Review – Fugitive Telemetry

Posted December 6, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 3 Comments

Cover of Fugitive Telemetry by Martha WellsFugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells

And here I am at last, caught up! And it didn’t even take me as long this time (I think)! It turned out that Murderbot was the ideal (mostly) bite-size companion for the stressful month of November, and the novellas in particular were eaten up in the space of a day in most cases. Fugitive Telemetry took me a bit longer, but it wasn’t the book’s fault. It’s a very fun detective story, with Murderbot getting to use its skills in ways much more like it was designed for, and it gives us a glimpse of how Preservation works, how people (and free bots) behave there, and how Murderbot is beginning to find its place.

It is set before Network Effect, and I think for some people that made it a touch disappointing, since Network Effect was a step up in scope. For me, though, I was relieved to sink back into a monster-of-the-week type adventure — I couldn’t take a season finale in every book! And I think Murderbot shines here, grumpy and yet unable to help caring, and unable to help forming attachments despite its best efforts.

There is also a great line where Murderbot calls Ratthi and Gurathin when it needs witnesses/accomplices, on the grounds that Ratthi will help them do a thing and Gurathin will come along in order to tell them they’re doing it wrong. (This is a paraphrase so as not to ruin the context or the moment, but those who’ve read the book will know.) I’d happily read a lot more of Murderbot hanging out with Ratthi and Gurathin!

Actually, there are a bunch of great lines, of course, but that one really struck me.

Rating: 4/5

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3 responses to “Review – Fugitive Telemetry

  1. I confess I was among those who was a trifle disappointed by this one on first read, though I liked it better the second time around!

    For me, the problem wasn’t the monster-of-the-week scope; I agree with you that it’s nice to have a smaller-scale story. But I admit that, in this series, I don’t care about the plot nearly as much as I like Murderbot’s internal life. Its voice is such a delight, and it’s fun seeing its developing sense of itself and how it relates to others and the world. I had been looking forward to seeing how its relationship with ART/Peri was going to progress and how…well, so far, even when Muderbot has been away from its found family in the Preservation Alliance, it’s still been looking out for them in one way or another. It’s kind of exciting to think of where it’ll go from here. So suddenly discovering that, nope, we’re resetting the clock and going back to an earlier stage of character development was a bit of a letdown.

    For this reason, I’ve been advising people who are reading the series for the first time to read it in chronological order, not publication order. (I’m not sure anybody’s listened!)

    To reiterate, though, I liked it better once my expectations were reset. I <3 Murderbot. 🙂

    • I’d agree with chronological order too, to be honest — I tend to prefer it anyway. It’s a good point about feeling like it’s resetting the clock — I do hope future stories come after Network Effect, especially because ART is my favourite and I’d really like to know more about ART’s humans!

      But I think this did fill in a hole which was not hugely narratively important, but did show us Murderbot interacting with other free bots on Preservation, meaning it now has a bit of a better view of what it would actually be choosing if it chose to stay on Preservation. (Though, I’m surprised to realise it didn’t really comment directly on whether it thought Balin and the other bots were ‘pet bots’ in the way it worries about…)

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