Written by American author Martha Wells, The Murderbot Diaries is a science-fiction series about an artificial construct designed as a Security Unit called Murderbot. It was successful in overriding its governor module, allowing it to establish independence. Now, Murderbot wants primarily to consume media, especially soap opera, but find itself entangled with human affairs and begins to form friendships and emotional bonds.
The series won several awards, including multiple Hugo Awards, Locus Awards, and Nebula Awards. It also won the American Library Association’s Alex Award and has been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award.
How to read The Murderbot Diaries Series in Order?
The Murderbot Diaries Series in Publication Order
- All Systems Red (2017) – In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid – a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
- Artificial Condition (2018) – It has a dark past-one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue. What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…
- Rogue Protocol (2018) – Sci-fi’s favorite antisocial A.I. is back on a mission. The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is. And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.
- Exit Strategy (2018) – Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right? Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah-its former owner (protector? friend?)-submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit. But who’s going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue? And what will become of it when it’s caught?
- The Future of Work: Compulsory (short story, 2018) – in Wired.com magazine as part of a series “The Future of Work” on December 17, 2018. Also available on kindle now.
- Network Effect (2020) – When Murderbot’s human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action. Drastic action it is, then.
- Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory (2020, short story) – This story was originally given free to readers who pre-ordered Martha’s Murderbot novel, Network Effect. It is told from the point of view of Dr. Mensah and follows the events in Exit Strategy.
- Fugitive Telemetry (2021) – When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people-who knew?) Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans! Again!
- System Collapse (2023) – Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize. But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!
The Murderbot Diaries Series in Chronological Order
- The Future of Work: Compulsory (short story, 2018)
- All Systems Red (2017)
- Artificial Condition (2018)
- Rogue Protocol (2018)
- Exit Strategy (2018)
- Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory (2020, short story)
- Fugitive Telemetry (2021)
- Network Effect (2020)
- System Collapse (2023)
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