• The Good: Rogue self-aware security android on a mission to discover her violent past
  • The Bad: Less action than you’d expect from a robot designed for murder
  • The Literary: Surprisingly human character hidden within an android

Murderbot is a security android, created by The Company to protect and serve humans, often on exploratory missions to new planets. But this particular SecUnit has hacked her own governor module, is self-aware, and is the only one who refers to herself as Murderbot. She wants more out of life than protecting humans, especially since she’s discovered sitcoms.

In the first novella of this series, All Systems Red, I expected an action-packed killer robot story. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to read about a killer robot whose heart isn’t really in it anymore but can’t let on that she is self-aware. She’s cynical and sulky. In the end, she discovers she wants to protect humans after all, and the climax is an exciting shoot-em-up after all. With a simple plot and light prose, the popcorn story set in a scifi universe is a lot of fun.

Now, in Artificial Condition, Murderbot is on the run as an undercover, a rogue self-aware SecUnit on a mission to find out details surrounding her jump to consciousness and all those hazy memories of the humans she once massacred. On the way to the mining facility where it all went down, Murderbot unexpectedly teams up with an eager Research Transport Vessel named ART. Murderbot introduces ART to the wonderful world of sit-coms and soap operas, and together they attempt to unravel the mystery that is humankind. It would be so much easier if they could just murder all the humans.

This series is still quite fluffy, but I’m finding the grumpy, sarcastic Murderbot to be quite sneaky. She’s a strong capable robot, but she’s also vulnerable and unsure of her identity, so she immerses herself in fictional worlds. In this second volume, she’s without her SecUnit mask, passing as an enhanced human, hiding an essential part of herself from a world that would be frightened of her. Some of the best scifi is a reflection of ourselves. Maybe there’s a little Murderbot in all of us.

“I was only 97 percent certain this meeting was a trap.”