The Murderbot Diaries

Four cover artworks for Martha Wells novellas: All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy

Award-Winning Novellas by Martha Wells

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All Systems Red, Tor.com, 2017, Nebula Award Winner for Best Novella, ALA/YALSA Alex Award Winner, Locus Award Winner for Best Novella, Hugo Award Winner for Best Novella, Philip K. Dick Award Finalist, New York Times Bestseller for Audio

Artificial Condition, Tor.com, 2018, Hugo Award Winner for Best Novella, Nebula Award Finalist for Best Novella, USA Today Bestseller, Locus Award Winner for Best Novella

Rogue Protocol, Tor.com, 2018, Locus Award Finalist

Exit Strategy, Tor.com, 2018, British Science Fiction Association Finalist for Short Fiction

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I originally heard about The Murderbot Diaries on Twitter, but never thought anything of it until I signed up for the Tor newsletter and received them as free ebooks. Tor was promoting the first Murderbot novel by offering the novellas to their readers. Even then, I didn’t actually read them.

While I love science fiction, I confess that I don’t read much of it. I’m very picky about what I read, and 99% of the books I choose are pure fantasy. It wasn’t until my library showed them as available audiobooks on their app Libby (when I was actively looking for something new to listen to) that I decided to give them a try.

I can honestly say that I did myself a huge disservice by not reading these novellas sooner.

I devoured the first novella, All Systems Red, and immediately requested the others from my library. Three hours later I’d finished the second, Artificial Condition. The library didn’t have the next two novellas available yet, so I bought those through Audible. I went straight to Rogue Protocol. Finally, I listened to Exit Strategy the same day.

I requested the novel NETWORK EFFECT from my library immediately afterward (at the time of this review I am in the middle of reading it for the second time – it’s that good!) and am pleased to know there is another novella, Fugitive Telemetry, due to be released in April of 2021.

As you can see, I can’t get enough of Murderbot.

Not only is the series unique, well-written, and engaging, but it’s funny, too. Murderbot has a wry sense of humor that matches my own – it’s sarcastic. It’s also blatantly honest in its own thoughts, showing its discomfort among humans among its other flaws. Because Murderbot is deeply flawed, both as a human/robot hybrid built and programmed to follow orders, and as a main character. 

Murderbot is a SecUnit contracted for security, which consists of monitoring communications, patrolling locations, keeping humans from killing themselves or one another, and other boring tasks. It prefers to watch hours of downloaded serials and avoid any direct conversation with the humans it works for. While it does indeed have feelings, it absolutely never wants to discuss those emotions, and certainly not with humans. It’s internal thoughts are endearing as it navigates a galaxy filled with humanity, corporate greed, and dangerous alien lifeforms.

The one thing that surprised me most about the series was how well each story arc ended while still continuing seamlessly throughout the novellas. It was deeply fulfilling to read all four novellas in a row, on the same day. If you have the opportunity, I encourage doing so.

As I mentioned earlier, I first received these novellas via a free downloads offered from Tor’s newsletter. You can sign up here.

I also mentioned that instead of actually reading these novellas, I chose to listen to them via audiobook through my library and Audible. They are all narrated by the talented Kevin R. Free, who brings Murderbot to life. I highly recommend checking them out.

Audiobook cover art for All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, and Exit Strategy

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However you choose to enjoy The Murderbot Diaries, I’m positive you will enjoy them.

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