Science Fiction Book Reviews

Rogue Protocol, The Murderbot Diaries (Book Review)

Rogue Protocol continues the brilliance of the Murderbot series, adding a third entry that’s equal parts intrigue, horror and interpersonal dilemmas. At the center is this masterfully crafted character that continues to test the definitions of humanity. Every part of this series has been infinitely readable and Rogue Protocol continues in this tradition.

ROGUE PROTOCOL: THE MURDERBOT DIARIES

Martha Wells
Tor.com, August 2018

QUICK SUMMARY

Murderbot continues on a mission to fight the corporation that tried to cover up their crimes. Stowing away on a shuttle, gaining access to a shady facility and taking down the bad guys are all in a day’s work. With every action, justice comes a step closer.

WHY I LOVED IT

SEEKING REVENGE

Rogue Protocol was the most “screw you horrible company that tried to screw over my friends” of the three books. Murderbot is out for revenge, seeking evidence of wrongdoing by the suuuuuuper shady GrayCris. I don’t want to give anything away, but this definitely sets up the fourth book to be a no-holds-barred takedown of literally the worst company mankind could create.

INNOCENT MIKI

I loved Miki the robot. It was a great character, with so much emotion and depth. It really cared about the humans it worked with and just wanted to be a friend. So far in this universe, most of the robots aren’t what I would call ‘friendly.’ Namely, they are intent on killing anything and everything, or they have no personalities and function like appliances. Murderbot is only the way they are because they hacked a module. Miki is different — it was designed this way and had a real connection with its owner. It was allowed to make its own decisions. It was implied this was a different part of space with different rules. I’d be very interested to see how robots are a part of this more accepting community.

A LITTLE HORROR

There were some scary parts in Rogue Protocol and it surprised me in a good way. I was waiting for the jump scares and they were actually there. Artificial Condition seemed like it would be full of horror moments, but they didn’t really happen. This third entry was pretty tense throughout most of the book and it made for an engaging narrative.

TERRAFORMING AS A CONCEPT

I find that terraforming isn’t actually delved into in most sci-fi books. It’s mostly been done by the time characters arrive, with a planet ready-made for living. Wells offers a glimpse of this technology somewhat in action, and it made me realize some things I hadn’t thought about before. For one, it essentially destroys the entire planet. Somehow, I hadn’t put that together. Second, it’s literally creating an atmosphere out of nothing. The station is creating storms to weather the planet, which is so cool to imagine. I don’t know how possible something like that actually is, but it was a fascinating look at what that kind of operation would require.

MURDERBOT’S HUMANITY

With each entry in the series, Murderbot becomes more and more human. There’s still the ambivalence toward the world and the obsession with soap operas but honestly, isn’t that most humans? In this entry, Murderbot tries even harder to help the humans they come in contact with, choosing to help when there are other, smarter solutions. To me, that’s the true sign of their humanity. They’re a brilliant machine that can figure out the optimal solution in an instant, and those are set aside to do the right thing. While that has always been a standard of the series, Murderbot seems less and less reluctant to help those in need. It’s a great pathway to full autonomy and should make for a layered, complex narrative throughout the rest of the series.

CONCEPTS

Robots, Space, Space Travel, Bots, Danger, Crime, Horror, Terraforming

Interested in more books like Rogue Protocol? Check out our book reviews here.

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

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