Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

The Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – Featuring R.W.W. Greene

Hello friends and Robots! First off Happy Mother’s Day if this applies to you in any way shape or form!

For episode 22 of the Sunday Brunch Series I am honored to be kicking off the Angry Robot Books Mercury Rising tour with author R.W.W. Greene! Mercury Rising releases this coming Tuesday the 10th!

Let’s jump right into the interview, then I’ll share book and author info at the end!

Also do 100% be sure to check out this stunning lineup of content through the rest of the tour!

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🥞 Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?
 
🎤First, thanks so much for inviting me to brunch. Interesting fact … Yeah, I don’t know. I can’t swim. Is that interesting or pathetic?
 
 
🥞I think it’s awesome that you listed breakfast as a possible interview question! This was meant to be 😂 what’s your favorite brunch food?
🎤Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day — whatever time of the day I choose to have it — and this big plate of eggs and homefries sets the mood just right. I will be accompanying it with nigh-infinite cups of black coffee and maybe a sliver of that quiche.
🥞 One of my favorite topics is morally gray characters and you nailed it with Brooklyn in Mercury Rising.  What do you think makes a good morally gray character?

🎤When the Color Wheel of Our Lives spins, it blurs into grayness. We might be blue or orange at certain points, but the average is that cloudy gray. You’re a good person. Okay, would you steal if you were starving? If your kids were starving? Do you ever drive faster than the speed limit? Ethics come from the outside. Morals are interior, and like everything else inside us, they’re slippery. We tend to resolve the cognitive dissonance of our own immoral actions pretty quickly. It’s just one puppy. Everybody does it. I’m a good person, and I pee in the shower, so obviously, to be a good person, you must pee in the shower, too.

I think the trick is to make the character as real as possible, and realize that real is really messy.

🥞Each of your books takes a big issue (as in pollution or climate change or war or etc) and gives the readers a big *hey this is happening* message – is this the thought that starts your book ideas? Is there an issue that’s particularly near and dear to you?

🎤My stories usually start with character and situation. For “The Light Years,” I had some version of Adem and his arranged marriage. For ‘Twenty-Five,’ I had Julie being left behind on Earth. For ‘Mercury,’ I had Brooklyn and his need to just make it through the day and get back to his apartment.

The ‘hey this is happening’ stuff comes in because everything is happening all the time, and it keeps happening over and over. We’re drowning in the rhymes and resonances of all the things we’ve (the Big We) ever seen or done. I suppose I’m most attuned to things that will affect the future. Which, I guess, is everything.

I don’t sleep all that well, and I take pills for anxiety. I wonder why

🥞You were a part of a “swearing in SFF” panel at Quarancon! Can you share your general thoughts on foul language & slang in SFF?

🎤Swearing is interesting because we lose vocabulary as the arc of history bends toward justice. I don’t hear origins as expletives nearly as much as I used to. Being a bastard isn’t the curse it once was. As the meaning of ‘bitch’ changes and evolves, being a ‘son of a bitch’ ain’t so bad. Slut-shaming is slowly giving way to sex-positivity. As we become more secular, there are fewer gods to blaspheme.

Most of what we’re left with is body parts and bodily functions. And fuck, which is  the Swiss-Army knife of swear words.

What would a wood elf find profane? ‘You slayer of trees! Culler of conifers! Maple mauler! Fucking asshole!”

A William Gibson cyberpunk-cowboy: “Cube! (from ‘cubicle’) Drug-cutting corpie! You dirty little dataport! Virus licker! Fucking asshole!

🥞Is there more to come in the Mercury Rising universe? {I loved the open ending but also want more Brooklyn}

🎤 There is. Angry Robot and I have contracted for a second book in what is meant to be a trilogy. You’ll see book two in early summer of 2023. If all goes well, the third book should come out summerish 2024, either from Angry Robot (fingers crossed) or self-published.

{{I’m on board, ESPECIALLY IF AR FINALLY EXPLAINS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF 400. I should start asking the authors}}

🥞After three books now and multiple short stories, what is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far?

🎤One short-story reviewer pronounced me a ‘middle-aged writer,” which while true, hurt. A dude on Goodreads recently gave ‘Twenty-Five to Life’ one star because he didn’t like who I dedicated the book to. One gent out on the West Coast of the U.S. wrote and said ‘The Light Years’ helped him come to terms with his father, which is cool but completely unplanned.

Probably the most useful feedback I’ve received is ‘Don’t read the reviews!” I don’t always listen.

