The official plot synopsis: “In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.”
Narrated in first person by the Unit, we learn his disdain for his educational packs, “I ran my field camera back a little and saw I had gotten stabbed with a tooth, or maybe a cilla. Did I mean a cilla or was that something else? They don’t give murderbots decent education modules on anything except murdering, and then those are the cheap versions.” When asked by one of the explorer party he is guarding about his internal software, he responds ” ‘I carefully monitor my own systems.’ What else did he think I was going to say? It didn’t matter; I’m not refundable.”
When he finds himself concerned about one of the explorers, he muses to himself, “I don’t know why, because it’s one of those things I’m not contractually obligated to care about. When I do manage to care, I’m a pessimist.”
He spends his downtime watching the futurist versions of sitcoms, weekly dramas, soap operas that he has downloaded, probably illegally. He feels he has learned more about how to do his job from the action dramas he watches than from any of his internal instructions. He gets annoyed when he has to direct his attention to the job he was contracted for.
Basically, the storyline is about an explorer party of the future equivalent of Green Peacers, on a planet which also has at the same time another explorer group on the opposite side of the planet, all looking for resources. Things go awry with transmissions, and missing parts of maps, etc., and when they find they cannot contact the other group, they fly to that part of the planet to discover them all murdered by the same security bots who were supposed to be their security team.
But semi-interesting as the action plotline is, the real core of the book is its star, the narrator android. Sarcastic, introspective, and competent, we like him so much. Or her? It does tell us that it has no gender parts, so I guess ‘it’ is the proper pronoun.
Three additional volumes in this series. Yee haw!