Book Review: Fugitive Telemetry

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells


(Hey, I don’t want me, either, but I’m stuck with me.)

Murderbot is on Preservation Station, and trying to find a place for itself among the annoying humans. When a dead human is found in one of the alleys, all signs point to Murderbot—until Dr Mensah steps in and gets it assigned to the investigation. Is GrayCris behind the dead human? Or is it something else—something more nefarious?

(I’ve never been on a contract on an uninhabited world because if I was on a planet on a contract then we’d be inhabiting it.)

I always love a little Murderbot in my life, and this was a fascinating insight into its head, particularly with how it’s adjusting to life on Preservation Station—and its role as a rogue-but-not-evil SecUnit.

The start of t his did throw me a little, because I’d assumed this was set after Network Effect, but it actually takes place before it. So just be aware of that.

Eyeing me, Indah said, “How would you dispose of a body so it wouldn’t be found?”
I’m not the public library feed, Senior Officer, go do your own research.

My favorite parts were not the action sequences, but Murderbot’s relationship with Dr. Mensah, and also getting to see it interact with Ratthi and Gurathin (Ratthi’s always focused on Murderbot’s safety and well-being, while Gurathin’s overly practical, “did the thing work though?” hides the fact he cares for Murderbot too). And Pin-Lee and her take-no-crap attitude. They’re definitely a weird little family unit, but they are the best.

It’s so fun how they have pretty much entirely gotten over their initial fear of Murderbot and accepted it not as a pet or less than human, but as a very traumatized and emotionally stunted person who needs space, time and accepting love in order to get through its unrealized hurts—while also realizing that their traumatized and emotionally stunted friend is hell-bent on protecting them with whatever means necessary. Murderbot is exploring its independence, while also realizing there is a social network it can rely upon (it’s not just needed to be paranoid and hyper-protective all the time, even if its ability to interface with everything and murder shit is far superior to the very slow, very frail humans).

I just loved the interactions, and the small moments of Murderbot chilling in Dr. Mensah’s office while she works, and later how it interacts with Indah and the rest of the investigative team—who are understandably nervous about a rogue SecUnit on their station, particularly when Murderbot isn’t exactly a reassuring presence (and why should it be?) and its humor skews scary.

“If I told you, then you might find all the bodies I’ve already disposed of.”
“It’s joking.” Ratthis managed to sound like he completely believed that. “That’s how it looks when it’s joking. He sent me on the feed, Stop joking.

One of things that makes this series special (beyond the highly relatable Murderbot) is the world-building. I love exploring this world, which is made up of the hyper-capitalistic Corporation Rim and the strange world of Preservation Station, which seems both wonderful and fascinating and also incredibly scary because everyone is chill, peaceful, and coexisting. Minus the murderer, of course.

And Preservation Station is also special because of the bots. While Murderbot is kind of an asshole elitist when it comes to interacting with other bots, it was fascinating to see how the bot-human relationship was explored, particularly the Port Authority supervisor bot with its manager. Like a “I’ll protect you most of all because you are my human,” which is ingrained in them and seems strange when viewed through curmudgeony Murderbot’s eyes (stupid bots) until you realize that it is doing the exact same thing with Dr. Mensah.

That plan was easier plus 100 percent less murdery.

I haven’t talked about the plot much at all, because 1) it’s a fairly standard police procedural with the smart-ass outside detective/specialist coming in and 2) I really don’t want to spoil the plot too much? Although…I kinda did. Oops.

Mild spoiler: there is far less media watching than I anticipated.

Anywho, after this one, I am very excited to read about what comes after Network Effect, mainly because I need more ART in my life but also because I want to see Murderbot continuing to develop as a character and as a person. And also because I enjoy vicariously watching The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon through Murderbot’s POV.

All I wanted to do was watch media and not exist.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

Fugitive Telemetry releases April 27, 2021 from Tor.

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