Reviews

Science Fiction Novella Review: Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

New Murderbot installments are a must-read for me at this point, even if Fugitive Telemetry–the sixth entry in Martha Wells’ The Murderbot Diarieswas a one-off novella that didn’t continue after the events of last year’s novel. And, as usual, I was not disappointed. 

Fugitive Telemetry, despite being sixth in publication order, takes place between the events of Exit Strategy and Network Effect, with a one-off murder mystery plot on Preservation Station. The characters, along with their plot-related hopes and fears, carry over from the first four novellas, but this novella doesn’t move the overall series plot forward. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth reading.

If you’re still coming back after five books, it’s because you like the character of Murderbot. The action in The Murderbot Diaries is generally competent but unexceptional, but getting inside the mind of the titular socially awkward AI is a joy, every single time. And Fugitive Telemetry is no exception, with Murderbot stuck interacting with new humans who work in Preservation Station’s law enforcement, and even worse, feeling the need to earn their trust. Its character may not grow in ways that we haven’t already seen in (the later in-universe) Network Effect, but Murderbot learning to deal with new humans is always compelling, and that makes this one-off murder mystery well worth reading. 

Because the story has less overarching narrative and more self-contained plot, the stakes feel a little lower in the typical big action finish, and that drops it a little bit below previous installments in my estimation, but this one is still a whole lot of fun, and highly recommended to all Murderbot fans. 

Recommended if you like: Murderbot’s internal narration and character interactions. 

Can I use it for Bingo? We’re not supposed to overdo it with the novellas, but this fits First Person POV, 2021 release, Mystery Plot (hard mode), and Found Family (hard mode).

Overall rating: 16 of Tar Vol’s 20. Four stars on Goodreads.

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