Saturday, July 11, 2020

REVIEW: Artificial Condition (novella) by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition
is the second work in Wells' Murderbot Diaries series. It's science fiction. I bought it brand new from a bookstore that held a virtual "meet the author" event - one thing I hope sticks around after the pandemic is virtual events like that one, which make it possible even for folks who live multiple states or countries away to easily attend.


Artificial Condition picks up right where All Systems Red left off. Murderbot is now all on its own, with no real plans beyond not getting caught and spending as much time as possible watching as much media as possible. However, there is one question it wants answered, and in order to do that it will have to travel to RaviHyral Mining Facility Q Station, the place where it once went rogue and killed a bunch of humans.

This entry in the series introduced a new character I liked a lot, ART, a scarily powerful research transport. I really enjoyed the early scenes in which ART and Murderbot watched serials together, although they also made a nice team once Murderbot took a job as a security consultant. It was sweet of ART to play the soundtrack to Murderbot's favorite serial to comfort it when it was upset.

Murderbot's discoveries at the mining facility where it went rogue were both tragic and a bit of a letdown. I was expecting something more, considering the amount of effort that went into finding and getting to the place. I don't know, it's possible one of the later entries in the series ties back into that incident.

In order to get to the facility without being found out, Murderbot had to pretend to be an augmented human working as a security consultant. That part of the story had a bit more action, although Murderbot had to tone it down some in order to avoid being discovered as a rogue SecUnit. I admit, I spent a good bit of the story worried that Murderbot was going to forget that it couldn't let itself get as damaged as it did in the first story without giving away what it was or otherwise ending up in serious trouble, but it was still nice seeing it back at work again, trying and failing not to care about its humans.

This story also put the spotlight a bit more on ComfortUnits (sexbots), which did not go at all the way I expected, although I suppose I should have trusted Wells more.

Anyway, I enjoyed this, although I wish it had been longer and still think it would have been better to release all the novellas in a single collection. I'm glad that I already own Rogue Protocol and can move right along to reading it.

No comments:

Post a Comment