By Martha Wells
Artificial Condition is a sequel to All Systems Red, signaling that this will be a series of books — The Murderbot Diaries — starring the security cyborg known as Murderbot. The action picks up pretty much where All Systems Red left off, with Murderbot heading to a mining planet in order to discover how his programming got scrambled, which had led to him running amok.
Like All Systems Red this is a very short book, and it has even less story to tell. Most of the action takes place in Murderbot’s head, in the form of data transfers and closed-circuit conversations he has with his new buddy, a space transport’s AI that he bonds with while binge-watching serial dramas. As with a lot of second chapters in SF serials there’s a sense of marking time, of bringing the story forward enough to introduce some new plot line but not really progressing the action. In other words, Wells is setting the hook. As I say, this is often the way that serials play but it means that as a standalone novel Artificial Condition doesn’t have that much to offer.