Book Review: Rogue Protocol – by Martha Wells

Murderbot Diaries #3

Scifi, Spaceships, AI

Tor; August 7, 2018

160 pages (ebook)

4.5 / 5 ✪

Rogue Protocol sees the return of just the most adorable, rogue SecUnit—a being only slightly more antisocial than myself. But due to some recent body modification, said rogue is now able to pass off as near-human, only recognizable to one of its own or the company that made it. This enables it to blend in quite nicely in crowds. Which it just loves.

The events of Artificial Condition have done more than left Murderbot with some minor body alterations, however. Following the events of All Systems Red, in which GrayCris contrived to murder a bunch of scientists so it could take the planet for its own, shows up again, this time attempting to murder a bunch of scientists to cover up trying to do something equally shady. It should come as no surprise that GrayCris is back at it again, but this time, Murderbot, which is passing itself off as a security consultant, Rin, has taken the fight to them.

Despite having left the relative safety of Dr. Mensah and her team, Rin has not forgotten them. And so it travels to the one system it has been avoiding thus far, one with the answers it seeks. For somewhere, years earlier, the SecUnit went rogue and became Murderbot. And within the abandoned terraforming facility on Milu there may await the answers it seeks. Even, hopefully, the data that Dr. Mensah and her team need to win their lawsuit against GrayCris.

But the road is not easy. Still masquerading as the human consultant Rin, it picks up another team of strays attempting to make their way through the facility, this one possessed of a “pet” robot, Miki, with a pair of mercenaries and their hidden agenda in tow. And must make its way forwards, without exposing its true identity—in between watching episodes of the Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon—while somehow getting the answers it wants. And the answers Dr. Mensah and her team need.

The penultimate Murderbot adventure does quite a lot to set up what’s sure to be (and WAS, as it happens), a thrilling conclusion to the series. I had no trouble at all blowing through Rogue Protocol. Less even than the two before it. At the tune of 160ish pages, it’s about the length of each of the previous two, while still being half that of any proper novel. It felt a bit short, a bit cramped, as the story tried to burst through the seams set around it. Other than a similar $10 price tag (again, a bit much for a novella), that’s my only issue with it. Then again, I picked this up from the library, so I really shouldn’t complain—but, as I really want to read it again… I still will.

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