[This fragment is available in an audio version.]

I suffered a massive loss of productivity for a few days last week because I started reading the first of this series and found that I had to read them all pretty much without stopping.

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Several people on social media and in real life, people whose taste I respect, had recommended these books by Martha Wells, but to be honest I was put off by the title. Right at this point in time I’m not looking for dark dystopian ultraviolence.

What happened was, Lauren found Network Effect (vol. 5) in one of the local Little Free Libraries and raved, so we both went back to the start and moved on from there. Hmm, I’m wondering if the increasingly ubiquitous LFL’s are becoming a force in book culture. Our experience suggests that publishers of extended series might benefit from driving around dropping individual books into LFL’s here and there.

But back to the books. Yes, there is ultraviolence. But the people and bots on the receiving ends pretty well all deserve what they’re getting. And anyhow that’s less than half the material. The majority is occupied by the protagonist’s internal monologue. Which is misanthropic, cynical and amusing, and has much more depth than would really be needed to just move the story along. It is impossible — well, it was impossible for me — to avoid starting to care about them.

The central issue is that while the protagonist does not think it’s human, it oozes humanity all over the place. And isn’t terribly happy about it.

Anyhow, fun stuff, super well-written, unqualifiedly recommended.

TV? · These days, any time you find yourself enjoying a fiction series, you have to wonder how it’ll play in extended-story-arc streaming TV.

Murderbot, well, I dunno. The ultraviolence could be done with lots of sci-fi-eye candy in The Expanse style, I imagine. But all that running commentary? It could be done — you’d need a super strong voice actor in perfect command of a broad range of tones. And I sense (but don’t have a clear picture of) an opportunity to break the fourth wall, where the diary itself becomes a character in the story.

Anyhow, if you haven’t read it already, chances are you’d enjoy it.

[Disclosure: There’s a link above to the books at Amazon and if you click it I might make a few pennies. Click like mad!]


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From: Geoff Arnold (Jul 11 2021, at 10:20)

I was into Martha Wells' fantasy novels before she started the Murderbot series, although I found them a bit hit or miss. But Murderbot is her best work by a long way - average time lag from "pre-ordered ebook hits my Kindle" to "start reading" is around 15 minutes, day or night.


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July 10, 2021
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