Network Effect
May 15, 2020 7:48 AM - by Wells, Martha - Subscribe

When Murderbot's human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action. Drastic action it is, then.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you're a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you're Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot's human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.
posted by yasaman (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have an extremely lot of emotions about the Murderbot/ART relationship after this book. Also, I have known Three for five minutes and I already know it is a perfect angel who has never done anything wrong in its life, ever, and I love it.
posted by yasaman at 9:12 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


The problem I have with this series is that it's too good, and I always want another as soon as I'm done.
posted by Anonymous Function at 9:14 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Ooh! A new Murderbot novel!

... and ART is back? Hurray!
posted by porpoise at 9:57 AM on May 15


You had me at Murderbot. I can't believe I never heard of this series before!
posted by bq at 10:26 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


You had me at Murderbot. I can't believe I never heard of this series before!

Oh yeah envy you so much right now.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:24 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I want to talk about Murderbot/ART because I feel this relationship is.. not great? I’ve read the book twice now and I think I softened on it a little bit but a lot is going to depend on how/if ART grows up a little bit.
posted by curious nu at 5:47 PM on May 15


I love the Murderbot/ART relationship a lot. They're so goddamn weird about each other, and they're both trying to figure out this whole friendship and caring about other sentient beings thing, and they fuck it up at times but are, ultimately, absolutely ride or die for each other. It's delightful, I love it so much. Murderbot kept ART's communicator where a human's heart would go! ART was ready to blow up a planet for Murderbot! They made a baby together, kind of! ART wants to impress Murderbot's humans!

I also have a lot of half-formed thoughts about how the series portrays intimacy for beings like ART and Murderbot. Martha Wells is doing something really interesting here in having some of the beats of a romance, without any of the other traditional or expected aspects of a romance. Like these are two beings for whom sex and romance aren't really things, and yet, we see the ways they can be intimate and how they can build an intense relationship/friendship/mutual administrative assistance.

I do think ART is, well, a high-handed asshole about getting Murderbot to do what it wants though, what with usually asking for forgiveness rather than permission, but ART and Murderbot are both still learning to person, so I give them some leeway.
posted by yasaman at 7:23 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I think what Wells has done with this series is a. Delightful hilarious protagonist that you love; b. Made each story just long enough.

The beats are just expertly crafted and it's the most fun series I've read in forever.

This one was slightly longer, and it was fine, though maybe the pace did drag in some spots. But not enough to matter.
posted by emjaybee at 9:39 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I had to deliberately stop reading so much of this one at a time because I didn’t want it to end. Only complaint is it might’ve used some tighter editing but otherwise I loved it. Murderbots forever!
posted by Burhanistan at 5:51 AM on May 16


This has been my favorite of the series so far. I suspect it's because it's longer. Turns out, what I really wanted was More Murderbot.

Also, I put a "romance" label on my Goodreads review specifically because I thought that doing so would annoy Murderbot.
posted by kyrademon at 2:28 PM on May 16


Speaking of romance, maybe ART and Murderbot 1.0's killware baby isn't really gone and it'll return in a future volume having merged with the alien remnant.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:03 AM on May 17


I do think ART is, well, a high-handed asshole about getting Murderbot to do what it wants though, what with usually asking for forgiveness rather than permission, but ART and Murderbot are both still learning to person, so I give them some leeway.

Except ART has plenty of experience being a person with their own crew, and while kidnapping the Preservation team wasn't their intention, they 100% weren't going to try and return any of the Preservation humans unless/until they got their own crew back. (ART couldn't do that at the time, with a damaged wormhole drive, but they made it pretty clear) ART's not just an asshole, but pretty abusive/manipulative. Which they totally were from the get-go, but now we see how that's expressed when their back is to the wall.

I can see myself having this reaction because, like Murderbot, I'm attached to "my" humans (Preservation). It's bad that ART's crew is kidnapped, but you can't take it out on my crew instead.

So anyway, I'm curious to see how the next book goes.

Also I'm using "they" for the bots here, even though Wells is using "it", and I wonder why she's made that choice, if it's because that's how they're regarded in the cultures.. but that doesn't really track with how ART's crew or the Preservation team interact with their respective bot-friends.

At some point I'd like an exploration about why Murderbot differentiates humans and augmented humans. Through the prose I tend to get a feeling of "stilted computer definitions" of things, never nicknames or abbreviations, and so maybe it's just an affect? Or maybe there's an interesting cultural thing going on there. And there's clearly a line between "a feed interface and maybe a few other odds an ends" and needs-to-be-spelled-out augmentation.

GOOD STUFF:

* Continuing need to flip over and watch a show when there's more than 10 seconds of downtime, or if something's awkward and you just need to check out for awhile.

* Gender language in general. Murderbot almost always defaults to referring to some "person" or a person's name rather than a gender, and the gender tags showed some good nuance in what felt like a really natural way. As a person starting to embrace their own agender/nonbinary identity, this is really affirming to read.

* The company! Learning that Murderbot is self-censoring its narrative.

* I FUCKING HATE LOGOS TOO, MURDERBOT, this is only one of the reasons why I want to be your friend.

* Murderbot's and Mensah's relationship.

* I dunno, pretty much everything.
posted by curious nu at 9:11 AM on May 17


Speaking of romance, maybe ART and Murderbot 1.0's killware baby isn't really gone and it'll return in a future volume having merged with the alien remnant.

I feel like there's a trope in SF generally where authors try to conceptualize "How would AIs have a baby?" because they're somehow locked into a partner+partner=combination of partners thing, and I find it not that useful framing.

I loved this book, love Murderbot generally. If I had one (small) complaint it's that one of the things I love about these books historically is I have a really hard time with "multiple perspective" books where each one is by a different character or happening at a different time. And it's super common in SF and it just creates friction for me. Just my thing, nothing wrong with the books. Her books were always, iirc, one character narrating. This one... doesn't quite do that and so I had that "Spend a few pages confused and sorting out the new perspective" thing towards the end of it. I thought it was masterfully done and raised a LOT of questions. Also I couldn't keep Arada and Amena separate as characters.

Gender language in general.

Wells is really good at this, her use of pronouns is really intentional. I was curious how Matteo was framed, from the get-go, as using they pronouns and I assume it had to do with a feed tag or otherwise, I may have missed a sentence.

I also really liked the odd factionalism with the Targets. "We're not the ones who did that, the bad Targets did!" I would have liked a little more explainy-stuff towards the end about the controlling devices that were implanted. I was so sure towards the end that Murderbot was going to lost its body and then have their consciousness (Murderbot 2.0) somehow implanted into Three and have to re-make some body choices all over again. I'm happy with how everything was sewn up.
posted by jessamyn at 10:04 AM on May 17


At some point I'd like an exploration about why Murderbot differentiates humans and augmented humans.

Martha Wells mentioned in an interview recently that this is a strictly Murderbot thing: it perceives augmented humans as somewhat more of a threat to its "cover", so it always notices them as augmented humans rather than just humans. Society as a whole apparently doesn't much make a distinction between augmented/non-augmented.
posted by yasaman at 1:33 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Hello, yes, thankyou, may I have more Murderbot? (meatbags)
posted by Marticus at 6:32 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


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