🥞Random Sci-fi question: With the conference coming in May, any thoughts on the Nebula nominees this year?

🎤My secret shame — not so secret now — is that I often don’t get to the Nebula nominees until they are on the final ballot. I read a lot, easily three or four books a week, but much of it is not in-genre and the stuff that is doesn’t always show up on awards lists. After the ballot is released, I usually go on an all-Nebula reading spree so I can cast an informed vote.

There are so many books being published, I have no idea how anyone keeps up, and that’s not including all the novellas, novelettes, and short stories. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

{{True fact, I’ve succumbed to mood reading and pretty much anything from AR}}

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  favorite author? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🎤My favorite SFF author is currently a three-way tie among William Gibson (always), Becky Chambers, and Seanan McGuire. Gary Shteyngart is orbiting this triumvirate waiting for one of them to die or retire.

I’ve recommended Mary Doria Russell’s ‘The Sparrow’ more times than I can remember. Series … maybe the ‘Emberverse’ stuff by S.M. Stirling.

Character … Henry Palace in Ben Winter’s ‘Last Policeman’ series. Or Trixe Belden. If you push me, Trixie beats Henry all the way.

🥞Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks so much for having me. The company was excellent and the quiche divine. Have a lovely day!


There you have it!

If you want to see my early Mercury Rising review, click here!

Author Bio:

R.W.W. Greene is a New Hampshire USA writer with an MA in Fine Arts, which he exorcises in dive bars and coffee shops. He is a frequent panelist at the Boskone Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in Boston, and his work has been in Stupefying Stories, Daily Science Fiction, New Myths, and Jersey Devil Press, among others. Greene is a past board member of the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. He keeps bees, collects typewriters, and lives with writer/artist spouse Brenda and two cats

Book Blurb:
Even in a technologically-advanced, Kennedy-Didn’t-Die alternate-history, Brooklyn Lamontagne is going nowhere fast. The year is 1975, thirty years after Robert Oppenheimer invented the Oppenheimer Atomic Engine, twenty-five years after the first human walked on the moon, and eighteen years after Jet Carson and the Eagle Seven sacrificed their lives to stop the alien invaders. Brooklyn just wants to keep his mother’s rent paid, earn a little scratch of his own, steer clear of the cops, and maybe get laid sometime in the near future. Simple pleasures, right? But a killer with a baseball bat and a mysterious box of 8-track tapes is about to make his life real complicated.
So, rot away in prison or sign up to defend the planet from the assholes who dropped a meteorite on Cleveland?  Brooklyn crosses his fingers and picks  the Earth Orbital Forces. A few years in the trenches and then — assuming he survives — he’ll get his life back, right? Unfortunately, the universe has other plans, and Brooklyn is launched into a story about saving humanity, finding family, and growing as a person — while coping with high-stakes space battles, mystery science experiments and finding out the real enemies aren’t the tentacled monsters on the recruitment poster.

Unless they are.

Categories
Science Fiction

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells (Book Thoughts)

Well – I have completed my Murderbot read through and have no regrets. There are more stories coming in the MB franchise – I am not sure when or if I will read them, but I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Hate to end on a sour note but by and by far Fugitive Telemetry was my least favorite of all the stories for multiple reasons. I’ll be brief!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Fugitive Telemetry
  • Series: The Murderbot Diaries #6 (chronologically it’s 4.5)
  • Author: Martha Wells
  • Publisher & Release: TorDotCom, April 2021
  • Length: 172 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟 if you decide to read it, do so between Exit Strategy and Network Effect

Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!


My thoughts

I got off to a bad and confused start with this one because I thought it would have taken place after Network Effect. I was expecting something wildly different and was excited to see if MB took ART’s job offer.

All I wanted to do was watch media and not exist. I said, “You know I don’t like fun”

That said, Fugitive Telemetry falls chronologically as book number 4.5, after  Murderbot brought Mensah home and apparently took some contracts with Preservation Security before it went on the survey with Amena and Art and co.

I do only plan to read future installments if the storyline picks back up after Network Effect

So what’s this one about? It was like one of those locked door type who dunit mysteries, with the main conflict being Murderbot trying to fit in on Preservation as a SecUnit without scaring anyone.

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall, for fuck’s sake

Favorite side character this time…. Goes to Pin-Lee of all people!

Pin-Lee had promised, “Don’t worry, I’ll preserve your right to wander off like an asshole anytime you like.” (I said, “It takes one to know one”)

The mystery was interesting enough but I didn’t love the new side characters, and the culprit just did not make sense to me at all.  I honestly don’t know what the heck happened, 20 or 40 years or whatever seems like a long time for a program to lie dormant and what, just wait there incase there were fugitives? Who ever even set it off? I am so confused.

