Monday, August 7, 2023

Compulsory (Murderbot Diaries #0.5), by Martha Wells

Subterranean Press, July 2023

This is a short story, about an early and critical incident in the life of Murderbot, well before it meets those humans who will, unexpectedly, become its friends. Even The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon is still a relatively recent discovery.

Murderbot is under contract as security in a mine, and its duty is to protect, not the workers, but the equipment. Well, unless death or injury to an employee will negatively affect production. 

Murderbot is on duty, but watching a Sanctuary Moon episode rather than truly paying attention to what's going on nearby, when a fairly foolish argument breaks out between two humans, and results in a stupid accident which sends one of them falling down the mineshaft. When she catches herself on a piece of the equipment, fall halted temporarily, Murderbot has to decide what to do.

Save the fallen miner, and expose itself as no longer under the control of its governor module? Keep (outwardly) following orders, while (inwardly) watching Sanctuary Moon? Which means, letting the miner die for no good reason?

Is there a third alternative?

This is an important turning point for Murderbot, and a formative moment for the Murderbot we come to know and appreciate in its later adventures.

I bought this book.

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