The Murderbot Diaries – A Review

Illustration of a cyborg on a black background, Citation reads: Image by Peter Pieras from Pixabay

“murderbot + actual human = awkwardness.”

~ Martha Wells, All Systems Red

Martha Wells’s The Murderbot Diaries is a sci-fi series consisting of All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1); Artificial Condition (The Murderbot Diaries, #2), Rogue Protocol (The Murderbot Diaries, #3), Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries, #4), and the novel: Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5).

In 2021, Wells published Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries, #6) the fifth novella in the series, with another three novellas still to follow.

Wells creates an intriguing world where large for-profit corporations provide interplanetary exploration groups with needed supplies and transport. The company also offers security units (murderbots) for protection. These cyborgs are fitted with a governing module that renders them unable to refuse clients’ directives while also spying on them for the company.

The narrator is a sarcastic, introverted, antisocial protagonist with a dry sense of humour — designed to protect humans on planet-surveying missions. Our antihero is not all that it seems, confessing to the reader, “…as a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.” It would rather consume about 35,000 hours of media than go on a murdering rampage. Soon enough, the mission begins to go south. Who is pulling the strings? What is the truth underlying Murderbot’s fragmented memory?

image shows a silhouette of a human in the distance surrounded by binary code
Image by Dr StClaire from Pixabay

When the exploration team faces unknown assailants, the expedition is thrown into chaos. Murderbot battles to save its human charges and uncover GreyCris Corporation’s diabolical plan. With tactical and technical prowess, Murderbot leads us on a harrowing and suspenseful adventure.

Throughout the series, the tale of the SecUnit (who claims to be a heartless, killing machine) continues, as it strikes out on its own. Determined to discover the truth behind GreyCris’s corporate façade, MurderBot fights threatening adversaries, saves vulnerable humans, and encounters other endearing, comical, and mechanical-minded AIs.

With each installment, the Murderbot comes closer to solving the mystery and experiences the angst of emotional development while realizing its individual autonomy.

I found The Murderbot Diaries to be a treatise on social, justice, and environmental issues wrapped in light science fiction anchored by an action-packed, suspenseful plot.

Readers of all genres will enjoy these books. There is something for everyone in this delightful series: a captivating main character, quirky secondary personalities, compelling themes, a lively narrative, and enough humour to balance the tense conflict scenes. I highly recommend this series.