This is the second in a series of award-winning sci-fi novellas from master storyteller Martha Wells. This one, like the first, “All Systems Red,” is relatively short, only 3 hours and 21 minutes long (the paperback is 160 pages). But the strong themes are wonderfully intertwined with the action.
“Murderbot” is a rogue security unit—a SecUnit, half android/half human—who was manufactured by and works for The Company, the megacorporation that more-or-less runs the galaxy. He has modified his own programming after a mistake caused the deaths of previous clients, and he’s now trying to find the cause of the tragedy.
That’s the plot, but the theme is Identity, with a capital I.
Murderbot knows what he is. He has a strong urge to kill humans, but he knows he’s not supposed to. For that reason, he doesn’t interact with people well, and we can all relate to that. The character is not exactly likable, but his sense of morality keeps him from being an antagonist. The addition of an AI shipboard computer in this book is enjoyable and serves as a balance to the human characters.
Free does a fine, if a bit bland, job with the narration; his pacing, accents, and inflections are very good.
Highly recommended (in any format) to sci-fi readers. I can’t wait for the next adventure of Murderbot.