Humans should really do more research. There were operating manuals that would have warned her not to f*** with us.” So notes the Murderbot, a rogue security unit who has managed to disable the mechanism that forces him to follow human commands. He earned his name some time earlier when he went berserk at a mining facility and murdered 57 human beings. In Artificial Condition, the second of Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, we learn just how that terrible event came about.
An augmented human designed to kill
In the Murderbot’s world, there are three sentient species. Human beings, of course. Bots that might take on a wide variety of forms for specialized purposes. And augmented humans such as Murderbot and the “comfort units” designed for sex. Murderbot himself has weapons embedded in his arms and chest. (Actually, it’s probably inaccurate to refer to Murderbot as male. “I didn’t have any parts related to sex and I liked it that way. I had seen humans have sex on the entertainment feed and on my contracts . . . No, thank you, no. No.”) In fact, he has very few “human parts.” But he most certainly has a personality. For example, at one point he informs the reader, “you may have noticed that for a terrifying murderbot I f*** up a lot.”
Martha Wells is an able writer. She manages to sustain suspense and amuse at the same time.
Artificial Condition (Murderbot Diaries #2) by Martha Wells (2018) 160 pages ★★★★☆
Finalist for the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Novella
About the author
Since 1993 Martha Wells has written 24 novels, most of them fantasy, as well as numerous short stories and articles. She has been nominated for more than a dozen literary awards. The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red won the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 2018. Wells was born and lives in Texas.
For related reading
Previously I reviewed the first of the Murderbot Diaries, All Systems Red, at A reminder that technology doesn’t always work well in the future, either. A total of four Murderbot Diaries have been published to date.
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And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, on the Home Page.
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.