Exit Strategy by Martha Wells fulfills the “Book with a with a robot, cyborg, or AI character” category of the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge. It is the fourth novella in the Murderbot series. The fifth will be published this May. The new one is a full novel rather than the novella format of the first four books. I’m so excited. I can’t even tell you. I want to preorder it on audio, but it’s not an option yet.
In this installment of the Murderbot Diaries, our hero, the reluctant, awkward killing machine, I mean, cyborg plans to end his quest to take down GrayCris for their crimes in the first novella. First, he sends the incriminating material from Book 3, Rogue Protocol, to Dr. Mensah and then, second, he gets out of Dodge. Of course, he can’t resist checking on those original charges from Book 1, All Systems Red. He cares about them but doesn’t understand why. Dr. Mensah is missing! Murderbot must find and save her. Because he loves her like a mom. He doesn’t comprehend love…yet.
Why do I love the Murderbot diaries so much? Welp, the reader for the audio is amazing. So amazing in fact, I bought the third book from Audible even though I already read it. I might listen-through again before May. He brings the cyborg to life. (See what I did there?)
Second, the story is engaging, interesting, and fun. The main character, our own Murderbot (but don’t say his name around because it’s a secret.) is one of the best sci-fi characters I have come across. Ms. Wells created a cyborg designed for the sole purpose of being a commercial bodyguard/soldier and gave him depth and breadth. He has disconnected his governor module, you know, the one that makes him a complicit robot with no will of his own and hacked it to watch videos. He didn’t free himself to murder indiscriminately, or take down the human race, or even run off to an independent, new life. Nope, he wanted to watch soap operas in peace.
Third, in the fourth book, the author used Murderbot’s lack-of-humanity to cause trouble. He’s a good guy, tries to save his clients, do the right thing, all the while seeming selfish and indifferent. But he doesn’t understand many human complexities—emotions, intentions, manipulations. He thinks going to the Milu terraforming facility will help the cause. Instead, because he’s technically Dr. Mensah’s property, it appears as if she sent him to spy. Trouble ensues. He learns, and spoiler, he saves the day.
If you are a fan of funny sci-fi, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Trilogy (that has six books), Harry Harrison’s Bill the Galactic Hero stories, or John Scalzi’s Red Shirts, this series is for you. I recommend it outright, but if you can get the audio…
I give Exit Strategy by Martha Wells Five Space Operas.