Book Review: Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells & narrated by Kevin R. Free

Book Synopsis

No, I didn’t kill the dead human. If I had, I wouldn’t dump the body in the station mall.

When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

Again!


Fugitive Telemetry is the sixth instalment in the Murderbot Diaries series and a return to the novella format following Network Effect – and what a return it was! I loved Network Effect and Murderbot’s foray into full -length novels, but this just felt right for me. Murderbot is perfect for these short, sharp stories.

The story is set on Preservation Station, somewhere between Exit Strategy and Network Effect, and this setting gives us the chance to explore just how much Murderbot has grown as a character over course of the series. That is because this story forces Murderbot to engage with a whole host of humans that aren’t its usual gang (Dr Mensah, Ratthi, Gurathin, etc). How? Because Preservation Station has experienced a murder and our beloved SecUnit is drawn into the investigation alongside the station’s human security forces – and neither side is happy about this situation! However, for me, the moment that really highlighted this development for me was the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Murderbot and Doctor Mensah make a decision towards the end – a small decision that makes no actual impact on the overall story in the book or series – that just shows how far they have come. The Murderbot of old would never have agreed to what they did and them voluntarily making this choice gave me a warm, happy feeling.

Now, fundamentally, this story follows a bit of a different plot structure to the other novellas. This is only a good thing for me as it keeps things fresh. At the core of the first four novellas in the series, we have a problem that is preventing either Murderbot or his humans friends/associates from making progress in their scientific studies and Murderbot has to confront it. However Fugitive Telemetry throws this out the window because it is a detective story. A murder has happened on the usually safe and quiet Preservation Station and no one knows what happened, or why it happened! But the possibility that it is part of a GrayCris plot against the station inexorably drags Murderbot into the investigation. So, it is a detective story at its heart – a role that Murderbot excels in with his processing power and speed, and highly logical brain.

Now, I listened to this on audiobook, so I should mention Kevin R. Free. He did a fantastic job. As always. I think his delivery is absolutely spot on and captures the sarcasm of Murderbot perfectly. I don’t have much more to say than that. Job well done!

So, overall, what would I say? Well, the usual humour and sarcastic wit is there a plenty, alongside the study into what it means to be human – and, for me, it is that strange mixture that makes Murderbot what it is. So, if you have enjoyed the previous Murderbot stories then I think you’ll enjoy this one too.

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