This is a review of “Artificial Condition“, the second book in Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries series.
The review of the first book can be found here.
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 named ART, Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…
The universe of this world is further expanded. Not only with new places that are fascinatingly depicted despite the minimal attention paid to it. But there is also more information on things from the first book, and even Murderbot realising that the company it worked for wasn’t the be-all, end-all.
Our heroic Murderbot is learning what it means to be human, and all the choices, faults, and consequences that come with it. It is frightening and it would be so much easier to slip back into the antipathy of Murderbot’s previous existence. Murderbot learning to be human might not be deeply detailed, but it gives enough detail to make the journey amazing. This is obviously more important than the mystery of its past.
The humans that Murderbot ends up meeting during this story, were there too short to really make any real impact. But they did give a deeper look into the incredibly varied ways humans have evolved in the future where the story takes place. And they, once again, help Murderbot learn more about being human.
ART the research vessel used for cargo hauling, was a wonderful addition to the story. Snarky and smart, it is like the bot version of a genius professor. It was also a good choice to make it sentient as it was – even if it was verey convenient for Murderbot to end up with the one ship who could help it as much as it did. And although it didn’t do much or feature much in the story, the same could be said for the ComfortUnit/sexbot.
It makes Murderbot more realistic when it isn’t the only bot in existance capable of controlling itself without going rogue.
There is only one thing that is slightly negative about this book, and it might just be a pet peeve rather than anything serious.
The mystery of what happened during the Murderbot’s past, the bit that had been deleted from their memory, was a bit of a disappointment. It was refreshing that there was no great evil plot from anyone, just a simple attempt at sabotage that went wrong. But with how much buildup there was in the previous book and this one, it was a bit of a disappointment. It didn’t quite deliver on the promise of the book’s summary.
I definitely recommend this book and the previous one, and I am already looking forward to reading the third one.