Saturday, May 12, 2018

Short Fiction Friday, er Saturday: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

Murderbot is on the run and on a mission!

After hacking itself and being bought out by its client, Murderbot sets off on its own. It doesn't exactly have the blessing of that new owner but it doesn't care. Being beholden to humans isn't its idea of fun. And neither is not knowing its own story.

Apparently Murderbot turned on its clients during a past job - or so the story goes. As the only surviving SecUnit of an incident that's said to have been a massive malfunction, it believes the only reason it was put back into service was because it was too big of an investment to scrap. But its memory of the event in question was wiped. And given recent events, it can't be certain the story released to the public is the real thing.

But finding out the truth isn't as easy as it might seem. The site of the incident has been shuttered, the exact location wiped from record and Murderbot, because of recent publicity, isn't exactly unrecognizable. In order to get what it needs, it'll have to enlist help from an unexpected source.

Ooh, Murderbot! I love Murderbot so much!

As it travels trying to find out its own past, it's on a journey that makes it more and more human with each passing day. Both literally and figuratively considering it has to change its appearance and mannerisms in this second installment in order to go undercover and pass as human.

But it keeps getting tangled up in human issues!

Murderbot hasn't exactly been treated great. Even though its memory banks are wiped with each new assignment - security for hire is what it was built for and following human orders is deeply ingrained programming for all bots and SecUnits. Witnessing how others are treated is enough for it to know that this blind submission is not something it's anxious to return to. But if anyone discovers its newfound independence, it risks being reprogrammed!

While the main character in this series is a robot, it should be obvious that it's the kind of character and story anyone can identify with. Murderbot wants to be autonomous. It doesn't want to be at the mercy of its clients' whims and fancies. Nor does it want to be responsible for actions beyond its control.

But it also doesn't want to be involved in politics. Unfortunately, it can't seem to avoid them. Murderbot, in spite of programming, has a conscience and a moral code!

Wells is a truly brilliant writer. This series, each new installment, is short and sweet but packs such a big punch in terms of both emotion and plot. I desperately want more Murderbot and can't wait for each new piece of its story to arrive!

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