Also the action was a lot weaker and I wasn’t feeling the banter as much either, although the food particles bits were funny. Murderbot  really hates when humans touch everything and leave their food trash lying around.

Trying to get humans not to touch dangerous things was a full-time job

3 stars for this one and I feel like that is generous but it did explore my favorite sci-fi theme, which is where AI fits into society ethically

Categories
Science Fiction

Prison of Sleep by Tim Pratt (ARC Review, Book Tour)

Once again thank you so much to Angry Robot for introducing me to another great author and allowing me to participate in their online book tours!!

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Prison of Sleep is Tim Pratt’s followup to Doors of Sleep, review can be seen here.  While I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book, I think it’s a solid duology and would definitely recommend reading them for fans of the genre!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Prison of Sleep
  • Series: The Journals of Zaxony Delatree #2
  • Author: Tim Pratt
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 4/26/22
  • Length: 400 pages (p.s. what is it with Angry Robot and 400 pages?? Stay tuned while I continue to nag them on twitter for answers regarding this utmost mystery LOL)
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟⚡for fans of sci-fi adventures, the multiverse

Here’s the synopsis via GoodReads:

After escaping the ruthless Lector, Zax Delatree has a new enemy to fight in the sequel to Doors of Sleep.

Every time Zaxony Delatree falls asleep he wakes up on a new world. His life has turned into an endless series of brief encounters. But at least he and Minna, the one companion who has found a way of travelling with him, are no longer pursued by the psychotic and vengeful Lector.

But now Zax has been joined once again by Ana, a companion he thought left behind long ago. Ana is one of the Sleepers, a group of fellow travellers between worlds. Ana tells Zax that he is unknowingly host to a parasitic alien that exists partly in his blood and partly between dimensions. The chemical that the alien secretes is what allows Zax to travel. Every time he does, however, the parasite grows, damaging the fabric of the Universes. Anas is desperate to recruit Zax to her cause and stop the alien.

But there are others who are using the parasite, such as the cult who serve the Prisoner – an entity trapped in the dimension between universes. Every world is like a bar in its prison. The cult want to collapse all the bars of the worlds and free their god. Can Zax, Minna, Ana and the other Sleepers band together and stop them?

I believe it is hard to talk about sequels without hinting at spoilers, so I will keep this review very broad and not spoil anything!

The Plot & Story: I definitely think that idea wise, Prison of Sleep was the more interesting of the two books.  We get the history of both the Cult of the Worm and of The Sleepers. While Zax’s storyline was equally interesting and engaging, Ana’s ended up being more of an info dump that unfortunately slowed the story down and also confused me relentlessly regarding the timelines. (I mentally confused Zax’s battle with the attack on Sleeperhold at first and contextually it was hard to s

I won’t spend a ton of time on world building, but as far as history goes and my understanding of the book’s multiverse – A+ by the end. This is one of the more interesting creation stories I have read – I just can’t discuss it for spoilers.

The Characters: Ana is the most prominent new character.  Her point of view is introduced and used to fill in our knowledge gaps as she tells of her travels, training, and experiences with the Sleepers.  That said, I just wasn’t as interested in her and her voice sounded a lot like Zax’s at times.

Zaveta was Zax’s new travelling partner and I liked her! She was funny without meaning to be, and occasionally when she meant to be.  Her warrior attributes were a good counterbalance to Zax’s unaggressive approach.

One thing was that Zax didn’t really get to be the hero in this one – I think I expected him to be the hero.  Don’t we always expect the MC’s to be the hero? ((Food for thought)). It didn’t affect my rating but struck me that he was more of the passive observer this time while dear, dear Minna and Vicki came back in a big way this time.

I also continued to like the chapter headlines as a summary of coming events!

Overall: This duology is good for fans of the multiverse, sci-fi adventures, and unconventional heroes.  There is plenty of recap incase anyone forgot important parts of book one, but this is not going to read as a standalone.  My main issue came with Ana’s POV and how she inadvertently confused my timelines – 100% on me. The book is out now for everyone interested!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts Science Fiction

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series – featuring Chris Panatier!

As part of the Angry Robot Books tour for Stringers, I am entirely thrilled to chat with Chris Panatier on episode 21 of the Sunday Brunch Series!!

