This review will be short and sweet and primarily for those of you who are already reading The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells. If you aren’t already reading Murderbot, you have made a mistake; please go read my review for book one – All Systems Red. To the rest of you who are still here, my goal is to answer two key questions: is Fugitive Telemetry a part of the main Murderbot story arc, and is it good? The answers to those questions are no (I think, but could be wrong) and yes.
I am (surprisingly) not a prophet, so I can’t for sure tell you that nothing that happens in Fugitive Telemetry will matter in the greater Murderbot story. But, I am pretty sure it won’t. Telemetry is stylized as a random side quest that occurs near the events of our first full-length Murderbot book, Network Effect, and is about Murderbot accidentally stumbling into a fairly random murder investigation while taking some downtime between missions. The back cover sells it as the first time Murderbot has to actively work with humans, but given the events of the last three stories, I don’t know if I buy it – or if I do it seems like semantics.
The story is short and sweet, showcasing all the usual hallmarks of what makes a Murderbot story good: lovable/relatable protagonist who just wants to watch TV, hilarious dry humor, good action and worldbuilding, and well-presented character development. Despite the fact that this story definitely feels like a filler arc to tide us over until the next core story, I enjoyed it a lot. This isn’t surprising as Murderbot is great.
However, I will say that each of the previous five core installments of Murderbot are all characterized by a gradual and well-realized evolution of Murderbot’s character. And while there is a tiny bit of character growth for Murderbot in Telemetry, it comes at the end in a massive spurt. I can’t even talk about it because even dissecting the theme would give away the ending by its nature. This felt like a step back from the usual evolution I am accustomed to seeing from Murderbot and was a bit disappointed.
Yet, is this setback enough to keep me from recommending Fugitive Telemetry? Absolutely not. If you enjoyed the other Murderbot stories you will absolutely enjoy this one. It may not have the same weight as the others but it is still an entertaining blast to read. It’s just that if I had to pick my least favorite segment of this incredible series, it would easily be this one.
Rating: Fugitive Telemetry – 8.5/10