Need a light summer read? Try the Murderbot series

I’ve been reading books that tilt toward the academic, including Proust’s Sodom and Gomorrah, the Fallows’ Our Towns and the Library of America’s The War of 1812: Writings from America’s Second War of Independence. I was ready for something light and entertaining, so when yesterday I heard of Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, I gave the first novella in the series–All Systems Red–a go.

Having played 90 minutes of ice hockey the day before, I was ready to hide from the heat and humidity. That’s just what I did with this novella.

You need not be a science fiction fan to enjoy the first installment, a Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick finalist. The premise is simple and intriguing: what happens when an artificial intelligence-powered security robot goes rogue?

The topic is only going to become more important. I’ve long claimed Battlestar Galactica’s Cylons are among film’s scariest antagonists. So when Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking both urge the immediate cessation of AI-related activities, I feel justified.

Martha Wells takes a fresh and creative angle, however. Her Tor novella series explores the suggestion ‘bots could spawn a conscience, develop binge watching proclivities and simply become lazy.

The plot moves quickly. Freed from unnecessary jargon and excessive world building, the protagonist’s uniqueness and personality proved addictive. So much so I read the book in just a few hours. I look forward to reading Artificial Condition, the second installment.

The series makes for lightweight, entertaining summer reading. Add some shade, maybe a roll of NECCO wafers and a cool beverage, and you’re in business.

UPDATE: The Hugo Awards agree Martha Wells’ book is a winner, having awarded the work its prize as the best novella of 2018.

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