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Network Effect: The Murderbot Diaries #5    by Martha Wells order for
Network Effect
by Martha Wells
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Network Effect is the fifth of Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries that started in 2017. The series offers space opera well laced with humor. I missed the first four episodes and now must get hold of them. Their lead is a sentient machine (with some organic neural tissue) programmed for destruction, a Murderbot. It point of view is hilarious.

As this episode opens, our AI hero (a rogue SecUnit) is trying to keep its clients safe (though they are not very cooperative) from a raider vessel full of Potential Targets, attempting to board its charges' sea research facility. SecUnit being a Murderbot, the hostiles soon get what they deserve, though SecUnit and its drones are shot up in the process.

The episode continues with SecUnit's continuing amusing assessments of its clients and Potential Targets. Both sides gradually develop a better understanding and acceptance of the others' perspectives, especially young Amena. She and SecUnit end up on a sentient ship, ART, a deepspace research and teaching vessel and an old friend of the MurderBot's. ART has been hijacked, its crew kidnapped and its controls hacked.

Soon the Murderbot's on a mission to rescue ART's missing crew. In the process, it comes upon another of its own kind and helps it adjust to controlling its own destiny. SecUnit also gets duplicated (briefly). It survives (after many restarts) and is offered a new mission by ART. I very much look forward to reading what happens next.

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