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I reviewed Stringers here, now let’s focus on the author!  There were some other recent interviews included in the tour (check them out!) so I went a little out there and asked about everyday heroes, short fiction, dog-goats, and so much more.

Here he is!


🥞Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤Thanks for having me! I guess one fact is that I know how to glue on fake eyelashes

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🥞Do you or your main character have a favorite Brunch food?

🎤My favorite brunch food is probably eggs benedict or like a giant hash. Ben’s favorite brunch is anything he can cancel out later with healthier food. Patton’s favorite brunch is drugs.

🥞My two favorite character archetypes are “morally gray” and “irredeemable jerk”, therefore I loved the snarky bounty hunter Aptat.  Is there anything you would be able to share about the character?

🎤This is a great question! I’m so happy Aptat came along. I have found myself drawn to exploring characters who eschew moral codes and Aptat was a perfect way to play with the freedom one has when they feel no longer bound to an ethical framework. Even though Aptat is a self-described “bespoke” flesh construct and decidedly not human, they give us one perspective of how some might choose to behave in a lawless state of nature. Aptat loves to point out that moral codes only work so long as everyone is in on the plan—which they are not. And while these are all serious discussion points, I wanted Aptat to be fun. They love the Real Housewives of television fame, pop music, and dancing. And what Aptat lacks in morals, they make up for in blistering commentary—they are free-wheeling, with a come-what-may attitude which I thought to be a natural extension of their freedom from societal norms of conduct.

🥞 In both Stringers and The Phlebotomist your main human characters avoid tropes. They are everyday people thrust into bizarre situations where their heroic capacity is tested! Is this your preferred approach to character writing?

🎤 The funny thing about both books is that neither main character has to go through some transformation to become heroic. I think that both Willa Wallace and Ben Sullivan ended up taking actions that most people would take in the same circumstances. Does this mean that most people have heroic capacity? Maybe—if it’s for the right reasons. Willa and Ben are driven only by what motivates them and their actions stem from that. As for tropes? Tropes are tropes because they work, I guess. They’re compelling and interesting. The only tropes I tend to stay away from are those where an ordinary person transforms into an extraordinary one. I rarely find those arcs believable as I think human beings, at least, are who they are. Now, you may not know it until they are tested and it may surprise, but it’s only because they hadn’t been in that situation before that we hadn’t seen the “hero” potential.

🥞Do we want to know what your Google search history looked like during your research for Stringers??

🎤 No comment. But I will say, hypothetically, that the very first search might have been very similar to this: “bug that fucks itself in the head”.

🥞What is the most valuable (or entertaining) feedback you’ve gotten so far about Stringers?

🎤 The thing that has made me most happy is that people have seen the serious stories woven into Stringers amid all the jokes. There are some big emotional pieces to the book and I’m glad people are finding them and they are hitting. The most entertaining feedback has to be the love for Mr. Pickles. It’s just a jar of pickles. Totally inanimate. And yet it’s pickles 24/7. Not complaining at all, I love it.

🥞I know this is the Stringers tour but I’ve enjoyed tracking down and reading some of your short fiction!  Which stories would you point new readers to?

🎤 Oh that’s lovely! My short fiction is way different than my books. Two suggests. For those who enjoy longer, more fleshed out science fiction, I have one longish story about conflicting clans of octopuses trying to get home to their planet (yes octopuses are not from Earth, this is science) called “The Eighth Fathom” and it was published in Metaphorosis Magazine. A short one I love to this day is called “Angels of Purgatory” and it was published in The Molotov Cocktail Magazine and a winner of one of their flash contests. All my shorties are on my website here: https://chrispanatier.com/short-stories/ 

Will you share a picture of your dog-goat?

This is Gretel. Tell me that this animal isn’t at least part goat:

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🥞 A while back you were writing about a Sci-Fi Trilogy that you were working on, is there any chance of that ever coming to fruition? Do I dare ask what it was about?

🥞 I wonder if that was my very first project—it probably was. Like a lot of writers, I had Big Dreams™ for my first novel, but also a pretty realistic appreciation for what it would take to get published. Of course, that didn’t stop me from daydreaming about how huge it might, could, maybe, possibly get. After 80+ rejections from agents I recalibrated my expectations. Lolol. Anyway, it’s a portal fantasy/sci-fi tale about a girl trying to save her brother. I still love the core of the story and expect to return to it in the future.

🥞Here is the rapid-fire round of bookish questions:  Last 5 star read? A book or series that you always recommend? Favorite literary character?

