Minirewiews: Artificial Condition & Biosphere: Hazard or there is a whole world out there!

Hello people! How are you? I hope you all are well! Here in Italy we got a new lock-down, or a sort of, so things in general aren’t peachy, but I hope you all are safe!

Title: Artificial Condition
Series: Murderbot #2
Author: Martha Wells
Page Count: 158

It has a dark past – one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.
Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.
What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

When I read the first book of this series I was somewhat disappointed. It is not to say that I didn’t like it, not at all, it was more a thing about too high expectations and to try my hand at shorter books.
This series is beloved of many, and it deserves it, but all the hype made me expect something that wasn’t realistic. And there is the fact that short books are quite different from long ones, sometimes it is a subtle thing, and sometimes not so much, but the differences are there and you have to acknowledge them.


I think that those were my problems with the first book. But when I started this second installment I knew what to expect, and this made all the difference! I loved this one from the start to the end. Murderbot is a great MC, more human than humans in some respects, and completely alien in others. It is a pleasure to follow him in his adventures, exploring the new freedom he conquered and the world, that now is his to take (well, maybe not literally).

“SecUnits don’t care about the news. […] mostly because the news was boring and I didn’t care what humans were doing to each other as long as I didn’t have to a) stop it or b) clean up after it. “

And with his new and hard conquered freedom what would our favorite Murderbot do? His first quest is to discover his past. And watch some media, obviously! This is such a human feature, the need to know what happened to us, what we were once, and yet it is totally “in-character” for our bot. Murderbot is a marvelous character, witty and unique, with a touch of anxiety and paranoia that create a spectacular mix, and a highly entertaining one. Sometimes he reminds me a bit of Marvin ( the paranoid android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy) and since Marvin is one of the best characters ever because come on! The idea of him is the most brilliant ever! This is a high price. But Murderbot isn’t the only great character in this story. ART has merits all on his own too! This big and somewhat shy, at least at the beginning, AI is fantastic and he slowly grow on you. I really hope to see him/her/it again!

This was a very fast reading, fun and entertaining, with some food for thoughts, and now I have to keep going and read the sequels, because I need more Murderbot in my life!

Writing the review for this book was easy, because I knew I liked it and my thought were clear, but for this second book things get more complicated, but let’s see if I would manage it!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Biosphere: Hazard
Author: B.W. Cole
Page Count: 77

When Kit escapes the boredom of space settlement Oasis-7 for a more exciting life, he leaves behind his brother, Jay, and sets him on a journey of his own to try and regain what he lost.
Imprisoned renegade, Sola, serves her time on a nameless moon under the shadow of giant planet Tian. When her friends disappear due to a mysterious illness, secrets begin to unravel, and the true and terrifying nature of the moon is revealed.
There is only one choice. Escape. At all costs.
Events are set in motion that can never be undone. Can you ever truly go back from where you came? If you return, what is the cost?
Dripping with the Gothic atmosphere of Bladerunner and Alien, lovers of dark science fiction, suspense stories and horror will happily sink their teeth into Biosphere: Hazard.

I discovered this short novella thanks to an amazing review, and I just needed to read it, so when I discovered that it was on BookSirens I requested it and immersed myself in the reading.
On one hand, I had a great time with this short story, because it is original and intriguing. we have some interesting characters, original points, and amazing worldbuilding, so all is great right? Well… not so much, sadly.
We have a lot of good things, that’s true, but there were some things that didn’t sit so well with me, and that made the reading a mixed feeling experience.

As I was saying, the world-building is original and interesting. We see humans defer their authority to the androids, in an unexpected turn of ideology, and it really makes sense. It was amazing! Obviously, the attempt to create a perfect and happy society is just that, an attempt, and it isn’t perfect, and not everybody is happy with it.

This was the Androids’ primary function. To disarm conflict of all kinds.
Pace, Love, and AI supremacy.
[…]No arguments, no debates, no upsets. Everything would be managed in the “right” way, and in such a way, no one could ever think of a counterattack.
[…]The best part was they still did menial tasks and obeyed humans just like subordinates. Only when a human stepped out of line were they reminded which party was actually the superior one and who was truly in charge.

I just wrote down some of the more interesting passages, but really, all the pages about the world-building, the pages which explain this part, are very very intriguing. The point is that we get them around half of the story and if on one hand, this is good because it gives you time to wonder about this new world, on the other hand, it gives you an explanation for Kit’s action, that until that point seem just the most stupid thing you can ever do. Not that after this explanation he seems more bright, not at all, but at least he has some excuse for it.

Because yes, to me the main problem was Kit. Now imagine, the dumbest thing you can do? Well, it is not enough! He escapes from his planet, like all the angsty teenagers out there dream to do, but he escapes aboard a prison ship. Yes, a prison ship. Take just a second to think about it. A prison ship. And ok, this is the ship he manages to stowaway, but… he knew that is full of inmates so… why??? I swear, this thing buggered me to no end while reading. And yes, once you know more about all the worldbuilding you can at least give him some excuse, but… come on! And once he is in the “prison” (a deserted planet where only criminals live, because it is a prison, yes) he discovered that Sola, with whom he became friend, is a criminal and he is offended by it. Really boy? I can understand that you are young and naive, but come on! Pretty pretty please???
As you can see I didn’t take this all so well. It was maddening!

To be honest, I am not a big fan of the ending either. It was just not well developed. It was not bad but… not so good. It was hurried and not well planned. And yes, I understand this is just a short story, but this is not an excuse. But if my only problem with the story would have been the ending I wouldn’t be so conflicted, because yes, the ending is an important part of a story and this was no good but… but there are a lot of things to appreciate in there, maddening and annoying as hell part aside.

Sola, for example, is an interesting character, and for once she is not the captain of her crew, she is just the last addiction to the crew, but you can see that this is a good crew, where everybody is important, and they are a family of sort. I appreciated it a lot. And the story is good. It is captivating, it is creepy and it would have been a good read for October, with all things spooky. I am not a fan of horror, but this story is sci-fi horror and I appreciated this part a lot. I had a great time while reading, but I was constantly buggered by Kit and his idiocy. I may be a bit… ruthless here, but I cannot express my irritation enough, sorry!

So, if you can close an eye on the naive co-MC (I can call it idiocy, but “naive” sounds kinder) this short story would take you into a new world, dominated by androids, and it would creep you out a bit. The ideal thing to spend a couple of hours with, on your couch, cuddled up with a mug of hot tea.

So, this is all for today! have you read these books? Or are you planning to do it? Let me know!

Happy reading,
S.

6 thoughts on “Minirewiews: Artificial Condition & Biosphere: Hazard or there is a whole world out there!

  1. Ola G says:

    For mek Artificial Condition was the best of the 4 novellas. I haven’t read the novel yet, but it seems it’s also pretty good 🙂 Murderbot is a really cool, anjoyable character but you’re right – the hype was a bit too big for it.

    Like

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    Characters who act dumb, and keep doing it because they are unable to learn from their mistakes, irritate me to no end, so I can understand your frustration with Kit!
    On the other hand, I’m glad you warmed to MurderBot, and I love your description as “more human than humans” – just don’t let MB hear you: he might take offense… 😀 😀

    Like

  3. Realms of My Mind says:

    I think ART is my favorite of the characters Murderbot meets! I love all the novellas individually, but I think it also help to think of the four novellas as one big arc for Murderbot as they figure out who they are and what they want in life.

    Like

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