Artificial Condition is the second novella in the sci-fi series The Murderbot Diaries. I really liked the first book, All Systems Red, and I loved this one even more.
I think this series is an underrated gem. It’s about what it means to be (or not to be) human, it’s diverse, there’s no romance, it has trans-inclusive worldbuilding (a non-binary character who uses te/ter pronouns is introduced in this book; there are mentions of space societies with more than two genders), and it avoids or subverts many tropes common in tired AI narratives.
But what makes me truly love this series is the humor – these books are hilarious.
The narration is what makes this series worth reading. It’s about a SecUnit – a security bot who calls itself Murderbot – who is now pretending to be human to discover more about its past, but it has anxiety. An anxious, shy, murderous bot. I love it.
The human characters are never really developed in this series – the way many AI characters usually aren’t that developed in series from the humans’ PoV; it makes sense to me. Murderbot also tries its best not to get attached to humans (and fails. Oh, the denial). But Murderbot is a very well-rounded characters, and in Artificial Condition another AI is introduced, one who is, basically, a Rude Spaceship. Murderbot named it ART, which stands for asshole research transport, and I can say that a) as a name, it’s perfect and b) I loved the Rude Spaceship a lot.
The only thing I didn’t completely love was the worldbuilding: it’s very vague and I would have liked more details and less names thrown around, but it’s a novella and I don’t have a problem when some aspects of a novella are less developed to give space to the actual story. And since the story is great, I don’t have anything against this choice.
I can’t wait to get more of this.
My rating: ★★★★¾