🥞I think all books get five stars because, look, you wrote a book. That said, I really have to recommend The Despicable Fantasies of Quentin Sergenov by Preston Fassel. That novella is fantastic. Ex-pro wrestler gets kicked out of the league for being gay, gets turned into a velociraptor and seeks revenge. Splatterpunk, but like, literary. For a series, I always recommend the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. Favorite literary character is a tie between Randy Marsh of Southpark (do cartoon scripts count as literature?) and Portia the spider from Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. 

🥞 Thank you for joining Sunday Brunch! If there’s anything else you want to add or say about anything at all, please do so here!

🎤Thanks for having me!


Meet the Author:

Chris Panatier lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife, daughter, and a fluctuating herd of animals resembling dogs (one is almost certainly a goat). He writes short stories and novels, “plays” the drums, and draws album covers for metal bands. Chris’s debut novel, The Phlebotomist, was on the “Recommended Reading” list for Bram Stoker Award 2020. Plays himself on twitter @chrisjpanatier.

Check out the other book tour stops!

stringers online tour week 3

Categories
Adventure Science Fiction

Network Effect by Martha Wells (Book Thoughts)

Hi friends! I normally don’t post every day but I am absolutely heck-bent on catching up with my book reviews. I’m almost there too!

One of the reasons that I read so many this month was due to the Murderbot novellas – shorter, quick, four “books” for the time investment of one.

That all said, I finally finished the full length novel and …. man I have mixed thoughts about the franchise. Not Network Effect, I LOVED Network Effect, but the franchise itself.  I expected the book to be something different but it started right near the end of Exit Strategy and kept the story going, although in a new direction.

This was a point where if I were a human (ick) I might have laughed. I decided to go with my first inclination and kill the shit out of some ass-faced hostiles instead – MB

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Network Effect
  • Series: The Murderbot Diaries, #5
  • Author: Martha Wells 
  • Publisher & Release: TorDotCom, May 2020
  • Length: 348 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 yes yes yes all the yes

Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you’re a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction?

Congratulations, you’re Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

“I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.”

When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.

The first thing I want to point out is that while this advertises as a standalone, I truly do not think it would read well as a standalone.  Yes there is some background given but the reader would miss the entire ART storyline, and so many others, if they were to read this first and I highly do not recommend it.  My verdict: read in publication order

…granted while I have been a key factor in certain clusterfucks of giant proportions…

-MB

Murderbot is back, Mensah is back, ART is back!! Side character wise though, this time we focus more on Mensah’s daughter Amena as well as Arada, Overse, Ratthi, and a new character Thiago.

I do enjoy that the other members of PreservationAux got some time in the spotlight! Ratthi kept the peace, Overse was the backbone, Arada was a rockstar, and Thiago was like the poor overprotective father figure along for the ride (who ended up being a huge player too).

Enough nonsense – the Murderbot + ART reunion was everything. EVERYTHING.  One more time for the people in the back: EVERYTHING!

The good thing about being a construct is that I can have a dramatic emotional breakdown while still running my background search

These two are the most dramatic AI’s ever, and I found it hilarious that Amena (the teenager) got in between and was so good at helping them navigate, as well as Ratthi.  When MB locked itself in the bathroom and a half hour later the other two came in – ha ha omg. The emotion was so real

Anyone who thinks machine intelligences don’t have emotions needs to be in this very uncomfortable room right now

– Ratthi

Besides the banter and characters, which is really everything, and the complex emotions and meditation on humanity of tbe bots, constructs, humans, and modified humans (😂)  the action really was quite good as well.

I never was bored reading, even if the plot got a bit convoluted toward the end and Wells lost me, just a bit.  The plot truly never turned into what I thought it would, and the blending of action and ethic was masterful.

I also liked the “3” storyline but you’ll have to read to find out about that one.  It did go to show that MB might not be the only not entirely evil SecUnit 

One more weird anomaly in this unending cycle of ‘whatthefuck’

-MB

Odds and ends: My biggest regret was that I missed the titular name drop in the book.  Usually the title ends up in a dramatic moment somewhere in the book.  There is also a little bit more actual science in this one, finally, but not much.  I felt like the first contact, alien remnant, virus, even medical suite action brought this a little more towards traditional sci-fi as well as how the humans interfaced with ART.

My recommendation: read the series, read the series, read the series – thru your local library or Libby or KU if possible

Categories
Adventure Science Fiction

Exit Strategy by Martha Wells (Book Thoughts)

I was bummed out by Rogue Protocol, but Exit Strategy was my favorite of the novellas so far!

