It’s about being treated as a thing, isn’t it. Whether that thing is a hostage of conditional value, or a very expensively designed and equipped enslaved machine/organic intelligence. You’re a thing, and there is no safety.
this l’il shorty follows the events of book 4, and spins the POV away from murderbot’s narrative voice into a close third POV of dr. mensah, recently rescued by murderbot and dealing (or not dealing) with the resulting PTSD of that situation.
what’s great about this is seeing murderbot through a human’s eyes and realizing that a lot of its self-assessments in terms of its awkwardness are inaccurate, and the way these two traumatized characters care for each other is such a balm in a world where terrible things keep happening.
i know murderbot is ace AF, but their requisition forms for “increasingly improbable armaments” seem flirty to me in a way that is very sweet, despite all the spikes and guns involved. i’m not sure what the platonic version of flirtation is called, but whatever their relationship is, it’s mutual, and they certainly understand and respect each other in a very specific and lovely way.
SecUnit is looking down at her. “You can hug me if you need to.”
“No. No, that’s all right. I know you don’t care for it.” She wipes her face. There are tears in her eyes, because she’s an idiot.
“It’s not terrible.” She can hear the irony under its even tone.
“Nevertheless.” She can’t do this. She can’t lean on a being that doesn’t want to be leaned on. Of all the things SecUnit needs, the only ones she can give it are room and time in a relatively safe space to make decisions for itself. Becoming a prop for her failing emotional stability won’t do either one of them any good.
i’m going to try to ration my remaining murderbot books because i’m blowing through them so quickly that i haven’t even reviewed the last two yet. i hadn’t meant to read book four so closely on the heels of book three, but i really wanted to read this story as my free tor shorty of the week, so i had to catch up to it, you know? if there’s a murderbot version of the marshmallow test, i’m failing it, but of all my numerous failures, it’s been the most enjoyable.
read it for yourself here (if you’ve read books 1-4):