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System Collapse: The Murderbot Diaries #7    by Martha Wells order for
System Collapse
by Martha Wells
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2024 (2024)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries are tremendous fun! System Collapse follows Fugitive Telemetry as the seventh in this space opera series laced with humor. Our hero, Murderbot, is a sentient machine with organic neural tissue. Though programmed for destruction, he has gone rogue. His hilarious perspective on the humans he is now committed to protect pulls reader interest through the series.

Murderbot hates planets, especially ones 'where you have to investigate the probably-not-empty, possibly alien-contaminated Pre-Corporation Rim occupation site while wearing an environmental suit instead or armor'. He'd been sent down to take out an agricultural bot near trapped humans. Complicating matters are hostile Sec-Units from the Barish-Estranza corporation, which plans to 'assert salvage-right ownership of the colony's humans'.

Murderbot guards his human friends on a mission to an underground polar settlement to locate any humans still alive there. Unfortunately he's not at his best - short of his usual armor, drones, and having suffered something very like human PTSD. They do find the colonists but a Barish-Estranza team (with Sec-Units) got there first. How to convince the colonists that the corporation is not their friend? Murderbot shares a persuasive documentary.

It works but then violence erupts as the corporation decides on forced indenture. As Murderbot comments, 'Wow, you don't think it can get any worse, and it always does.' But that - and the dialogue between Murderbot, humans and AIs - is what makes this series so worth following.

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