Martha Wells

Books: Fantasy | Science Fiction | Queer

The Death of the Necromancer (1998)

The Murderbot Diaries: All Systems Red (2017), Artificial Condition (2018), Rogue Protocol (2018), Exit Strategy (2018), Network Effect (2020), Fugitive Telemetry (2021), Compulsory (2023), System Collapse (2023)

The Death of the Necromancer (1998)

Death-NecromancerNicholas Valiarde wants more than anything in the world to avenge the death of his foster father.

The fact his foster father was hung for practicing necromancy (a charge that was proved, to late, to be false) doesn't cause Nic to hesitate. Nor does the fact that Inspector Rosarde, the very man whose testimony lead to the conviction of his foster father, seems to be close to discovering the true identity of Donatien, Nic's second identity as a criminal mastermind.

Nicholas had learned early that on of the chief problems in deception was the tendency to try to over explain one's actions. The truth was that people did the oddest things for the most inconsequential reasons and elaborate justifications only made one look guilty.

Also, we find Madeline, actress and Nic's love, Reynard, the disgraced cavalry officer, and various other individuals loyal to Nic.

The story is sent in a world that somewhat parallels Europe in the 1800s, but not quite, and with magic. To be honest, I'm rather fond of the setting, since it lets one pick and choose from the various qualities and ideas of the time. (Women seem far less to be considered chattel, which is a nice change, as is the more accepting attitude towards homosexuality.)

It also has some of the manners, which are always fun.

"But you're still the heir to the Alsene properties."

"Like being the heir to Hell, only less glamorous."

It was a somewhat slow read, but I did enjoy it.

Published by Martha Wells

Rating: 8/10

The Murderbot Diaries

Compulsory (2023)


Thank you Tania! <3

Publisher: Subterranean Press

All Systems Red (2017)

All Systems RedLet me remind y'all: I generally don't like science fiction.

I just don't.

But everyone who has similar tastes to me has recommended this book so highly–and recommended it as a comfort read–I decided to see what I thought. After all, it's a novella, not a huge undertaking.

Y'all, read it almost in one sitting.

I COULD HAVE BECOME a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don't know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.

That is Murderbot.

Murderbot does their job, even though they don't have to, and even though the company that owns them doesn't put that much effort into all parts of Murderbot.

I ran my field camera back a little and saw I had gotten stabbed with a tooth, or maybe a cilia. Did I mean a cilia or was that something else? They don't give murderbots decent education modules on anything except murdering, and even those are the cheap versions.

This is a science fiction murder mystery with a super snarky android who is trying to hide that they are super snarky and operating in a way they really are not supposed to.

At least Mensah and Arada had overruled the ones who wanted to talk to me about it. Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency. I'd rather climb back into Hostile One's mouth.

Oh, the other thing this story does is force you to think about what is–and is not–life, and what deserves full rights and what is property. Except it's so full of snark you don't realize you're contemplating all these things.

As I said, it's marvelous.

Publisher: Tor

Audio Edition (2017) narrated by Kevin R. Free

Publisher: Recorded Books

Artificial Condition (2018)

Artificial ConditionMurderbot wants to go back to RaviHyral Mining Facility Q Station to see if it can figure out what caused it to go rogue and kill a bunch of humans.

My memory of the incident was partially purged. SecUnit memory purges are always partial, due to the organic parts inside our heads. The purge can't wipe memory from organic neural tissue.

What is Murderbot? It is a rogue SecUnit.

When constructs were first developed, they were originally supposed to have a pre-sentient level of intelligence, like the dumber variety of bot. But you can't put something as dumb as a hauler bot in charge of security for anything without spending even more money for expensive company-employed human supervisors. So they made us smarter. The anxiety and depression were side effects.

But Murderbot doesn't actually want to murder. It just wants to discover why the massacre on RaviHyral happened.

And watch the entertainment feed.

But when Murderbot offers to trade entertainment for a ride, it gets more than it expected.

I said, "Watch it yourself."

I tried. I can process the media more easily through your filter.

That made me stop. I didn't understand the problem.

It explained, When my crew plays media, I can't process the context. Human interactions and environments outside my hull are largely unfamiliar.

And it seems to accidentally make a friend.

It will be simple, ART insisted. I'll assist you.

Yes, the giant transport bot is going to help the construct SecUnit pretend to be human. This will go well.

This series is SO! DELIGHTFUL!

I am going to try as hard as a can to draw out how long it takes me to read through the series, because I don't want it to be over too soon.

Publisher: Tordotcom

Audio Edition (2018) narrated by Kevin R. Free

Publisher: Recorded Books

Rogue Protocol (2018)

Rogue ProtocolMURDERBOT!

Murderbot is still trying to figure out what happened with GrayCis corporation their teams tried to kill the group Murderbot was working for. So off Murderbot goes to look for evidence.

Purely for selfish reasons, of course.

If Dr. Mensah had proof of that, the investigation against GrayCris would get a lot more interesting. Maybe so interesting that the journalists would forget all about that stray SecUnit. And then Dr. Mensah wouldn't be needed on Port FreeCommerce and she could go back to Preservation where it was safe and I could stop worrying about her.

Murderbot sneaks aboard a shuttle to try and figure out what GrayCris had been doing, and although the expected answer was: nothing good. Luckily, humans are often stupid.

Somebody had thought to order them to dump their logs (which would void their warranties, but I guess since the facility was supposed to fall into the planet, nobody had cared). Unfortunately for that somebody, the diggers had dumped their logs into their buffers and then been shut down before the buffers timed out and deleted.

