I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
An awesome sequel to All Systems Red, Artificial Condition pumps up the fun and action.
Before I continue, I maintain that our genderless robotic main protagonist sounded female in my mind and hence, I will refer to it as she. Our sardonic SecUnit decided to return to the mining planet where a prior incident culminated in her self-christening as Murderbot, with the intention to investigate the real cause of the said incident. In the course of attempting to hitch a ride there without being caught, she managed to bribe her way through by offering the transport bots her treasure trove of media, books, serials, and music downloads. I don’t know about other readers, but this cracks me up so much!
On the final transport to her desired destination, she found an artificial intelligence onboard that is more than her match, and also just a bit too curious. The interaction between the Murderbot and the transport AI made up some of the most amusing moments I’ve ever read. With this, Ms Murderbot got herself an accomplice on her mission, whom she nicknamed ART (No, I am not going to reveal what that stands for – just read it!). But to get onto the mining planet, without being detected given her standard SecUnit specifications, she needed to be more ‘human’. Yikes!
Yes, the giant transport bot is going to help the construct SecUnit pretend to be human. This will go well.
The worldbuilding remains a tad vague throughout the books so far. However, it is not anything that most science fiction books or even movies have not shown before. Human-like robotic units and augmented humans, multi-level spaceports, shuttles, tubes and large transports. None of these can be too difficult to imagine or picture in one’s head if you have watched enough sci-fi movies. This in effect enables the story to move forward with a brisk pace without spending too much time on describing the setting; a desirous outcome for a novella that has less than 200 pages to complete its plot narrative.
In short, we have an absorbing and immensely entertaining novella that delivers everything it needs to in a shorter reading time. There is an adequately developed subplot within the larger arc of her investigation of the aforementioned incident which provided cool moments of suspense and action. A SecUnit trying to pass off as human and her artful sidekick was just loads of fun (and pun entirely intended). Most importantly, we are provided with the superb character development of the Murderbot; as she tries to embrace her freedom and act more human, she seems to become more human. Moreover, while socially anxious, Ms Murderbot is not one to pull any punches when the situation requires her to be badass. Don’t mess with SecUnits, alright?!
“I don’t make threats. I’m just telling you what I’m going to do.”
Bring on Rogue Protocol right now! I can’t wait to follow the Murderbot on her next adventure – what is she is going to do next?
Review originally written in April 2018