Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

Please note that this review contains spoilers for the previous book in this series. Read my review of All Systems Red.

Artificial Condition is an interesting continuation of Murderbot’s story. The reader leaves Dr. Mensah and others behind as Murderbot hacks its way onto unmanned cargo ships on a journey to discover what was responsible for its original malfunction which killed 57 people. Previously the story was controlled by outside variables, the Company, Murderbot’s clients, etc. But now as Murderbot is free, disguising itself as an augmented human, it can do what it wants. Only it doesn’t quite know how to handle that.

In many ways, this arc is necessary for Murderbot to become a free person. It needs to know what really happened at that old mining facility, whether it was responsible for the malfunction by hacking its government module, or if it was someone else. Murderbot can’t move on until this issue is resolved. So off it goes, hacking into unmanned cargo ships heading to wards the mining facility where it all happened, until it stumbles onto ART.

ART (which stands for Asshole Research Transport) is my favourite new character in this book. A super powerful ship that is owned by a university that does cargo runs in the non-academic season. ART is a great character, but is also a wonderful foil for Murderbot as it struggles to understand its identity in relation to humans. ART has a crew it cares for deeply. Murderbot has Dr. Mensah and others from Preservation. But maybe they hate Murderbot for running away? It’s really all too much emotion so it’s better to rewatch Sanctuary Moon again.

Continuing the great humour in All Systems Red, Artificial Condition contains such gems like Murderbot trying to impersonate a human, Murderbot gaining a career as a security consultant, Murderbot trying to keep human clients alive (again), and excellent banter between ART and Murderbot. This novella is an excellent continuation in the series.

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About the Author

Martha Wells has been an SF/F writer since her first fantasy novel was published in 1993, and her work includes The Books of the Raksura series, The Death of the Necromancer, the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, The Murderbot Diaries series, media tie-in fiction for Star WarsStargate: Atlantis, and Magic: the Gathering, as well as short fiction, YA novels, and non-fiction. She has won a Nebula Award, two Hugo Awards, two Locus Awards, and her work has appeared on the Philip K. Dick Award ballot, the BSFA Award ballot, the USA Today Bestseller List, and the New York Times Bestseller List. Her books have been published in twenty languages.

You can find her at marthawells.com or on Twitter at @marthawells1.



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