Title: Artificial Condition
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #2
Writer(s): Martha Wells
Publisher: Tor.com / Tom Doherty Associates
Release Date: May 8th 2018
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Previously on The Murderbot Diaries:
All Systems Red
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.
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.
Thank you to Raincoast Books and Tor.com/Tom Doherty Associates for sending me a copy for review!