Reviews

Short Story: HOME: HABITAT, RANGE, NICHE, TERRITORY, by Martha Wells

A Murderbot Diaries story set after Exit Strategy

Click on the link to read it online

It’s been a while since I visited the Tor.com section that lists short stories, and my return to the site was marked by an exciting find: a brief tale by Martha Wells set in the Murderbot saga, and more precisely right after Exit Strategy. You can imagine how I whooped with delight at this discovery…

What’s interesting in Home: Habitat… is that the POV for once is not Murderbot’s but rather Dr. Mensah’s as she deals with the double trouble of dealing with her PTSD, after her kidnapping at the hands of GrayCris operatives, and of making her compatriots in Preservation Alliance accept the Sec-Unit as a worthy individual rather than a killing machine.

The usual “gang” is all here, of course, the group of humans who accepted Murderbot as one of their own, and as usual it’s a delight to see them and witness their exchanges, but the different focus of this story helps us see MB from a different perspective, particularly where its body language is concerned: the way it prefers not to meet the humans’ gaze directly, or its insistence in forwarding outlandish weapons requests, which sounds more like a way of joking with Mensah rather than anything else. Not that Murderbot would ever admit to making a joke or trying to ease the good doctor’s spirits, of course… 😉

Still, there is room, despite the brevity of the tale, for some intriguing considerations about MB’s status – and that of its brethren: the Corporate Rim’s way of doing business has implemented a form of slavery that might be hiding under the guise of contracts, and more civilized institutions, like Preservation, do all they can to guarantee other humans’ rights; again, on Preservation A.I.s are assured of their rights as citizens thanks to their self-awareness. But, as Mensah muses at some point, Murderbot falls between these two extremes, and as such it’s not considered worthy of protection: it’s totally new territory and she’s determined to change the rules because she – as her other companions – has perceived the potential in what others see only as an instrument of death.

”…they are all aware of what they are and what’s been done to them. But the only choice they are ever offered is obedience or pain and death”

In the overall lightness of the series, this is a very serious consideration and one that sheds more light into Mensah’s determination to insure Murdebort’s acceptance into a more civilized society.

An unmissable addition to the wonderful Diaries continuing tale.

My Rating:

20 thoughts on “Short Story: HOME: HABITAT, RANGE, NICHE, TERRITORY, by Martha Wells

  1. I did see this story in the chronological list when I looked at the goodreads listing for the series, but I’d never known anyone who read it until now! Glad it was good, but I already eel the novellas are too short, I would have no idea what my reaction would be to a short story 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your impressions of this short story, Maddalena:)). I listened to Network Effect as an audiobook last month and had a blast with it. The twists and turns – and the underlying wrongness of what has been done to Murderbot and all those like it is dealt with effectively and powerfully without becoming preachy – had me completely engrossed. Like you, I’m a fan. Though I wish the novellas were longer – I can’t justify the cost!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is indeed an inbalance between the page count and the cost of these novellas, but since we are now addicted to Murderbot there is no way out – and the publisher knows it… (((SIGH))). Still, I would not miss them for the world 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I completely agree with your take on this story. I absolutely prefer the longer novellas and novels but I thought this was a great way to further flesh out the series and explore the characters and their relationships. Murderbot is one of my favorite creations in quite some time.

    Liked by 1 person

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