Artificial Condition is the second volume in Martha Wells’ science-fiction, artificial intelligence novella series, Murderbot Diaries. After undergoing a bookish hangover upon finishing Corey J. White’s the Voidwitch Saga, I needed another sci-fi novella to help alleviate the hunger I was left with. Since I really enjoyed the Murderbot Diaries first instalment, I knew it was time to catch-up with the rest of the books in the series thus far.
Artificial Intelligence follows the main character, Murderbot, as it goes on an unauthorised journey to fill in the blanks from the memory deletions it underwent due to events mentioned in the first book.
If I could only say one thing to sum up my feelings for Artificial Intelligence, it would have to be that this book was much better than its precursor, which was pretty amazing to begin with. From the world-building to Murderbot’s delightful personality to the technicities that make it feel fulfilling such as the superb writing—it’s all wonderful.
The absolute best trait in the series is Murderbot itself. While it’s an android, the exploration of a robot taking on distinctly human qualities is spectacular. It has emotions. Even though the spectrum of those emotions and its ability to convey them via facial expressions are limited, the parts that are portrayed, either physically or from narration via inner monologue, is colourful and so brilliantly genuine. As a person who is quite sarcastic with dry humour, anti-social tendencies, and a small intolerance for idiots, I laughed and related so much to Murderbot’s dialogue and exchanges with other people.
The characteristics I mentioned were actually introduced in the opening volume. But they are further expounded upon here with Murderbot taking on new clients and having new social experiences that it didn’t have before, one of them including the sentient AI (artificial intelligence) for a research ship. Murderbot’s understanding and unusual cooperative mingling between everyone is endearing and supremely entertaining. It leads to one of the best gender neutral bromances ever.
Additionally, plot progression and overall pacing is comfortable and delightfully easy to follow. It was quite calm and relaxing to fall into the book and blow through the pages one right after another. The action sequences in the novel are portrayed in a matter-of-fact means that further complements Murderbot’s fundamentally apathetic demeanour, while enhancing the atmosphere surrounding the scenes involving the action or fighting.
There’s only one shortcoming in the novel, and it’s entirely a personal one: I wish that Muderbot’s new bromance buddy had more screen-time, or page-time so to speak, and would become a permanent part of Murderbot’s life. I just cannot express via words how pleasant I found their budding friendship.
Overall, if you have read All Systems Red and felt it was a good, complete reading experience (like I had initially felt) and are unsure about continuing with the series, I highly recommend you do so because it gets better. If you have heard of the series and appreciate science-fiction but haven’t picked up the series for whatever reason thus far, I would ask you to consider bumping it on your TBR (to-be-read) list. It is lovely in almost every way.
4.75 sex-bots outta 5!