Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells

Read October 2018
Recommended for fans of Murderbot, AIs
★    ★   ★    ★    

“Or Miki was a bot who had never been abused or lied to or treated with anything but indulgent kindness. It really thought its humans were its friends, because that’s how they treated it.
I signaled Miki I would be withdrawing for one minute. I needed to have an emotion in private.”

Murderbot returns for a third and autumnal installment. ‘Bot is a little more experienced, but honestly is making some familiar mistakes. As we all do, really, but I guess I expect more from a heartless killing machine. In this installment, ‘Bot is heading to a “terraforming” installation abandoned by the corporation GrayCris, hoping to find data for the fight between GrayCris and Dr. Mensah. Unfortunately, it means integrating itself into an exploration team that already includes an A.I.:

“When I called it a pet robot, I honestly thought I was exaggerating. This was going to be even more annoying than I had anticipated, and I had anticipated a pretty high level of annoyance, maybe as high as 85 percent. Now I was looking at 90 percent, possibly 95 percent.”

I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that it covered much new ground. The situation gave Murderbot insight into another kind of AI-human relationship, but plotting felt fairly familiar. I’m still not convinced of ‘Bot’s logic circuits (mild mid-plot spoiler: (view spoiler) even when limited to security concerns, but do think ‘Bot is a much better A.I. than other characterizations (thinking of Sea of Rust here). I also felt questions raised about the amount of processing ‘Bot was doing at certain points. All that said, I really enjoyed it, and it held up to a second read quite well.

Wells always manages to tap me in the feels along with engaging the brain-pan. She’s good like that. I’m glad she’s finally getting some long-overdue popular recognition (as opposed to her early Hugo-Neb nominated works), because I’d like to see her financially secure enough to keep dreaming up worlds.

If you like ‘Bot and bots, you may also enjoy A Closed and Common Orbit (it really does stand alone), another A.I. book. If you think you enjoy Wells, I highly encourage you to give her other books a try, except she’s a tricky one, and many of her books are very, very different from one another from the vaguely neo-Edwardian England The Death of the Necromancer to the matriarchal fantasy world of the Raksura. Find one that appeals and go with that.




About thebookgator

avid reader and Goodreads reviewer looking for a home.
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