Murderbot is finally going to confront both enemies and friends, taking on GrayCris to rescue Dr. Mensah and hopefully bring those fuckers down!  MB has interpreted messages that imply Mensah is being held for ransom while the PreservationAux team stalls until she can be retrieved or rescued

Enter one planetary sized standoff between GrayCris, the Corporation (MB’s original owners), and one more private company hired to bring down Murderbot

It would have been hilarious if I wasn’t about to die. Ok, it was still a little hilarious

It’s gonna need a heck of an exit strategy 😉

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Exit Strategy
  • Series: The Murderbot Diaries – #4
  • Author: Martha Wells
  • Publisher & Release: Tordotcom, October 2018
  • Length: 163 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨ since I could read on Libby.  I 100% think the publisher should be ashamed for splitting one book up into 4 novellas and charging so much!

Here’s the synopsis via Am*zon:

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?

This final novella in the original series was fast paced and action packed from start to finish.  The security standoff on the corporate planet was crazy. I was as surprised as Murderbot to see a corporation gunship there!

With the evidence against Graycris out, they were desperate and somehow thought they could kidnap Mensah and end up not destroyed.

I think this one had the best action scenes too by far.

I was having an emotion, and I hate that.

What we really have to focus on is Murderbot itself!  It was definitely afraid/awkward to face Mensah and the team after leaving.  MB had to pull on all it’s human experiences so far to navigate that reunion show. It was nice to see all the original side characters again too!

You can hug me if you need to

Also I did enjoy the planet itself, Wells created a lot of cool imagery with businesses fighting for consumer attention and of course, all the hacking.  Alll the hacking.  The hacking is way too easy but fun to read anyway.

So the plan wasn’t a clusterfuck, it was just circling the clusterfuck target zone, getting ready to come in for a landing

I think the last thing to note is that as much ad MB tends to act like a human, this one reminds us of it’s background and we got a glimpse of how it communicated and behaved as a SecUnit construct.  I liked watching it interact with the company ship because it drove home how the Units interact and process information and we see how far it’s come since

You don’t know what I am

Categories
Adventure Science Fiction

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells (Book Thoughts)

Continuing my read of The Murderbot Diaries, I finished Rogue Protocol!  Murderbot experiences an emotion (the horror..) and gets one step closer to helping Dr. Mensah and the PreservationAux team.  It encounters an annoying pet robot, truly pretends to be a human, and of course all things go to complete shit during a rescue mission.

My least favorite of the three so far but a solid installment

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Rogue Protocol
  • Series: The Murderbot Diaries, #3
  • Author: Martha Wells
  • Publisher & Release: Tordotcom, August 2018
  • Length: 150 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐✨ everyone should at least try the series

Here’s the synopsis (from Am*zon):

Rogue Protocol is the third entry in Martha Wells’s Hugo, Nebula, Alex, and Locus Award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, The Murderbot Diaries.

Starring a human-like android who keeps getting sucked back into adventure after adventure, though it just wants to be left alone, away from humanity and small talk.

Who knew being a heartless killing machine would present so many moral dilemmas?

Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is back 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.

Rogue Protocol is another quick, exciting installment in the series, but my least favorite of the three so far. I liked how Murderbot has to really, really fall in with humans and then have to compare that new freedom with it’s complex feelings of the life of Miki, the “pet robot”.

Everything was annoying right now and I had no idea why – MB

First s*xbots then Miki, I’m probably reading into it too much but I feel like Wells is making some PC statement about how various entities fit into societies and can end up being more than they appear.   I did like Miki though, she gives MB another type of human + bot partnership context and reminds us how even the simplest bots can be pretty bad ass.

Anyway, Murderbot is off to an abandoned terraforming site to gather incriminating evidence about GrayCris and it’s illegal alien biofarming exploits for.”strange synthetics”. I liked how MB had to improvise and really get those people out of a hard situation alive. We see how corrupted GrayCris is and also learn that Dr Mensah is captured, which sets up the next book.

I know in the telling it sounds like I was on top of this situation but really, I was still just thinking, Oh shit oh shit oh shit – MB7

I just didn’t care about the new set of human characters.  There were too many names thrown out with no relevance to the story, which got confusing quick.  The plot and rescue and banter were up to par, the snark was still there, just soo many people. The end confused me too – I think Abene would have helped but MB decided to just sneak away 😳

My biggest gripe, as with many readers, is this is clearly one book chopped into four parts. And yet they’re charging full book price even for the electronic version of each novella. I will just hold out until they come up on Libby, thanks

“I am at eighty-six percent functional capacity.” It held up its arm stump. “It’s only a flesh wound.” – Miki

I approve of the Monty Python nod!

