Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries, #5)Network Effect by Martha Wells
My rating: 5/5 cats
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murderbot for president of everything.

i read my first murderbot this year, way back in april, and now—six books and two short stories later, i cannot remember what life was like before murderbot stomped into my readerheart. it sounds stupid, but i feel positively enriched by these books and i don’t know what i will do if she ever decides to stop writing this series.

this is the longest and most satisfying murderbot book, and i’m already looking forward to rereading it. because here’s the thing—as much as i love murderbot—how they think, how they fight AND THE FRIENDS THEY MAKE ALONG THE WAY, i get lost sometimes in the sci-fi of it all. and it’s no fault of the author—her writing is excellent, she does all the world-building work, and the SF elements are not even that complicated; it is hundo-percent me and my inability to really visualize things i’ve never seen, and once you throw any kind of technology in there, i’m a goner.

there are a million ships and transports (but only one that matters ♥), and fuck me if i know the difference between pathfinders and shuttles and explorers, or even what their relative dimensions would be. and then there’s the various weapons and drones, implants and alien remnants, malware and feeds and wormholes and i’m over here still struggling with how gravity works. additionally, there are several crews’ worth of humans (returning and brand-new characters), altered memories and complicated timelines and political pissing contests and all sorts of technical shit that makes my mind’s eye recoil with incomprehension.

even more than in previous murderbots, i had a hard time keeping everything straight, and i had to reread passages frequently, which is not something that happens to me with any other kind of book. for example, i am right now reading Moon Witch, Spider King, which has like 4 whole pages of characters listed before the book starts, and although i’m not very far in, if it’s anything like the first book in the trilogy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, which was convoluted and character-heavy AF, i know i’m gonna be fine.

it’s just outer space that gives me trouble. well, and lovecraft, because he doesn’t even try to describe things, he just throws up his hands and bleats “ineffable” and we’re supposed to be satisfied with that.

like i said, it’s probably just me and my dumb brain, but just opening to a random page:

I’ve considered constructing a killware assault, but the data I managed to retain from targetControlSystem suggests it would be ineffective…Both Ratthi and Overse have theorized that some elements of the Target’s Pre-Corporation Rim technology—for example, the implants—may be acting as receivers for esoteric alien remnant tech, like the object that affected my drive. A standard killware assault on the Pre-CR systems would not be able to take into account the alien system, not unless it was variable and could alter its behavior based on the protections and obstructions is encounters. I can’t code that with the resources I have available.

It was talking about something similar to the self-aware virus that GrayCris and Palisade Security had deployed against the company gunship, where I’d crashed myself and nearly wrecked my memory archive helping the bot pilot fight it off.

that all sounds like BEEP BOOP BOOP rattling around in my brain and it takes me awhile to sift through paragraphs like that to make any sense of it.

[savvy readers will note that ellipsis—i have omitted six words because i’m choosing to keep mum on something that other reviewers have shared freely (and it’s not a spoiler at all so don’t be one of those spoiler-scolders everyone hates), but i’m choosing silence because when murderbot’s penny dropped (triggering my own one-cent tumble*), my jaw dropped. it DROPPED.

and i want other readers to have that experience.

two words: peri 4-eva.]

so, yeah, i’m too dumb for a lot of this world’s details.

but, oh, the rest of it. murderbot’s growth as an independent person, their cranky observations about human behavior (and biology), their stunned reaction to any kindness, their discomfort with their feels, their knack for getting out of tricky situations, and the reluctant burden of acquiring allies and even (saying it quickly to lessen m-bot’s squeamishness) lovedones.

it’s funny and touching and FULL of sulking. murderbot-as-mentor is glorious, and the ending opens up so many possibilities for future adventures that i cannot wait to read.

as long as mensah and murderbot keep in touch.

She smiled a little. “The good thing is, you do know what you want.”

I sort of did know. It was a weird feeling. “That’s new.”

She smiled all the way. “I wasn’t going to put it quite that way, but yes.”

i’m not sure if the unwritten-but-commissioned murderbot books are going to be novellas or full-length novels like this one, but either way, i am OVER THE MOON excited to go wherever martha wells sends murderbot next.

*you know who gives one-cent tumbles? GM!



i will be sad once i finish this and realize i will have to WAIT for more murderbots to be published, instead of just grabbing one from my shelves whenever i feel the need for a MURDERBOT FIX.

review to come but YESSSSSSSSSSS

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