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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel | Thoughts

   Published : 2021   ||    Format : print   ||    Location : Colombia ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆   What was it about the country that kept everyone hostage to its fantasy? The previous month, on its own soil, an American man went to his job at a plant and gunned down fourteen coworkers, and last spring alone there were four different school shootings. A nation at war with itself, yet people still spoke of it as some kind of paradise.. Thoughts : Infinite Country follows two characters - young Talia, who at the beginning of this book, escapes a girl’s reform school in North Colombia so that she can make her previously booked flight to the US. Before she can do that, she needs to travel many miles to reach her father and get her ticket to the rest of her family. As we follow Talia’s treacherous journey south, we learn about how she ended up in the reform school in the first place and why half her family resides in the US. Infinite Country tells the story of her family through the other protagonist, El

All Systems Red and Artificial Condition by Martha Wells | Thoughts

     Published on: 2017 & 2018   ||   Format: ebook   ||   Location: Space

One line review: When a planetary mission goes wrong, it is up to an android to come up with a way to rescue its clients, even it rescue appears very difficult.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


I am not a combat murderbot, I’m Security. I keep things from attacking the clients and try to gently discourage the clients from attacking each other.


I had been hearing a lot of good things about the Murderbot series by Martha Wells, and when I tried to look up these books in my library website, the waiting lists were at least one month long, so by the time I had a copy available to read, my expectations were sky-high. Currently, the Murderbot series contains 5 novels (with the sixth coming later this month) and 2 novellas. Of these, the fifth book, Network Effect starts a new storyline while the first four novels are part of the same story arc. As of right now, I have read the first novella (Compulsory) and the first two novels in the series (All Systems Red and Artificial Condition). 

Our nameless SecBot, who calls itself Murderbot, is an android that has been contracted out to a client to assist them during a planetary mission. Typically, SecBots are connected to a hub and programmed to follow instructions from the governor module but this particular SecBot had hacked its module and is therefore self-aware. That said, it doesn't let anyone know that and continues to pretend as if everything is normal. On the planet where the client is to conduct tests, there are two other clients also conducting their own tests. Things get weird, when suddenly one day, Murderbot's client is unable to contact one of the other two clients. Suspecting the worst, they decide to investigate - a decision that tests everyone's relationship with the Murderbot and may potentially expose it as sentient.

Let me start with all the caveats. There is a lot of hype here - I don't think I've come across anyone yet who didn't like this series. For me, the first book was good, but it was the second that hit it out of the park. There is a lot of technobabble in this book, plus the author puts you in the thick of action right from the beginning, so you aren't really starting with a glossary of terms which I always wish I had when I read books set in universes different from ours. So it took me a while to orient myself around the book's lingo. Plus, all the time I was reading this book, I kept feeling that things were too obvious and expected something to happen to prove me right, but no, for once, the path taken was the obvious one. 

Despite those oddities, there is a lot in here that I loved. Murderbot makes for a very interesting protagonist to spend time with. SecBots are not humans (not even considered augmented). They have central hubs controlling their every action and they can also be easily instructed to commit murder (which has happened). Murderbot however is pretty smart - without anything controlling its day-to-day actions, it is able to decide how to spend its "free" time. And what it does is actually funny - it loves watching entertainment shows. This little detail is something that is explored in detail in the second book as well.

Artificial Condition picks up where All Systems Red ends. I won't go into a whole lot here because it means spoilers for All Systems Red but this book pivoted nicely into how SecBots and other bots communicate - something I had been very curious about while reading All Systems Red. Whatever minor issue I had with book one dissipated when I started reading book 2. To me, this is the winner so far. Interestingly, we spend most of the time here with bots and not many humans. 

If you typically enjoy science fiction, you may like this book. The first four novels are all short (~150-odd pages) but the fifth one starts a new trend - it's even longer (300+ pages). I'm looking forward to reading the next book as soon as it is available from the library.

Science fiction - yay or nay?