Anyway, I definitely recommend that pretty much anybody that likes action fiction and snark should at least try the series!

Categories
Science Fiction

Stringers by Chris Panatier (ARC Review)

Thank you so much to Angry Robot for the free early read of Stringers by Chris Panatier! As always, all opinions are my own!

It took me a while to read this intergalactic sci-fi adventure – the tour has already kicked off! I am posting my review now and thrilled to share that Chris Panatier is kicking off the reboot of Sunday Brunch on 4/24 as a later part of the Stringers online tour!!

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Stringers
  • Series: N/A
  • Author: Chris Panatier
  • Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 04/12/22
  • Length: 400 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⚡ yes for fans of weird sci-fi!

Here’s the synopsis:

A genius is abducted by an alien bounty-hunter for the location of a powerful inter-dimensional object. Trouble is, he can’t remember a thing.

Ben isn’t exactly a genius, but he has an immense breadth of knowledge. Whether it’s natural science (specifically the intricacies of bug sex), or vintage timepieces, he can spout facts and information with the best of experts. He just can’t explain why he knows any of it. Another thing he knows is the location of the Chime. What it is or why it’s important, he can’t say.

But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble, as a trash-talking, flesh construct bounty hunter is on his tail and looking to sell him to the highest bidder. And being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice won’t be enough to get him out of it.

***synopsis taken from Am*zon***

(((Dear Angry Robot – why is 400 the perfect page number??)))

Stringers features two friends, just regular guys on Earth that get abducted by an exceedingly snarky space bounty hunter. Ben knows every factoid ever about bug sex, Patton is a stoner, and the bounty hunter lures them into a trap to sell Ben to an inter-dimensional alien race

So…wow. I mean just wow. The book is dense on the science and puzzle content which slowed the reading down.  Some of the really technical parts I was tempted to skim, but I stuck with it and felt rewarded.

There is also plenty of adventure, banter, brutality, and discovery to keep the plot moving. The bounty hunter, named Aptat, is a great example of a morally gray character that kinds of just ends up being self serving.

In not skimming, I learned that Stringers is actually a super smart book where the layers are revealed slowly and expanded on slowly as the characters learn their own mysteries.  There are two points of view, Ben and Naecia, as well as interludes that make sense later on

Character wise – Ben is pretty funny and Patton is the loyal friend.  If nothing else his friendship and loyalty make him a worthy character, always looking out for Ben whether or not he deserves it.  I enjoy books where everyday beings are forced into heroics, or discover their capability for bravery and heroics.  Naecia just wanted to help her family and probably got the shit end of the abduction spectrum, but none of the Stringers fared too well.

The only thing I didn’t love was a weird but blessedly brief episode of feeding and excrement tubes, it went wayyy beyond toilet humor into something a little gross.

One thing I did love? A jar of pickles that oddly enough became a character in itself for a bit.  Also – mixing serious themes with humor is always good, if not mentally draining.

With new alien races, technology worthy of a sci-fi classic, and enough bug sex facts to keep it relatively light – even if I don’t want to know what the author’s search history looks like 😂 – this is also a surprisingly deep story of a galaxy in extreme danger

And.you definitely want to read the footnotes
#imwithpatton

File Under: Science Fiction -Bloom of God – Patton you on the back – Eels Aplenty – Some Aliens Just Suck [[Angry Robot]]

Categories
Adventure Science Fiction

Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Book Thoughts)

Up next in my Murderbot reread is Artificial Condition!  I definitely liked this much more than the first book. The characters and action are both better developed and the banter is absolutely next level.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: Artificial Condition
  • Series: The Murderbot Diaries, #2
  • Author: Martha Wells
  • Publisher & Release: Tordotcom, May 2018
  • Length: 160 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⚡ yes, especially the audio!

Here’s the synopsis from Amazon:

Artificial Condition is the follow-up to Martha Wells’s Hugo, Nebula, Alex, and Locus Award-winning, New York Times bestselling All Systems Red

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…

First off, you definitely want to know what the A stands for but I’m not going to tell you 😂

“Fear is an artificial condition”

The plot: Murderbot is on a journey to find answers about it’s past. Was it responsible for all those humans deaths years before? Did the event even happen? Reluctantly teaming up with A.R.T (😂😂), a large research transport that just happens to have armaments, Murderbot does it’s best to pass as human and investigate the planet on which it’s defining moment occurred.

