SciFi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.
And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.
When we last left off, Murderbot had finally found out the truth of the incident at the mining facility on RaviHyral that was responsible for its original malfunction which killed 57 people. Now free of this burden, Murderbot is able to decide what it wants to do. And it decides to help Dr. Mesah buy gathering information about GrayCris, the company that tried to kill the Preservation team back in All Systems Red. So Murderbot says goodbye to ART, and heads off to the planet Milu, impersonating a human security consultant again, to get information about GrayCris’ former activity there.
I love Rogue Protocol for a couple of reasons. It’s a turning point in Murderbot’s character arc, where Murderbot choses to do something, not to prove anything to itself or other people, but because it wants to help. The relationship between Dr. Mensah and Murderbot is complex, and to be honest, Murderbot would prefer to not think too much about it because that opens a whole can of worms regarding autonomy and personhood.
There’s no reason for Murderbot to go find information to help Dr. Mensah. It’s found out what happened in it’s past, it’s no longer company property (though it technically belongs to Dr. Mensah). I’m a strong believer that to be a person is to help others. We often equate this with a sense of being human (having not met any aliens [that we know of]). But Murderbot isn’t human. It’s neither a machine, but a combination of organic and mechanical processes. Murderbot has made tough decisions before, but this is a turning point where Murderbot makes a decision to help others even though it’s not part of its job and there is no benefit for it. Rather there’s a significant amount of danger which I won’t spoil if you haven’t read the whole book yet.
Rogue Protocol also introduces a second character foil for Murderbot, a bot named Miki. Like ART, Miki cares deeply for the humans who own it. The relationship between Murderbot and Miki again expands on the notion of what it means to be a person and the definition of free will. I love the whole Murderbot series, but this novella has a special place in my heart for having made me cry at the end.
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 Wars, Stargate: 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.