Monday, January 1, 2024

REVIEW: System Collapse (book) by Martha Wells

System Collapse is science fiction, part of Wells' Murderbot Diaries series. I bought my copy new.


This takes place immediately following the events in Network Effect - as others have said, I highly recommend reading or rereading Network Effect just before digging into this book, because there's a lot that probably won't make sense otherwise. In a way, System Collapse feels like bonus content for Network Effect.

Murderbot, ART's crew, and the Preservation humans are still on the planet and having to deal with occasional "alien contamination" complications, but everyone's biggest concern is making sure that the colonists have the knowledge and opportunity to decide for themselves what their next steps are. This means somehow keeping the Barish-Estranza folks from convincing them to sign their rights away and become indentured slaves. 

The colonists are already split into multiple factions, making negotiations complicated. The situation only gets worse when it's revealed that there's yet another colony, a "lost" colony that split from the original group decades ago. Murderbot, ART in drone form, and several of the humans try to find this previously unknown group of colonists before Barish-Estranza has a chance butt in and make slavery sound like an exciting opportunity.

In addition to the slavery and capitalism issues, this entry in the series also deals a lot with mental health. One of the reasons it's helpful to have read Network Effect right before starting this book is that it's easy to see the boatloads of traumatic stuff that Murderbot went through, right before having to do yet more stuff. There was just no time to process all of it. Plus, emotions about real things. We all know how Murderbot feels about that.

You can definitely tell Murderbot is off its game throughout a good chunk of this, although the exact reasons for it aren't immediately clear. I was glad when Murderbot started to get back on track more, even if its plan involved doing things it was uncomfortable with (more of that "emotions about real things" stuff). Honestly, it really was the perfect person to come up with that particular plan and help execute it.

This wasn't my favorite entry in the series but, as always, Wells leaves me excited for more. The final few pages brought up some things I'm extremely interested in learning more about.

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