Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
In this new episode of The Continued Adventures of Murderbot: Snark! Lots of media downloaded and consumed! Another group of pesky humans in need of saving! More snark! ENEMIES! MYSTERY! UNEXPECTED EMOTIONS! And a new robot pal.
If you aren’t caught up yet with this series of novellas, Rogue Protocol is the third entry, following Artificial Condition and All Systems Red. It stars Murderbot, a self-hacked SecUnit whose main protocol was taking care of the human client it has been tasked to protect until it became a self-governing unit on the run from the Evil Corporation that it’s trying to bring down.
The thing is, Murderbot can’t help but save any humans in danger it comes into contact with. It is guided mostly by a somewhat uncontrollable and misguided sense of “why are humans so stupid I need to save their sorry asses over and over,” a sense that is still present in Rogue Protocol.
Still investigating the crimes of The Company, Murderbot takes over another Ship and travels far away to check out a seemingly abandoned facility, but when it gets there it finds not only a group of hapless humans but also a humanoid android called Miki (whom it becomes kinda of friends with? Against its own will?) and an undisclosed number of adversaries, some of them human, some of them not.
Rogue Protocol is perhaps the most suspenseful of the novellas so far, with an amped up sense of danger and incredible action sequences as Murderbot travels through the underground, facing off with enemies it can barely see. I was biting my nails reading this, nervously expecting Bad Things to happen. Perhaps a good comparison to this entry would be something like the Alien franchise in terms of visuals and tension.
What I like the most here though, is that in Martha Wells’ deft hands, the adventure, the thrills, the action sequences never ever detract from the emotional punch of Murderbot developing feelings for humans – and Miki. When they come, when those emotions and feelings become a reality, it’s like being punched in the gut but in a good way.
Add to that the ongoing mysteries surrounding the Evil Company as well as Murderbot’s relationship with the characters from the first book and the series has a really nice arc that is becoming clearer and clearer with each new installment.
“I hate caring about stuff. But apparently, once you start, you can't just stop.”
I know I can’t stop caring about Murderbot.
In Booksmugglerish: 8 out of 10.