Artificial Condition

Artificial ConditionArtificial Condition by Martha Wells
Series: Murderbot Diaries #2
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: May 8, 2018
Pages: 158
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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…

I was in two minds about the first book in this series. On one hand, the main character developed too late for the story to grip me. On the other hand, by the end of the story I was left with a character that, I felt, had a huge amount of potential. Delightfully, Artificial Condition is a brilliant sequel in which that character turns out to be all I hoped that it would be – and more.

Our main character, the Murderbot, is now setting out to solve the mystery of it’s past. In doing so, it accidentally, unwillingly, and reluctantly teams up with a transport ship, and together they set out to solve the problems the Murderbot finds itself having to confront while getting to where it needs to be.

The relationship between the ship, lovingly referred to by our Murderbot as ART, and the Murderbot itself is amazing. It’s one of the loveliest, most charming, relationships I’ve read for a long time, which is saying something considering that one of the parties is a spaceship, and the other is part human, mostly machine. There are many themes at play, and there is something really deep about the way Murderbot sees itself, and the way in which it is trying to come to terms with what it is. More than most books, this book will speak in very different ways to different people, but I think almost everyone will be touched in some way by the way Murderbot views the world, and their own place in it. It’s fascinating how a character like Murderbot can exhibit humanity in a way that I’m suspecting only a not-really-human could possibly do. There is something special about a character that tries its best, albeit imperfectly, to act in the way it thinks a decent human should act, rather than feeling compelled to act a certain way because that’s what’s expected of it. And there is something touching about the raw vulnerability the Murderbot exposes itself to in doing so.

Artificial Condition is a quick, wonderful, heart-warming, funny, never-boring little story. I feel like I’m late to the Murderbot party, and am tempted to blame everyone around me for not inviting me sooner. I’m looking forward to continuing to read the series, but if it keeps on being this good it deserves much more hype than I’ve seen it getting.

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