“The Murderbot Diaries” are really a single novel that the publishers have released as four novellas. This would have been fine except each novella was priced as if it were a full novel, leaving me feeling abused by the publisher.
The reason I LET myself be abused is that “The Murderbot Diaries” are first-rate science fiction. They’re fun, ingenious, fast-paced and plausible.
Murderbot is a wonderful creation. Its development over the course of the four novellas from a Security Unit that has hacked its own governor module so it can spend more time watching space soap-operas into a person with feelings, a strong sense of identity and a determination to stay independent is irresistibly attractive.
I read the fourth novella the same day that my pre-order dropped into my Audible library and I was gratified to find that the quality remained high and that the resolution was as plausible and original as the premise itself.
I won’t go into the plot here other than to say that it brought together all the plot pieces from the previous novellas and used them to push Murderbot’s development along by making it choose what to do about the mess “his” humans had gotten themselves into.
Although this final novella does what it’s supposed to do and gives a resolution to the struggle with the big bad Corporates, it seemed to me that the main focus was on Murderbot working out what it wants to be. In the third novella “Rogue Protocol” Murderbot met what he thought of as a “pet robot”. The sacrifices that robot made and the emotional attachment that the humans showed to it have both given Murderbot something to think about. He knows he doesn’t want to be a pet. He also knows that watching media is no longer enough for him. Its still embarrassed and annoyed by the emotions it keeps feeling but has recognised them as an integral part of its personality.
I liked the fact that Murderbot rejects the Pinnochio option. It doesn’t want to be a “real boy”. In the end, what it wants is to have the freedom to be Murderbot.
Martha Wells has created something very special here. I hope there are more Murderbot books, just because I’m greedy for its company, but I’d be satisfied if this is all I ever know about Murderbot because it was a great ride in good company.
Of course, if there are more Murderbot books, I’d rather not have to buy them in four slices and end up paying four times the price. Did I mention that already?