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review 2020-05-25 14:19
'Network Effect - Murderbot Diaries #5' by Martha Wells
Network Effect - Martha Wells,Kevin R. Free

Finally, Murderbot gets the full-length novel that it and we deserve. Thank you, Martha Wells. I've loved the other episodes in the Murderbot Diaries but I was a little frustrated at having them drip-fed to me in what seemed to me to be a novel broken into novellas for no good reason.


I preordered the audiobook version of 'Network Effect' and dived into it as soon as it arrived in my audiobook queue. After four hours of immersion in Murderbot's world, this was my reaction:

This is a wonderful ride. MurderBot remains its compelling self but being freed from the novella format means that the plot structure is more complicated and the puzzle that needs to be solved has more twists in it.


Reading 'Network Effect' is like falling through a cascade of action sequences while working on a big picture to make sense of everything. There's never a dull moment and it took some self-control for me to do anything else today.'

I managed to pace myself and consumed the book over three days rather than one. The mystery continued to become more complex and the actions scenes continued to pile on and they were all fun and very well done but what I liked most about the book was the way in which Murderbot developed.


Murderbot isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become, human. Humans are messy and often reckless, shouldn't be trusted with weapons, are inappropriately optimistic for creatures that are both fragile and slow. Nevertheless, Murderbot is attached to its humans pretty much in the way you or I might be attached to our Labradors.


So, if Murderbot is going to continue to associate with humans and commit itself to protecting some of them, but isn't, doesn't want to be and can't become human, how does it develop to become more than a SecUnit that's hacked its governor unit so it can spend more time watching TV?


Martha Wells' answer to that is inspired.



Firstly she lets Murderbot itself slowly figure out that that is a question that deserves to be answered. Then she builds a plot that brings Murderbot back into contact with ART, the sarcastic, extremely bright, apparently working on covert missions transport ship that sheltered Murderbot earlier. Except this time Murderbot has to rescue both ART and ART's humans. Seeing the relationship between ART and its humans gives Murderbot a lot to think about. Creating a 2.0 copy of himself, for reasons I won't share here, and using his memories to persuade another SecUnit to hack its own governor unit, again help Murdrbot to reflect on its identity.



Then the Network Effect kicks in: we have multiple non-human intelligences connected to each other making Murderbot's situation less unique while making his value higher and pushing him to define who he is and what he wants to do next.

(spoiler show)


It's beautifully done. I had an exciting ride, a lot of action, good mystery and I got to watch Murderbot grow up.


I'll be back for more as soon as it's available.


I think the audiobook is quite well done, it even manages not to make Murderbot sound definitively male or female. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-05-11 09:20
Network Effects by Martha Wells
Network Effect - Martha Wells

TITLE:  Network Effects


AUTHOR:  Martha Wells


SERIES:  Murderbot Diaries #5



"Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

You know that feeling when you’re at work, and you’ve had enough of people, and then the boss walks in with yet another job that needs to be done right this second or the world will end, but all you want to do is go home and binge your favorite shows? And you're a sentient murder machine programmed for destruction? Congratulations, you're Murderbot.

Come for the pew-pew space battles, stay for the most relatable A.I. you’ll read this century.

I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

When Murderbot's human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.





******************POSSIBLE SPOILERS***********************************



A brilliant, full-length, action packed addition to the Murderbot diaries.  ART (aka Asshole Research Transport) makes an appearance, Murderbot blackmails Dr Mensah (!!), there is a Murderbot 2.0 (this part was delightful), there is also a "Murderbot" 3 (sort of) and the hazards of fiddling around with alien technology.  Network Effects was something enjoyable and absorbing to read when the world is quite cheerfully going to hell.



NOTE:  It helps (and would probably be more enjoyable) if you have read the previous 4 novellas, but isn't entirely necessary. 

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review 2020-05-07 21:02
All Systems Red, Murderbot #1 by Martha Wells
All Systems Red - Martha Wells

After reading 'Network Effect' it was only a matter of time before I broke down and read the novellas.


These are amazing, I can see why Tor has been able to market these as separate hardcover editions for so long.


Murderbot, for those who don't know, is a SecUnit - a robot with organic components designed to protect people and eliminate threats as brutally and quickly as possible. Murderbot has been able to override his governing unit, the fail-safe that keeps robots in line and prevents them from escaping and/or murdering their owners. Instead of immediately going rogue and killing all humans, Murderbot discovers media.


I love the idea that a.i. would be as entranced with sitcoms and telenovellas as we are.


The novella is short and covers Murderbots experience with a survey team on an uninhabited planet. Malfunctions and accidents are piling up and suspicions are beginning to rise: there's a secret on this planet that somebody is willing to kill to protect. In order to keep the survey team safe Murderbot has to help them figure out what's going on and perhaps open up a little to the possibility of connecting on a personal level with humanity.


Murderbot Diaries


Next: 'Artificial Condition'

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review 2020-05-02 20:07
Network Effect, Murderbot Diaries #5 by Martha Wells
Network Effect - Martha Wells

This was an absolute delight. I know I'm behind the curve, the Murderbot Diaries have been enthralling readers since 2017, but I'd never picked one up until this arc crossed my path.


Set far in the future or else in a galaxy far, far away, our hero is Murderbot, a SecUnit (security unit) who has hacked his software so that he's free to make it's own choices. It's personality is often caustic, it's humor black, and is really good at it's job. Humanity is spread across the galaxy making use of wormhole technology and divided into many corporate and republic entities. This is the fifth entry in the series, but I had no trouble following. The author made every effort to make this book a true standalone without being heavy-handed with the exposition. There are a lot of terms and characters that make themselves known at a good pace.


I'm hoping a print edition comes out soon collecting the novellas. 'Network Effect' had a terrific plot and great characters. It was sufficiently unrealistic media.


Murderbot Diaries


Next: '?'


Previous: 'Exit Strategy'

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review 2020-01-02 04:14
Network Effect - Murderbot Diaries #5
Network Effect - Martha Wells

What can I say about Murderbot that hasn’t been said already? This series is quite possibly one of the best things being published in the science fiction genre right now. Who would have guessed that a Murderbot would be one of the most relatable and human characters I’ve read in years? This is good crunchy sci-fi except it also has lots of heart and humor.


I don't want to give anything away so I'll be very brief. This is the content you've come to expect and love from the novellas, except more of it. There are some old friends and some new. Plenty of problems interfering with Murderbot's Sanctuary Moon viewing agenda, and even some juicy character growth. Word to the wise: this builds on the novellas, so don't start here. This isn't a standalone - this is book five in a series. And if you're not already reading Murderbot then you should remedy that immediately. And if you are, well, you are in for a treat this May.

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