Title: Artificial Condition
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Artificial Intelligence
The second installment of Martha Wells’ endearing Murderbot Diaries picks up where the first left off—to great effect! Murderbot is on a mission to figure out what caused it go rogue at the RaviHyral mining facility, an event that has haunted it for a long time. But during the trip, Murderbot ends up playing private security to a group of humans and once again finds itself conflicted about its own identity and what kind of Murderbot it really wants to be.
Just like in book one, Murderbot’s personality shines in this book. The deadpan commentary had me laughing throughout the book, and Murderbot’s steadfast dedication to being the most introverted being in the universe really resonated with me.
In addition, Murderbot’s interactions with ART were golden. ART played a very welcome and crucial role in Murderbot’s development by challenging its irrational thoughts and feelings, and forcing Murderbot to admit things it would otherwise keep bottled up. I really ART enjoyed as a character.
Once again, the human characters were less fleshed out than the artificial sort, but I didn’t particularly mind that because it’s refreshing to have a narrative so focused on an “alternative intelligence” who straddles the line between human and not. Humans in this series are primarily there to cause Murderbot to ask itself difficult existential questions. It’s Murderbot’s own personality that carries the story—and that’s just fine for me.
If I had to make one criticism of this book, it would be that the revelation of the truth about the RaviHyral disaster wrapped up a little too quickly, without enough fanfare, when it was initially presented as the primary plot of the story. I thought that could have been drawn out a little more, or had an extra twist or two, though I understand the books in this series are supposed to be rather short, so I won’t fault the author too much for a truncated plot line.
Overall, this book was fantastic! I look forward to reading the third book in the series as soon as I can get my hands on it.