Recommended Reading: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Friends! You want to read The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells, starting with All Systems Red.

Here’s the back blurb:

“In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

“But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

“On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid—a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

“But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.”

So this is a space opera starring and narrated by a “rogue” SecUnit, an enslaved android in a universe full of many types of enslaved humans, android, and other AI, all beholden to corporations and their profits and whims. We know how evil corporations are and how much more evil they will be, but Wells includes a wonderful foil of a non-corporate plant with people who believe in (real) freedom, mutual aid, community care, environmental stability, and flourishing for all.

Granted, the characters from this planet don’t get a lot of screen time until later in the series. I’m currently on book 5, Network Effect, and I’m just LOVING being back with more of the liberated humans and watching them struggle to interact with humans from corporations, with all of their posturing and dominance displays the liberated humans never participate in and don’t understand. For the liberated humans, trying to profit off of basic necessities like food, water, and utilities is offensive. Charging for life-saving interventions is so abhorrent it’s right up there with cannibalism.

Murderbot is a wonderful character full of lots of personality and conflicting emotions, just like any other person. We meet so many other great characters as well. The books are really fast reads, particularly 1-4, which are pretty short. 5 is longer, and I’m enjoying sinking my teeth into a longer story line that follows the previous story lines.

Highly recommend. Much to think on and digest in these books, about what actual freedom is, who deserves freedom, and what we want the world to look like. Do you favor a world where corporations enslave people and ruin entire planets while the humans who work for them are constantly miserable and in a state of wanting more, but the things they’re told to want are never enough? Or do you favor a world where we all work together and love and support each other and we all have what we need, basic necessities of food, water, shelter, but also those other basic necessities of loving relationships, dignity, worth, and actual agency?

 

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