I am trying to decide if I can hold off reading the next book, or if I need to read it RIGHT NOW.

Publisher: Tordotcom

Audio Edition (2018)  narrated by Kevin R. Free

Publisher: Recorded Books

Exit Strategy (2018)

Exit StrategyMURDERBOT!

(Possibly I was overthinking this. I do that; it's the anxiety that comes with being a part-organic murderbot. The upside was paranoid attention to detail. The downside was also paranoid attention to detail.)

After escaping mostly unscathed from the discovery that GrayCris had not been terraforming Milu but instead mining alien artifacts, Murderbot discovered that Dr. Mensah has probably been kidnapped by GrayCris.

So Murderbot decides they are obliged to rescue Dr. Mensah. Definitely not for sentimental reasons.

She glared at me. "You left."

Somehow I hadn't expected that. I said, "Mensah said I could learn to do anything I wanted. I learned to leave."

I love Murderbot.

SecUnits are never allowed to sit down or use human furniture whether on or off duty, so I sat in one of the chairs and put my feet up on the table. Then I took my feet off the table because it wasn't comfortable. I entertained myself by infiltrating the hotel's security system while I waited.

This series is just so much all the things.

Disinformation, which is the same as lying but for some reason has a different name, is the top tactic in corporate negotiation/ warfare.

I am barely holding off jumping immediately into the next story.

Publisher: Tordotcom

Audio Edition (2018) narrated by Kevin R. Free

Publisher: Recorded Books

Network Effect (2020)

Network Effect: A Murderbot NovelMURDERBOT

Murderbot has gone off on a research expedition with several of Dr Mensah's family members.

Thiago: "You trust it that much?"

Mensah: "With my life, literally. I know what it will do to protect her, and you, and the rest of the team. Of course, it has its faults. In fact, it's probably listening to us right now. Are you listening, SecUnit?"

Me, on the feed: What? No.

Unfortunately, as often happens, shit goes down and Murderbot has to try to save everyone.

"What is that thing?" Target Leader demanded. "What are you? You're a bot?"

Thiago said, "It's a security unit. A bot/ human construct."

Target Leader didn't seem to believe him. "Why does it look like a person?"

I said, "I ask myself that sometimes."

Theoretically, you could start here.

But you don't want to.

Publisher: Tordotcom

Audio Edition narrated by Kevin R. Free

Publisher: Recorded Books

January 2023 | Rating: 9.5/10

Fugitive Telemetry (2021)

Fugitive TelemetryThe Preservation Alliance is a peaceful planetary area–which is why most people don't know what to make of Murderbot.

(T)he humans on the Station wouldn't have to think about what I was, a construct made of cloned human tissue, augments, anxiety, depression, and unfocused rage, a killing machine for whichever humans rented me.

All Murderbot wants to do is keep Dr Mensah safe. But it's not easy.

(Station Security was used to getting messages from me about their completely inadequate arrangements for Mensah's security.)

When a dead body is found, everyone immediately thinks it is GrayCris making a move on Dr Mensah, which means Murderbot needs to work with Station Security and Port Authority to find out what is happening.

Yes, this is a Murderbot murder mystery.

A Murderbot Mystery. With Murder.

It's delightful.

Senior Indah stopped looking at me to glare at Pin-Lee. "All we're asking for is a name."

I have a name, but it's private.

On their secure feed connection, Pin-Lee sent to Mensah, Oh, that's going to go over well. When station residents are running into "Murderbot"

That's one of the reasons why it's private.

I love Murderbot.

Publisher: Tordotcom

System Collapse (2023)

System CollapseMURDERBOT!

This story picks up immediately following the events of Network Effect–ART and Murderbot are trying to keep their humans safe from the Barish-Estranza corporation while forging a planetary charter and waiting for reinforcement from ART's university.

It's going as it always does for Murderbot.

So the next time I get optimistic about something, I want one of you to punch me in the face. Okay, not really, because let's be real, that would end badly. Maybe remind me to punch myself in the face.

On the team feed, ART said, SecUnit, status report.

Or punch ART in the face. I sent back, I wish I could punch you in the face.

ART said, I wish you could try.

I love every new thing we learn about ART.

(According to Martyn, ART is of course capable of doing its own accounting, but it always ends up with extra numbers that no one can trace. So now Turi does it and has to keep a hardcopy ledger because otherwise ART would alter their data. No one knew if ART was making up numbers for the hell of it or if these numbers represented actual credit balances that ART was hiding somewhere.)

And ART's interactions.

ART transmitted, You can make this complicated situation simple for me. Which I can tell you was not any kind of posturing, it 100 percent meant that. Barish-Estranza must have picked up on that subtext because they backed down and now they think ART is a human commanding officer who's a giant asshole.

ART doesn't enjoy terrifying people, it enjoys getting its own way and it has a variety of techniques it finds effective for that and vaguely or not-so-vaguely threatening statements are sure one of them. Iris is also correct that ART is still processing its traumatic experience and the fact that it had such a great result with arming its pathfinders and making the colonists think it was about to bomb the crap out of them is maybe something we should worry about, but I just have a lot to do right now, okay.

On of the things this story looks into is how Murderbot is dealing with the events that happened since it met Dr Mensha and her group.

I realized I was sitting in a huddle on the floor, my face buried in my hands. When I looked up, ART-drone said, What happened? I didn't want to interrupt while your stats indicated a positive development.

I said, I had an idea.

I liked it, but I need to reread it; I don't have a lot of focus right now, and found myself having to reread passages.

Publisher: Tordotcom

November 2023 | Rating: 8.5/10