Ok, this was a welcome distraction and promising introduction to a great character, the murderbot.
This is a novella that goes by fast and has echoes of Alien and Lost in Space. The action is brief but highly entertaining (“This is how we fight: throw ourselves at each other and see whose parts give out first.”) and the story spends its time letting us get to know this cyborg killing machine from a first-person perspective (It’s called the Murderbot Diaries). Saying anything about murderbot or its personality would be spoiling about 80% of the fun.
The story generally is about murderbot’s perception of humans and what it wants for itself. The story hinges on you caring about murderbot, which it succeeds in, with wry humor, inner monologues that are laugh-out-loud, and the portrayal of the bot’s progression toward trusting the humans.
It’s all too brief and the ending is just satisfactory for me. I loved how murderbot shined as the hero but the last major action scene felt clipped as the reader moves to the feel-good end. But I’m looking forward to more of this character in the next adventure.
A story about a bot that is about as shy as the most introverted human, loves its day-time TV shows, and is indifferent to its job (the Company buys the cheapest parts, and it makes for crappy working conditions). I got to say, this was the last thing I was expecting from this story, but it’s hilarious.
The humor: “Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I’d rather climb back into Hostile One’s mouth.”
The pathos: “Maybe this was how murderbots died. You lose function, go offline, but parts of you keep working, organic pieces kept alive by the fading energy in your power cells.”
The action: The above quote about running into battle and see who gets shots up the most and fails first.
The drama: “You have to kill me.” (tear jerker).
Making a friend: “My insides melted. That’s the only way I could describe it. After a minute, when I had my expression under control, I cleared the face plate and had it and the helmet fold back into my armor.”
Being a badass: “You used combat overrride modules to make the DeltFall SecUnits behave like rogues. If you think a real rogue SecUnit still has to answer your questions, the next few minutes are going to be an education for you.”
I loved the ‘moment’ when the humans have to figure out why Deltfall is all dead, and if they can trust their murderbot, who they now realize has been a hacked bot with free will the whole time. Murderbot leaps off the bed and grabs the augmented human by the throat. Hubsystem had lied to the humans and said murderbot was immobilized, but it wasn’t and it still chose not to hurt them (aside from this little demonstration for the one guy it didn’t like.)
Yes, I envisioned this bot as a female (even though it’s asexual) and the main reason the story holds up is how humorous the bot is. This is a Hugo- and Nebula-Award winning novella, which I didn’t know going in, and I’d honestly say without the main character being as intriguing as she/it is and the growing connection she has to her clients, the plot would be kind of generic. But that didn’t detract me from being entertained by this neurotic, sometimes heroic, binge-watching little bot.
4 of 5 stars.
Now off to more adventures with murderbot!