Review: “Rogue Protocol” by Martha Wells


Release Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Publishing
Series: Murderbot Diaries #3
Genre: Science Fiction, Space


SciFi’s favorite crabby A.I. is again on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is.

And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.” (via Goodreads)


My Thoughts


Murderbot has a plan. It’s not the best plan, but it’s the only one they’ve got. Although they left Dr. Mensah because they didn’t want to be a “pet” SecUnit, they still care about Mensah in their own weird way. So when the heat starts coming down on the first human who ever treated Murderbot decently, Murderbot decides to do something about it. Even when that something means breaking into a secure GrayCris facility to expose sinister company secrets. Murderbot’s first mistake is thinking this’ll be just like the last time when faked being a security consultant to aid a group of underprepared humans while simultaneously raiding hard drives holding the truth about Murderbot’s past. Things go bad very quickly, and Murderbot will have to rely less on their newly acquired human adaptations and more on their old SecUnit skills if they want to get out alive.

Complicating matters is the bot Miki and the humans who treat it like family. Is that something Murderbot wants? To feel close to someone, to be respected and cared for? Murderbot has spent this entire series thus far trying to break free, but they haven’t spent much thinking about what that freedom might look like. Mensah’s offer was simply trading one master for another. ART granted them the ability to pass for human, which helps them maneuver in a human-dominated world, but didn’t get Murderbot any closer to making it out of the Corporate Rim. But Miki shows Murderbot that there’s a third option between flight and fight: friendship.

Rogue Protocol, like the rest of the series, is lush with dark humor and deep emotion. Murderbot may not want to be a hero or even think of themselves as one, but everytime they go out of their way to protect one of those silly, soft humans they prove there’s more to themselves them just a rogue SecUnit. Between the well-paced action, the introspective first person narration, and the compelling character development, Rogue Protocol easily meets the high water mark set by All Systems Red and Artificial Condition. I cannot tell you how excited I am that we’re getting a full-length Murderbot novel after the Exit Strategy closes out the novella series. CAN. NOT. WAIT.

A SecUnit’s job is to protect its clients from anything that wants to kill or hurt them, and to gently discourage them from killing, maiming, etc., each other. The reason why they were trying to kill, maim, etc., each other wasn’t the SecUnit’s problem, it was for the humans’ supervisor to deal with. (Or to willfully ignore until the whole project devolved into a giant clusterfuck and your SecUnit prayed for the sweet relief of a massive accidental explosive decompression, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.)

But here on this transport, there was no supervisor, just me. And I knew where they were going, and they knew where they were going, even if they were pretending all their anger and frustration was caused by Vinigo or Eva taking an extra simulated fruit pac. So I listened to them a lot and pretended to be launching major investigations into incidents like who left a cracker wrapper in the galley restroom sink.

They were heading to a labor installation on some shitshow world. Ayres told me they had all sold their personal labor for a twenty-year hitch, with a big payout at the end. He was aware it was a terrible deal, but it was better than their other options. The labor contract included shelter, but charged a percentage for everything else, like food consumed, energy use, and any medical care, including preventative.

(I know. Ratthi had said using constructs was slavery but at least I hadn’t had to pay the company for my repair, maintenance, ammo, and armor. Of course, nobody had asked me if I wanted to be a SecUnit, but that’s a whole different metaphor.)

(Note to self: look up definition of metaphor.)

I had asked Ayres if the twenty years was measured by the planetary calendar or the proprietary calendar of the corporation who maintained the planet, or the Corporation Rim Recommended Standard, or what? He didn’t know, and hadn’t understood why it mattered.

Yeah, that was why I was trying not to get attached to any of them.

Thanks to Publishing for sending me a review copy.

Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or get it from your public library.

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