System collapse by Martha Wells

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Another full-length novel in the Murderbot Diaries series and following directly on from the events in Network Effect, will thrill fans who have enjoyed the witty SecUnit who loves to watch entertainment channels and who solves murders. The Barish-Estranza Corporation has sent rescue ships to a planet in peril, but it looks as if the corporation means to enslave the colonists as a work force, regardless of their feelings. The humans from Preservation and ART’s crew want to protect the colony, but something is wrong with Murderbot who must figure it out before the Corporation takes over.

System Collapse continues this award-winning series in style, (Fugitive Telemetry won the 2020 Nebula Award), with Murderbot suffering from trauma from the events in Network effect. Wells describes mental health issues through the eyes of the SecUnit, who is experiencing flashbacks and emotions that often appear with the text reading ‘[redacted].’ There are lighter moments with Murderbot’s signature snarky comments, and the underhand operations of a major corporation are explored, raising ethical questions for the reader.

System Collapse is not a stand-alone read. Readers familiar with the series may want to reacquaint themselves with Network effect before reading this novel and those new to the series would be best to start with the first in the series, All systems red. A fabulous science fiction series!

Themes: Science fiction, Androids, Artificial intelligence, Human-Computer interaction.

Pat Pledger