What Am I Reading 7.0

What I am Reading 7.0

By Betsey Wilcox

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I missed the deadline for turning in my “What am I reading” article and it didn’t make the April newsletter. The article was completed but I neglected to send it to our editor, Caroline. To make up for that you are getting twice the number of books you would have gotten if I’d made the deadline. I was trying to stay ahead of my memory, so I wrote the reviews as I finished the stories in whatever format I have ingested them. As promised last time, here are my thoughts on “The Murderbot Diaries” and a few others. Martha Wells, my personal apology for messing this up.

Martha Wells- “The Murderbot Diaries”

  1. “All Systems Red-” Novella

The first novella in the series. I didn’t know what to expect and was very pleased as I started reading. There wasn’t a dull moment as Murderbot (as it calls itself), jumped into action, saved two humans, and let you discover other things about it in unexpected ways. And then there was a mysterious abort command before MedSystem put it in stasis for emergency repair. All in the first chapter! The rest of the story unfolds in a logical manner, with Murderbot giving hints of its dark secret, and its media addiction but its actions continue to put its murderous reputation in doubt. With its hacked governing system useless to keep it under control, there was nothing to keep it from becoming a mass murderer (except itself). At the end of the novella, Murderbot finds itself hitching a ride on a bot piloted transport. Intro to ART who scares Murderbot a little.

  1. “Artificial Condition” – Novella

The second novella opens to remind us that Murderbot has a dark secret involving events that it can’t properly remember, and its correct designation is SecUnit. This novella fills in more blanks in SecUnit’s swiss cheese memory, sends it on a merry chase for details on classified mission, or what it finds it doubts is the whole story. It also introduces ART (read the book to find out what the acronym stands for!) and shows the progression of the friendship between the two bots as it develops, along with trust and mutual love of specific media series. Who knew bots could be friends or fans? This also has the advantage of showing SecUnit and ART in the Corporate sector which turns out to be a different sphere of influence than the PreservationAux who purchased SecUnit. SecUnit is considered by PreservationAux to be a person, and not property, an uncomfortable thing for SecUnit to consider.

  1. “Rogue Protocol” – Novella

Picking up where the last one ended, we find SecUnit on yet another transport hitching a ride to where it hopes to find more answers to incidents from its past and proof that the last corporate owner really was murdering its own clients to protect anyone from broadcasting its misdeeds! The company is still trying to destroy evidence of misdeeds against previous clients and isn’t shy about doing similar  damage to SecUnit’s current client. The story introduces yet another type of bot to SecUnit, which ends sadly for Miki, but has lessons  for SecUnit to ponder.

  1. “Exit Strategy” – Novella

Heading “home”, after deciding to help Dr. Mensah with evidence that could keep its former owner from destroying PreservationAux and anyone else it deems a threat to its continued cheating and murderous ways, SecUnit has to rescue Dr. Mensah after being kidnapped and held hostage by the oh so evil corporation called GrayChris. This story is full of plans and counterplans SecUnit and its collaborators use to free Dr. Mensah all the while maintaining the old adage that war plans never survive first contact with the enemy. Watch SecUnit keep alive those that matter to it while redeveloping action plans on the fly and succeeding in the rescue of Dr. Mensah and SecUnit’s growth as an individual.

  1. “Fugitive Telemetry” – Novella

This one snuck up on me as it is not yet published in print book format but is on Kindle and Audible. It takes place before the novel  Network Effect, so I am placing it here for those who want to read the books in story progression order, even though it is listed as Murderbot Diaries #6.

  1. “Network Effect” – Novel

This the first novel in the series and is of course the 2020 Hugo winner for best novel. I loved the expanded format from novella to novel. A longer stage for SecUnit’s development is a plus. Finding out that ART had been hijacked and wondering how to get him back, seeing the growth of SecUnit is a delight. Don’t miss this installment of SecUnit’s development. Ms. Wells said in an interview I read/heard that she is planning two more novellas and another novel in the Murderbot Diaries, so be on the lookout!

  1. “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory” – Short Story

Another trying to sneak by me is this short story currently only as an e-book, Dr. Mensah is not having a good time since her kidnapping. She thinks she can control her reactions to triggers yet unknown to her. Hey, guess what, sounds like someone denying they have PTSI and SecUnit is concerned. It keeps bombarding her feed with requisitions for ever increasing bigger weapons to protect its people. It  gets to the point where Dr. Mensah finally agrees with SecUnit that she might need help.

Tamsyn Muir – Harrow the Ninth

This continuation of Gideon the Ninth is a rollercoaster! I swear I got whiplash from just reading this. I think it is great read and explains a lot about the nine/ten houses and a whole lot of things that I just didn’t catch in the first novel. Time travel gives me headaches, but this was more like dimension hopping, which didn’t give me a headache but did make for an interesting read. I am looking forward to the third novel, Nona the Ninth, coming in 2022!

John Scalzi – Kaiju Preservation Society

Okay, I have a few personal confessions to make here, one being that I really like John Scalzi’s writing and yes, I got the book the day it was published. Two, as you might have noticed my name is Betsey, spelled this way and I can count on the family tree at least 4 generations of women with the name Betsey of various spellings. Three, I can’t decide if John insults me in this book or if I should feel honored to have a Kaiju named after me (spelling aside). When you get to this point in the book you can decide if he means I am a dinosaur, kaiju or what. (Yes, I know he isn’t writing about me in particular, that would just be too weird).

I had no idea what to expect from this book as I had no idea what Kaiju were. Now I know what and how awesome kaiju are, as is the book! I listened to the Audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton, and he is perfect in this book. I love the setting/timing of the book. It was like collecting 2-year-old easter eggs. I am not going to get into specifics but think of “Little Fuzzy” on mega steroids and a temper to match (poor Frank) and bad billionaires trying to get richer by exploitation of the defenseless.

Wil Wheaton- Still Just a Geek, Kindle

Speaking of Wil Wheaton (see above), I decided to listen to 50-year-old Wil apologize or rationalize or otherwise admit teenage Wil, 20-year-old Wil, and 30-something Wil was a bit of a jerk. Please don’t think of this as “Let’s rag on Wesley Crusher!”. It is not about that. I like his portrayal of Wesley and I read the first iteration of “Just a Geek”, which wasn’t exactly great literature and given the age difference between us was sometimes over my head (I am not a gamer, or into the same music). I was hoping to see some real personal growth from Wil and boy, did I get that! Having Wil read this book added a dimension to the story that it wouldn’t have had if I’d decided to read the revised book in print. Wil is very entertaining in trying to make sense of his life, his family, and his journey from 14-year-old Wil as the only child on a series surrounded by adults, with lots of issues, to the “yes I am in therapy” family man he has become. I am proud of his journey and his willingness to share it all with the world. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are worthless!

Laura Childs – Tea Shop Mysteries

For a change of scene/genre, I want to recommend to all of you a series of book in what is known as the cozy mystery niche. There are currently 22 of the Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs. In the interest honesty, I have only read through # 9, but I have them all and have read enough to feel comfortable making a grand recommendation. The murders/crimes that are solved are pretty good. What makes these different is all the teaching about teas from around the world AND the receipts for all kinds of goodies to go with your tea. Receipts is a southern way of saying recipes, so one other point of interest is it is set in the historic district of Charleston, SC. They are filled with characters that you sometimes just want to throttle and teas that have made me search the internet to find. The first book is “Death by Darjeeling” and number 22 is “Twisted Tea Christmas”. Give them a try, you might learn something new.

Until next time,