Yes, the giant transport bot is going to help the construct SecUnit pretend to be human. This will go well.

I think this plot was much more interesting than what happened in All Systems Red. 

With a new group of suicidally stupid humans to protect (oh, Murderbot…), It once again proves to be a decent security guide as It keeps three younger scientists relatively safe after their precious data was stolen.

With more hacking, badassery, and snark, the book hard to put down

The Characters: The best part was the banter between A.R.T. and Murderbot.  I could not stop laughing. Highly recommend the audiobook for this banter – Kevin R. Free is fantastic and the A.R.T. voice added SO much to the experience

Yeah well, fuck you too, I thought, and initiated a shutdown sequence

I was rooting for them so hard LOL

I think it also helped to have a face and motivation on the antagonist, the one who stole the scientists’ data and would kill to keep it.

Now that Murderbot has tasted agency and enjoys being treated as a human, ish, I think it is asking itself the hard questions about humanity (with the annoying prodding of A.R.T.) and that added a dimension to the character

The sci in the sci-fi: is super light, once again this reads more like an adventure than a Sci-Fi.  There is a little more explanation of bot versus construct and a funny ish scene in a med bay that tells a bit more about Murderbot’s physiology.

A few oddities: I docked half a star because I think Wells’ SJW pushing, reads too much like typos in this particular instance.  There was a “unique” family structure from one planet and one character identified as “te” – I thought it was a typo and ended up confused.  One of those things just thrown in that felt forced and odd. Gotta hold up that Nebula award though, right?? My one objection to the series is what these novellas cost in ebook form – therefore I am taking my time and reading these as my Libby holds come through!  This actually seems to be a common comment among Amazon reviews so I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking WHEW 10$ for a novella is – $$$

In closing – definitely check out Murderbot if you love snark, banter, action, AI ethics, and more snark

Sometimes people do things to you that you can’t do anything about. You just have to survive it and go on

-MB in a rare moment of true wisdom

Categories
Adventure Science Fiction

All Systems Red (Book Thoughts) by Martha Wells

Ahhh I had to restart the novellas before reading Network Effect. I know they don’t really affect the full length book but it feels right and they are quick reads (or listens).

For those unaware, The Murderbot Diaries is a series of 5 novellas and one full length novel set prior to those events, about a security bot who hacks itself and would rather watch tv dramas then do its job.

It’s snarky, at times funny sci-fi that reads more like adventure fiction as the actual science is pretty limited.

Bookish Quick Facts:

  • Title: All Systems Red
  • Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1
  • Author: Martha Wells
  • Punlisher & Release: TorDotCom – May 2017
  • Length: 160 pages
  • Rate & Recommend: ☀☀☀☀ sure for scifi/adventure fans!

Here is the synopsis from Amazon:

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial Intelligence.

“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

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.

I really love Murderbot.  There is absolutely Nil for world building which is where I perpetually dock a star, but the action, plot, mystery, snarky characters, and AI ethical struggles won me over pretty quickly.

As in most novellas, the plot and action move quickly.  We get what we need about The Company and the function of Security bots, while the rest is characters and banter and action.

I enjoyed the plot too, we get plenty of danger and an added mystery / who dunnit as well.  Murderbot might prefer not to interact with humans but it surprisingly is quite good at it’s job, when while epically half-assing it

It’s hard not to like Murderbot as a character too. It just rolls it’s eyes and snarks at the humans – but lord forbid someone tries to kill the humans because then it’s all NO YOU WONT HURT MY HUMANS!! Mensah and the others are interesting too, in the glimpse we get some complicated crew dynamics as they deal with their terrible situation ( and rogue SecUnit).

I love the moment when MB is like – These are my humans! I also appreciate Murderbot’s sentiments towards humans, AKA it’s favorite quote time – because honestly I relate to the not caring parts 😂

Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency

 

As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure

 

I don’t know why, because it’s one of those things I’m not contractually obligated to care about

 

I was the one who was supposed to keep everybody safe. I panic all the time, you just can’t see it, I told her. I added the text signifier for “joke.”

All in all – definitely check out Murderbot if you like snark and adventure and quick reads.  I will add that All Systems Red won a boatload of awards in 2018 – The Hugo, Nebula, Alex, AND Locus! For all that the Hugo and Nebula have given into the PC crowd, this book wasn’t terrible. Murderbot has no sexy parts (I picture an amorphous Ken doll) and identified as “It” – which makes blessed sense to me – but otherwise the book is not terribly PC and the awards are well deserved in my opinion!