Rogue Protocol

Rogue Protocol is the third book in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series. Like the previous two books, it’s a nice hardcover edition of a novella, just 160 pages in length. It’s a quick read—two evenings if you stretch it out—but a fun one. In this adventure, Murderbot takes on the alias Rin, and hitches a ride on a transport to investigate the space station Milu. With no real purpose now that it has its freedom, Murderbot finds itself drawn to the nefarious dealings that the corporation GrayCris has been up to. Supposedly they failed to terraform a planet, but there’s indicators that something else is going on, and Murderbot plans to find out what in order to help build a case against GrayCris and their dirty dealings. What Murderbot doesn’t expect is to run into another group of humans and their pet robot. Not too mention more killer bots that plan to wipe out everyone.

With her usual wit and drive, Martha Wells crams in some humor and action as this story explores what it might be like to be a rogue artificial intelligence. Yet Murderbot is evolving. It is no longer the simple SecUnit it was to begin with. It’s now modified its appearance and its trying to act human…in order to blend in. However, its interactions with humans is also creating a personality and desires, at least seemingly so. Murderbot still loves to watch serials, and prefers silence to interacting with humans, but it is also clinging to some of its old protocols when it comes to helping humans. The things it retains and the things it abandons helps shape the thing that it is. With each book, it becomes more complicated. Its still a machine, it still has limitations, but it also has free will and it struggles with things like desires and decisions. It’s interesting and it’s one of the core draws of the book, that exploration of an AI and what it might be like.

Aside from the exploration of Murderbot, this book also explores a more traditional robot named Miki. Murderbot refers to Miki as a pet bot since Miki has human owners and she serves them faithfully in an almost loving matter. Miki’s presence provides a nice contrast to Murderbot, as you can see how the two differ. The storyline also plays up on Miki’s presence to add to Murderbot’s experiences with other bots. While its liking of Miki may not live up to ART in the previous story, I have a feeling Miki may have an important impact on Murderbot in the long run.

Without giving anything away, the book does get into some action as Murderbot has to deal with hostile bots on Milu station. It once again has to work with and protect the humans it is with, and it utilizes its unique skills to get the job done. It provides for some fun fights and some nice drama, but the real drive of the book is Murderbot’s personality and its interactions with the world around it.

For fans of the series, Rogue Protocol is another fun jaunt inside the head of an AI that’s striving to find purpose in a world where it’s not suppose to have freedom. Murderbot struggles between the selfish desire to watch serials and withdraw from everything else, and the odd desire to help out its human acquaintances. With more books planned, it’ll be interesting to see how Murderbot evolves and changes as it interacts with more people and bots. With its quirky personality and its tendency to find trouble and interesting people, it makes for an entertaining read. I give Rogue Protocol a five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.
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