Review: “Exit Strategy” by Martha Wells

ExitStrategy-feat

Release Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Tor.com Publishing
Series: Murderbot Diaries #4
Genre: Science Fiction, Space

Description

“Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it’s caught?” (via Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

ExitStrategy-cover

Wow. Oh wow. I had high hopes for the final book in the Muderbot series…and of course it sailed right past them. As Murderbot confronts the scheming, skeezy GrayCris corporation, they are reunited with the Preservation Auxiliary crew from the first book. Murderbot can save themself or their friends (“friends”?), but the chances of saving both are slim.

Exit Strategy folds in subtext from each novel: Murderbot’s social anxiety in All Systems Red, gender identity and expression in Artificial Condition, and freedom and individualism in Rogue Protocol. In the fourth installment, Murderbot is forced to directly interact with humans not because it  has to but because it wants to. Hell, it learns to want to interact with humans (well, a select few anyway). Part of that is settling into their new human-esque form and everything that entails. Looking like a human is one thing. Acting like one is another. But being treated socially, culturally, and politically like a human – including freedom and ability to make personal choices – is something Murderbot never fathomed was possible for itself. Yet here it is. And it’s fucking terrifying.

You’d think the scary part would be all the fighting and killing rather than chit chatting with friends, but Murderbot’s too skilled for the battle to rattle them. In fact, Murderbot takes each fight almost like a challenge. It’s a chance for them to exercise their considerable skillset in any way they choose. There’s no code or algorithm telling them what to do. They must rely on their own intelligence, sense of self, cunning, experience, and knowledge. It’s the ultimate challenge. And it’s the main way Murderbot gets to be independent.

There’s a freedom in being able to do what you what you want, when you want, but as odd as it sounds, doing security work isn’t all that hard. Murderbot is a SecUnit; security is literally in their name. It’s something they understand and can strategize for. Humans, on the other hand, especially interpersonal relationships, are impossible to plan for. Murderbot can’t control the outcome of an interaction with humans. While a conversation with Mensah isn’t likely to end up with Murderbot dismembered and erased, there is risk involved. No wonder people stress Murderbot out.

Exit Strategy was everything I wanted and more. What a fantastic way to close out the Murderbot novella series! I’m tempted to go back and read the whole kit and kaboodle all the way through again, it’s that enjoyable. Martha Wells, you’ve done it again!

When I got back to HaveRatton Station, a bunch of humans tried to kill me. Considering how much I’d been thinking about killing a bunch of humans, it was only fair.

Ship was on approach and I was waiting impatiently to pick up HaveRatton’s feed. Since Ship was a minimum capacity bot pilot and had all the brains and personality of a heat shield generator, I was also monitoring all its inputs and caught the navigation alert when it came in. (I knew Ship wouldn’t betray me intentionally, but the chance of it doing so unintentionally was resting at a solid 84 percent.)

The alert was from HaveRatton’s Port Authority, and ordered Ship to divert away from its usual slot in the private commercial docks to another section at the end of the public passenger embarkation zone.

I still had the schematic of HaveRatton from when I had boarded Ship here on the way to Milu. I could see that section of the embarkation zone was right next to the PA’s docks, where the deployment point for the station’s security response team was.

Oh, that’s not suspicious at all.

Thanks to Tor.com 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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