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Way Up in the Clouds

Rogue Protocol  (Murderbot Diaries, volume 3)

By Martha Wells 

10 May, 2018

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2018’s Rogue Protocol is the third book in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series.

Frustrated with the progress of the case against the GrayCris Corporation (more exactly, the lack thereof), rogue SecUnit (self-designated Murderbot) reluctantly heads off to find damning evidence on GrayCris. 

Which brings us to certain events in the Milu System.

GrayCris claims that its cancelled Milu project was a terraforming project that failed to pan out. Murderbot is sure that the actual (illicit) purpose of the project was finding and retrieving alien relics. The terraforming facility was slated for destruction. A third-party salvage effort by another firm, GoodNightLander, prevented that and may have preserved evidence that would condemn GrayCris. Murderbot wants to check out the orbital terraforming station in person. 

That could be a problem, because its very existence, as an autonomous SecUnit, is highly illegal, Even in another, liberal, polity, Murderbot would be required to have a human guardian. The laws in corporation-dominated space are far more draconian; the best Murderbot could expect is mind-wipe and re-enslavement. Murderbot side stepped these laws in the previous book by passing itself off as an augmented human security consultant. This time it hopes to avoid the issue by avoiding humans altogether once it gets to the terraforming station.

There is a GoodNightLander Independent fact-finding mission on site. But the site is a big facility, with ample room for two independent groups to explore, ignorant of each other’s presence. But just in case, Murderbot hacks the GoodNightLander Independent companion robot Miki. Through Miki, he hopes to keep tabs on Miki’s human masters (Abene and Harune) and a couple of human body guards.

It’s good for Abene, Harune, and the others that antisocial Murderbot is lurking in the shadows. There is a third group active in the facility. The third faction is heavily armed, determined to accomplish its mission goals, and it really, really does not want company.


Poor Murderbot! All it wants to do is watch soap opera, but circumstances keep entangling it with squishy humans. Well, not so much circumstances” as Murderbot’s own decisions.” It just cannot help doing its original job, to guard and protect. 

There’s an odd recurring theme in these stories. Although large corporations are inherently untrustworthy, willing to murder and massacre if that helps the bottom line, the humans who work for the megacorps take a surprisingly sunny view of their evil masters. Which makes them sitting ducks when the megacorps decide that they must be exterminated. 

Perhaps this odd obliviousness is a coping mechanism; if the humans need jobs and they need to be blind to context to keep those jobs, they will be blind. Or perhaps it’s simply that until they themselves are targeted, the humans see the corporations as threats to other people, not them. 

Or maybe, just maybe

I had asked Ayres if the twenty years (of the contract Ayres signed) was measured by the planetary calendar or the proprietary calendar of the corporation who maintained the planet, or the Corporation Rim Recommended Standard, or what? He didn’t know, and hadn’t understood why it mattered. 

it’s just that humans in the Murderbotverse are simply not very bright. They are more of a burden than a support. Luckily the robots (such as the cheerful optimist, Miki) and other artificial constructs are useful allies. 

Murderbot is endearing in their own antisocial, paranoid way. They may have hacked their own governor module, but they have not yet managed to eliminate their needless attachment to humans. Until it does, Murderbot is consigned to a life of stressful adventure. It’s hard on poor Murderbot, but it makes for great reader entertainment.

Rogue Protocol is available for pre-order here (Amazon) and here (Chapters-Indigo).