Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Review: Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy and Network Effect

I binge read (well, listened to) the three remaining books in Martha Well's Murderbot Diary series Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy and Network Effect. I did so with the gusto normally reserved for binge watch a TV series I'm hooked on. While the books have similar plots, the characters and scenarios were different enough that I never tired of them. What a joy it is to find a series that you just can't put down.

I continue to be impressed by the diversity that the Wells brings to her characters, both human and non-human. At times, it's bots that show brilliance and empathy and at other times it's humans that do so.

I kept thinking back to the TV show The Good Doctor. Murderbot and the protagonist of the TV Show, Dr. Shaun Murphy, are brilliant problem solvers with super human gifts, yet they can be stumped by the simplest of human interactions. One feature of the TV show is that they manage to show Murphy in both these lights, casting a truly fascinating shadow on those around him. There may be times you may feel sympathy for Murphy and wish he could be 'normal', though just as often you feel sorry for his co-workers who are, alas, just 'normal.'

Wells brings this same dynamic to the Murderbot, and it adds real depth to the characters.

I noted in my review of Artificial Condition that Wells cleverly highlights ethical questions about AI and cloning. I say cleverly, because she manages to wrap these very thorny problems in a veneer of fun and adventure. I liked how she continued this practice in the three remaining books I read.

I don't recall which book it was, but at one point one of the humans explains to Murderbot that her ancestors, like him, arrived on their planet packed in the cargo hold. I found this exchange to be incredibly powerful, as it brought to mind images of slave ships and their implication.

Like all good series, I was both pleased and bummed to finally finish it. Though, I see from looking up the books on Amazon that there's a 6th book coming out. I can't wait!

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