Thursday, August 4, 2022

Martha Wells - Artificial Condition

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…

Comment: This will be a simple and quick comment, only for my personal registers. I've read the first book in this Murderbot series, so well liked by many readers and it was certainly unique, and I've decided to keep up the read but I must say I wasn't as dazzled by this second story.

In this second story, which closely follows the events of the first book, Murderbot has decided to leave the safety of his previous employer's help so that he 

- I'll use the masculine pronoun to make my text simpler - 

can keep searching for the information on what truly happened when his system was deactivated and he participated in the murder of some people in a previous mission. Therefore, he decides to travel in a ship which is going to that area, because what better tactic than to go back to where it all happened?

Again, I've liked reading this story, it's also novella sized and this makes for a quick read. I wanted something not too big to finish the month and this was perfect. I still remembered some things from the first story and it was easy to get back to the events from it and it did feel as if the story just kept going. I can suppose this is the intention of the author in writing things this way, more like slices of life in sequence than completely individual plots.

In this new adventure Murderbot finds another friend, the AI in the vessel in which he is traveling and in between sharing a love for human made serials, his new friend also helps Murderbot with some details so that he can achieve his goals when he arrives at the mining facility. I think these little things were interesting mostly because they help the reader understand Murderbot a bit more, considering he is not human but many of his reactions are seen as if he could be.

In fact, this is the appeal of the concept: how a character who isn't human reacts among humans and learns and emulates so many of the human reactions and emotions but in a non human way. It sounds complicated but it's actually cute to see Murderbot processing things and try to read between the lines. However, the fascinating part is also the trickiest one because it can be difficult to see the changes in Murderbot and in his evolution. I confess I struggled a little to follow some of the steps and I kind of wanted him to interact even more with more characters. Some of the things he shares aren't that obvious and I feel there is always something I'm missing out.

In this novella, while searching for what he wants, he ends up helping a small group of humans too and it is clear that this is done to add action and more proof he is learning and getting more and more alike a human, not just in appearance but in reactions. I still can't describe Murderbot and I find it hard to imagine his human features and his robotic ones. I admit I picture that robocop character from movies but since I didn't like that movie, it's quite difficult to compare with something positive.

It's true that this is a quick, imaginative story, from a bigger fun picture but... I kind of expected to like it more and I feel perhaps I'm not seeing what others do...
Grade: 6/10

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