part of the Murderbot Diaries series that began with All Systems Red.
Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?
Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.
But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?
And what will become of it when it’s caught?
“I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,00 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.”
I think that in itself should say a lot about Murderbot, Murderbot Diaries is a brilliant series of novellas that really makes a good point as to why more people should invest in novellas, including myself. Seriously, it’s such a silly thing to say or talk about but after reading this series, I realised there is so much I have yet to explore about my favourite genres.
This review will be for the entire series and I won’t be spoiling anything but mostly babble about reasons why you should be reading this if you haven’t already.
Anyway, back to Murderbot Diaries. Well, this entire series is about a bot AI that calls itself ‘Murderbot’ because of a thing that happened in the past that he doesn’t quite remember as well as he would like to. As I read more and more of Murderbot, I came to the uncomfortable conclusion that I can relate to almost all the things Murderbot feels and that’s a weird feeling to have, let me tell you.
For a novella series, Wells managed to perfect characterizations to a t. I absolutely loved the plot pacing, things started happening right from the first or second page itself and it was a wild ride from then onward. From the first book to the fourth book, the characters changed and re-appeared but the one thing remained constant, their very realness. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated it.
Back to Murderbot, this is an amazing example of how much an author can do with a bot who has hacked its own module and only desires to watch the thousands of hours of entertainment he’s downloaded in its spare time. Murderbot, feeling awkward around humans but not wanting to be known as a completely robotic person, has some truly painful but entertaining instances of existential crises.
It’s done so well and so wonderfully, I was just in awe of it continuously throughout the series. Then there’s the existence of augmented humans as well which was done so well, too! From it’s start as an expedition to a planet for research with a team to its conclusion at the fourth novella with the plot wrapping up nicely at the end of it, I loved everything about it.
It tackles so many important issues too. It talks about what it means to be human in a world where humans are, frankly, less than human too often for comfort. The intriguing world in which corporations have rights of various planets and moons and they do nefarious things on those planets. Just your usual run of the mill shady corporate thing but just on a bigger scale. There’s the whole matter of corporations exploiting and stealing resources or mining rare things before those things could be researched properly by a neutral body. There’s so much to write about but I am not sure I am capable of covering all topics at this moment.
There’s a bigger issue of Murderbot not actually being a killer machine it was meant to be and having really deep confusion as to what he really is. He doesn’t like humans but realises that he’s sorta, maybe copying certain humans he’s spent countless hours watching on the telly. He has flaws, he cannot (for the life of him) contain sarcasm or pessimism. I absolutely loved when Murderbot tried to convince himself that he didn’t like certain humans and that he was above human attachments. He totally lied to himself. It’s sometimes convenient that way, don’t you know?
Overall, this series is just the right thing to read if you are in the mood for science fiction and love sassy bots who don’t really want to fail but also can’t help but be relatable. The more you read this series, the deeper you get into it and I can’t recommend it enough.