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
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