Artificial Condition by Martha Wells

details
Title: Artificial Condition
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #2
Writer(s): Martha Wells
Publisher: Tor.com / Tom Doherty Associates
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 8th 2018
Pages: 158
Genre(s): Science-Fiction
ISBN13: 9781250186928
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Previously on The Murderbot Diaries:
 All Systems Red

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Ever lived through an existential crisis? To ponder your very existence to the extent of questioning your place in the Universe? To crave for answers that would hopefully pave the way to your happiness? There’s nothing crystal clear in life and everything is a journey cloaked in a perpetual cycle of questions and answers that never truly satisfy us. It’s even more complicated when the answers to your questions require you to revisit your past and walk through a minefield of knowledge that could have serious repercussions on your life.

Artificial Condition follows the events that took place in All Systems Red and further explores our favourite Murderbot’s character. On a quest to find out what truly happened in its past and ultimately led to a reboot of its systems, this highly-capable and former SecUnit runs into an unexpected surprise known as ART. Even if it originally was able to claim its right to free will by hacking its governor module upon its reboot, it will now find itself in front of unfortunate situations where it will be forced to comply for the sake of surviving. And so, as these two entities attempt to understand each other and find reasons to trust each other, a whole new mystery is tossed into the mix and presents this Murderbot the opportunity to embrace the concept of fear.

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What you get in All Systems Red is still present in this sequel but is given an additional layer of complexity. While the ideas of constructs, augmented humans and bots are further distinguished here, a slightly better picture of their subtle differences is highlighted and used to better understand our protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed how Martha Wells puts her character into a position where it has to hide its true nature as a SecUnit in order to pretend to be an augmented human. This offered readers the opportunity to observe all the little details that makes us human through the eyes of an android who finds us all weird on so many levels. How it actually acknowledges and adapts to our flaws is what really makes this character so fascinating and hilarious to follow in its adventures.

Martha Wells also continues to show support to nonbinary people in Artificial Condition by introducing a new character with its own set of pronouns. I’ve never really been a huge advocate of the idea of introducing new pronouns, but I did appreciate how it was handled and how I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. ComfortUnits, a euphemism for Sexbots, were also much more prominent here in order to understand their purpose and capacity, parallel to what we know of SecUnits (constructs) and augmented humans. Having the story continuously boast the pros and cons of each “species” really does give this story a nice edge, an edge that vouches for its originality.

Artificial Condition explores the protagonist’s story even further by putting it on a journey to finding out the truth about its past. Along the way, its encounter with a far more intelligent bot puts it in a peculiar situation where it strives to understand its function, but also its fears. Thus, the methods used by all to deal with their fears is explored discreetly. However, it’s how the author looks into the learning process of every character that makes it all so fascinating. If you were also wondering if there’s any more consumption of television Entertainment by our protagonist, don’t fret. There’s a lot more of that going on in this one too.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Raincoast Books and Tor.com/Tom Doherty Associates for sending me a copy for review!

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54 comments

  • I’m so freaking excited to start this series! I just bought copies of the first two books so I hope I can do a binge read soon. Glad you loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I saw your picture on Twitter with both copies! I hope you enjoy them when you get around to it. The third is coming really soon too! 😀 Thanks for reading, Tammy!

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    • Hahahah you are one of the reasons why I wanted to really pick up this series after all! Thanks for reading, Captain! Lets hope Rogue Protocol is going to blow our minds now. 😀

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  • Lashaan: thanks for another great review – I thought the way you summarized themes was spot on. I’ve read both books and I’m waiting on the third – should be arriving soon. I actually thought Artificial Condition was a better book – much richer. The only complaint I had was the way these are being released – 4 novellas over an 18 month period – all of which serve the same story arc. There’ s a revenue maximization strategy here that’s sensible but punishes the fans a bit. Otherwise, great books. Cheers, Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! And these being novellas makes it quick and easy to get into. Love the covers too. Book 3 and 4 have pretty ones too. The artist has been doing a bunch of covers for Tor books in the past years and I can see why! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ha, there are times when I feel like I suffer existential crisis’s every day so maybe this is a series I should check out myself! 😀
    Great review Lashaan, I remember reading your review for the first book in this collection so I’m really glad you enjoyed the second one as well. It certainly sounds like the author has built on what was written in All Systems Red, and I know I’ve probably said this before but I love the fact that the Murderbot has no gender too. It’s got to make for an interesting reading experience. 🙂
    Again great review, 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahah an introverted android who loves to watch TV series is something A LOT of bookworms can relate to too! 😀

      Thank you so much, Beth! Yep, this Murderbot’s desire to not be associated to any gender is quite intriguing. It actually finds all things related to sex repulsive hahaah

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  • I’m really not sure what you mean by “Martha Wells also pushes her pro-genderless agenda even further in Artificial Condition by introducing another genderless character with its own pronouns. I’ve never really been a huge advocate of the idea”. I’m a nonbinary person who uses neutral pronouns (e/em or they/them) and it’s not an agenda or an idea, it’s how many people identify and live. I’m sure you didn’t mean to be offensive, but this phrasing is very unkind towards people like me.

