Fugitive Telemetry – Martha Wells

“The dead human was lying on the deck, on their side, half curled around.”

The book comes with its own summary, far better than I could write, so here it is:

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Set before book 5, Network Effect, (which rather confused me, tbh), we once again meet up with Murderbot, the sarcastic SecUnit who hacked its own governor module so that it could watch tv instead, and has over the course of 4 previous novellas and a novel-length story gone about learning how to function in the human world.

We find ourselves back on Preservation Station (urm, not that the whole book 5 thing happened yet, oh dear!) just in time for a Murder(bot) Mystery! A dead body has been found, but no one knows who he is or where he came from, never mind who killed him or why. Still on high alert for GreyCris threats to Dr Mensah, Murderbot is keen to be involved in the investigation. However, while it seems to have been accepted by the players from the previous novellas – Dr Mensah, Ratthi, etc – the rest of the Station’s inhabitants may still have some reservations about allowing a lethal killing machine access to their home. It’s perhaps the biggest show yet of the prejudice Murderbot faces, and it’s handled ever so well. It’s contrasted perfectly, too, against the friendships that are evolving, almost against the SecUnit’s will, and I won’t lie just make me so so happy to read 🙂

One criticism (of my beloved Murderbot?! How dare they!!) I’ve seen in another review is that the SecUnit has such a strong set of skills – not just the murdering, but the mad hacking skillz – that sometimes things seems a little too easy for it. Perhaps the author saw those comments, as here the construct is severely restricted in what it can and can’t do. It’s such a telling thing, that it would make a promise to keep out of the security systems – Murderbot, trying to fit in? Wow. What a journey it’s already been!

As much as I enjoyed the novel, I do think these shorter novellas are just the perfect length, and this is no different. The mysteries are explored, Murderbot has to deal with humans, and there’s a progression on all fronts. And oh, so so much fun along the way!

I guess if you were really determined, you could find a way to get yourself killed by exposing the power connectors … and, I don’t know, licking them or something.

Absolutely recommended, this is just joyful and brilliantly executed. If you already enjoy the series, this one will not disappoint. And if you don’t – just go start with All Systems Red, and don’t dawdle – get them read now! 🙂

NetGalley eARC: 176 pages / 8 chapters
First published: April 2021
Series: The Murderbot Diaries book 6 (although set between books 4 and 5)
Read from 27th-28th April 2021

My rating: 10/10

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