I really enjoyed the Lost Fleet series as well but never managed to finish the last couple of the Beyond the Frontier since they hadn’t come out then and I just forgot to check back.
Title: Artificial Condition
Series: The Murderbot Diaries; Book 2
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Science Fiction
ROTS Setting: CU, Distant-Future, FTL (Wormholes), AI
Synopsis: 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…
Recommendation: I recommend this book. Teens or older. (But the series isn’t what I liked about the first book.)
I enjoyed the book but it fundamentally felt very different from the first one.
At some point between the end of the first book and the beginning of this one the murderbot suddenly became a human. Not literally, it’s still an artificial construct, but it’s way of perceiving, interpreting the world around it and conveying its thoughts and emotions to the reader are indistinguishable from a human. Sometime between the books it’s murderbot-ness was lost and replaced with a human acting like the murderbot. And with it went my primary reason for reading the series.
As I said, I enjoyed the book. It’s got several interesting elements but not one reason for me to read the next except the promise of a not-terrible book. (Which is more tempting than it sounds.)
Additionally, the inclusion of a non-binary gender felt a bit odd. It’s implemented infinitely better than Provenance, but I still found myself translating the new pronouns in my head after repeatedly being pulled out of the story every time one was used. It added nothing to the story and once I realized there basically weren’t any male characters (except as henchmen) it was easy to just consider the person as female and move on.
Personally, I think the new pronouns were a detriment to readability and I would have just preferred they/them or simply just use their name to keep things flowing smoothly. However, it’s books like this one that can help bring alternate pronouns into mainstream usage in a very organic way while still providing an entertaining experience. No bludgeon necessary. So kudos to the author for having a light touch.
In summary, it was entertaining and the short length kept things moving along nicely. Sadly, my reason for reading is gone so I won’t be continuing the series.