    I love the Murderbot Diaries so I was originally going to live a gushing comment, but this really jumped out at me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry that you felt offended by that phrasing. It was indeed not meant to be offensive in any way possible. When I say I’m not a huge advocate of the idea, I meant the creation of new pronouns that I’ve never seen before. In this case, pronouns like “ter” and “te” were used for the new nonbinary character. I will however change the term “agenda” as it does seem to suggest something pejorative and put “support”.

      Thank you for taking the time to read this review even if your desire to share your gushing comment about it was suppressed by that statement in my review. Have a wonderful week-end!

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      • Thank you for the response, and I’m glad you decided to change the phrasing. I agree that many new pronouns can be confusing and I sometimes have to double-check the conjugation, but in my opinion, respecting the pronouns people personally feel comfortable with is the least we can do for each other. (I would also argue against using “genderless”, because nonbinary people don’t necessarily lack gender – our gender is just different from man or woman.)

        I agree that I really enjoyed Murderbot pretending to be human, and also interacting with other bots, who acted “more humanly” than we might have expected. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Your feedback is definitely appreciated and will surely leave a lasting impact on my future attempts to mention gender-neutral pronuns and people who nonbinary people. My first encounter of this was in Provenance by Ann Leckie and didn’t even know that it was a thing. I learn every day. 🙂

          I look forward to Rogue Protocol coming out early August! Hope you enjoy it too!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m glad that you are willing to learn and thank you for being receptive about it. I’ve never heard of Provenance but I might check it out!

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  • Oohhh…I love the sound of this. I have always liked stories about robots that seem to question their own existence and are looking for answers to deeper questions like what it means to be human. I also feel this has a bit of a Bladerunner type of atmosphere to it, which is something that I am always interested in. So yeah…you did it again: wonderful review and one that I now of course have to add to my to read list 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • And it being a novella definitely makes it easy for anyone to dive into it and find out what it’s all about! 😀 Oh yes, I do love stories that have a deeper abstraction to them. It just makes for a much more satisfying read. Just like the book that inspired Bladerunner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). Thoroughly enjoyed that one (I don’t think you saw my review for that, did you?). Thanks for the kind words, Michel. I always appreciate hearing your thoughts on everything!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Same here! I can’t imagine where it can possibly go, but I’m sure Martha Wells has a nice surprise for us. “Rogue Protocol” sounds pretty violent to me too. 😛

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    • It’s something that you find in some science fiction novels nowadays. Ann Leckie is an author who does it a lot in her novels. Imagine reading pronouns like “ter”, “tem” and “tey”. 😂 Not easy to adjust to it. The first I saw things like those, I though they were typos LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  • Awesome review!
    I really need to get into this series…
    I’m even flirting with the idea of just abandoning my reading challenge i’m doing. So far it’s less fun and more distraction. Really not what i thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Norrie! Waaah, that sounds terrible. I’ve never been a big fan of those reading challenges that make you pick up various books based on a certain criteria, but man, I wouldn’t recommend forcing yourself to complete something like that! A lil bit of Murderbot inbetween your books could be the perfect solution. 😏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks for the great review! Will recommend this series to my writing partner. Didn’t know these were novellas, these should be a quick read. Maybe in the future, they’ll put them all together. Sometimes an idea starts out as short exploration, then grows outside its confines. Glad to hear a full length novel is coming. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! 😁 Hope your partner likes it! Yep. These are nice ol’ novellas, and yep, I think the author realized how much potential her idea has and much fans love her Murderbot now. A full novel will be a treat!

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  • There’s a SECOND murderbot book?? HOW DID I MISS THIS?! Well, going to have to get on that. I really enjoyed “All Systems Red” I love the idea if things that “shouldn’t have feelings” having an existential crisis. It’s the reason the Scarecrow is my favourite character in “the Wizard of Oz” 😁💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • There’s actually a third one out already now, Rogue Protocol! And yep, you’ll probably have even more fun with the second novella. The author also plans on releasing a full novel after the 4th novella. Plenty of Murderbot to come. 😉 Ouuuh, I think you’re the first person to tell me that your favourite is Scarecrow, but I do love your reason for your love for him! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ooo… I’ll definitely keep an eye out for the rest!! And… WHAAAA A??? No one likes scarecrow?! But he, could “while away the hours, conferring with the flowers, consulting with the rain”
        And he’d “unravel every riddle, for my individdle, in trouble or in pain…”
        Who doesn’t love him?? Silly people. 🙄😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ahhaha it’s really rare, but to be honest, I don’t often hear people point at a particular character, they usually show a more global love for that classic movie! Have you ever tried reading the books? I wonder what Scarecrow is really like there! 😱 Unless those quotes are straight out of the books! 😂

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