Review: Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries #6) by Martha Wells

Rating: 9.5/10

Synopsis

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!

Review

You all heard that right: It’s a Murderbot Murder Mystery! Your favorite human-hating android is back with a brand-new mission: find the killer. And I have to say that author Martha Wells proves her genius over and over again by putting Murderbot into different types of situations and scenarios and demands that it find a way out.

And now I was literally standing over a dead human.


Fugitive Telemetry really sets itself apart from the rest of the franchise in that it is more brain than braun. The first five Murderbot books (those reviews can be found here and here), while they allowed Murderbot to show off its intellect at times, focused much more on its ability to overpower opponents, be they human, bot, or android. But the plot of Fugitive Telemetry requires a much more pensive approach. As Murderbot plays detective, the reader gets treated to a story that warrants (see what I did there) the protagonist interact with humans more than ever before. And, honestly, those interactions have not changed all that much.

I know a ‘fuck off’ when I hear one. So, I fucked off.

It is almost as if Murderbot would be better off solving this mystery without the help of the human security team to which it is assigned. At least that is what Murderbot thinks. I would expect nothing less, though, and that is one of the things I love about this book: it plays to Murderbot’s strengths, but in an entirely different way than the previous stories, and it is nice to get a new perspective.

Humans touch stuff all the time, I wish they wouldn’t.

I would be remiss if I did not point out the droid-to-bot interaction, which is one aspect of this book that remains unchanged. As I have mentioned before, this might be my favorite aspect of this series: the way Murderbot connects with other electronic-based entities. It communicates with them to ask for help, or to help them when they are in need and often hacks into their systems without permission. Whatever it takes to get the job done.

The PA bot came over and stood next to me. I wondered if it did anything that wasn’t related to standing around.

Chill, Murderbot. Not every being is as sophisticated as you.

I have written at-length about the very deliberate world-building, and how I love the way Wells give us more micro than macro. That does not change with Fugitive Telemetry, except this time it is not a far-away planet in another system that is being explored; this time it is Preservation Station, the place Murderbot currently calls home. The effects of this are huge for Muderbot because we are not talking about a crew of a ship or people on another planet that it will never see again. These are humans and bots that it will cross paths with in the future, and that forces it to make choices which reflect that fact (not that it really cares, but these decisions do have some bearing on how Murderbot is viewed by its peers).

I’d already agreed not to hacking their systems, what the fuck else could they want?

Clearly, this storyline brings out Murderbot’s saltiest language, as well, which I find to be rather entertaining.

The one thing I could not get over in this book is that I still have not figured out the timeline. The way this story shakes out is quite surprising given the way the previous book, Network Effect, ended. Some of Murderbot’s internal dialogue almost makes me think this book takes place between books 4 and 5, but I cannot be sure. Maybe I just missed the context that points it out. And I miss ART, already.

Looking at this book from a top-down view, the fact that Murderbot was written into a very different kind of story reveals the true value the reader gains from this book: the fact that the world has opened up, and who knows where Murderbot goes or what it does next.

If I told you, then you might find all the bodies I’ve already disposed of.

There it goes, again. Classing up the joint.

Fugitive Telemetry is a phenomenal read. If Network Effect‘s tagline was “Murderbot: Now with More Murderbot”, then Fugitive Telemetry‘s would be “Murderbot: Now with More Murder” (and I think I have made it pretty clear why I am not an author). I cannot get enough Murderbot, and I love how it continues to redefine itself while sticking with what works. I am excited to see where Murderbot’s travels take it to next.

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