Murderbot and Me: A Guest Post by Robin Anne Reid

16 thoughts on “Murderbot and Me: A Guest Post by Robin Anne Reid

  1. You’re very welcome!

    AFter I wrote this up and sent to Mike, I realized I had to go read the series again because it is so wonderful!

  2. Thank you! While I love MB, you brought up a lot of insights and perspectives I had not considered. This is helpful and interesting.

  3. This is great. I also had difficulty referring to Murderbot as ‘it’ initially. It took some real thought and unpacking of layers about what was making me uncomfortable. The top layer was simple – Murderbot was a person, and in my culture people are not referred to as ‘it.’ But deeper layers made me think about how I was preferencing my own comfort over the expressed wishes of a person (in this case, a character) and how that wasn’t how I wanted to conduct myself. I’ve never been able to express it well, so thank you for putting it so clearly.

  4. Thank you! Saving to read when I have more time to decode the rot13 bits.

    It’s so easy to slip into wanting to reread these stories. I went to look up the quote about tissue batches yesterday and got sucked into reading the whole end of the book from there.

  5. I’m reassured that Apple is undertaking this series and neither Amazon or Netflix as it is very obvious that the group at Apple underwriting abd choosing these series are true SF fans given what has been done for series there so far.

  6. Thank you, robin!

    Your story about reading in early grades reminds me of one my mother had, where the (inexperienced) teacher thought there was Something Wrong with me because’ id finish the reading and go do something else. I don’t remember learning to read, but I was given a book for Christmas when I was three, and I still have it, though it’s very much out of date in many ways. (I’m only now learning that I’m neuro-weird, possibly high-functioning autistic, and I’ve been out of step with most people since forever.)

  7. it wipes the name of The Company that owned it from all transcripts and records, replacing it with the generic term, as Dr. Bharadwaj realizes in Network Effect

    It’s somewhat parenthetical to the topic at hand, but the above scene is one of my favourite snippets in a series full of wonderful little scenes. It’s some really clever character motivation and depth done with a bunch of subtle layers.

  8. Very good essay.

    It will be interesting to see if Apple manage to capture the dual nature of Murderbot. I wonder if they’ll have Murderbot narrating through out and if so will Skarsgård also voice the narration or if Murderbot’s interior voice will be different.

  9. Canonical description of Murderbot’s appearance is sparse.
    We know it is tall and lean (Mensah’s POV in the short story Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory).
    It does not have genitals or secondary sexual characteristics, including body/facial hair (repeatedly stated)
    It has visible inorganic parts in its arms, legs, chest and back. ART’s Medsystem changes the joins to look more like human augments, removes 2cm of height, adds vellus hair, and extends its head hair by several cm. (Artificial Condition).
    Its facial skin is smooth as it is frequently regenerated due to being shot in the face (System Collapse)

    Word of Martha is that it’s brown:

    I do think of Murderbot as having a medium brown skin tone. I also think of Murderbot as being fairly lean, which is one reason it looks so different when it’s not in the armor, which is designed to look intimidating.

    (Martha’s DW)

    There’s actually a lot more description of its interior workings, see this post:
    Notably, it doesn’t appear to have organic muscles in its arms. Nor in its legs, as when discussing a hostile hypothetically eating its leg, it comments “there’s not a lot of organic tissue on there to eat” (System Collapse). There’s plenty of organic tissue in the large muscles of the thigh in the average human! Muderbot’s organic parts seem to be head and thorax, and a layer of skin over an inorganic chassis (although apparently not extending to its feet).

    So there’s not any need for MB to have a human-male level of androgens (needs to be strong > large muscles > androgens > looks male), because the chain is (needs to be strong > inorganic skeleton and “connectors” rather than human bone and musculature). The combination of no facial hair and smooth skin probably means in the face it looks femme, very young, or both (and Skarsgaard is too old…)

    Any tall, athletic actor of any gender could have played MB as long as there was no visible beard/breasts/etc so it is kind of disappointing that a blond, afaik cisgender white action-hero-looking male was cast.

    I saw a comment on social media once “Murderbot’s gender is ‘SecUnit'” and it definitely does not want to be ‘misgendered’ as a ComfortUnit. I don’t recall it ever being (mis)gendered as male, but its “Security Consultant Rin” persona uses she/her pronouns, and Amena jokingly dubs it “Third Mom” (Amena already having two moms and one non-binary parent, so “Second Parent” was an option).

  10. I have always imagined Sanctuary Moon as a mashup of Deep Space Nine and Grey’s Anatomy. If Apple does not have screen-in-screen scenes from Sanctuary Moon playing during times when MB is “bored,” it will be a wasted opportunity.

  11. @Aspen:

    I have always imagined Sanctuary Moon as a mashup of Deep Space Nine and Grey’s Anatomy.

    I’ve always pictured it as an extended K-Drama or C-Drama

    If Apple does not have screen-in-screen scenes from Sanctuary Moon playing during times when MB is “bored,” it will be a wasted opportunity.


  12. Martha Wells’ “Murderbot” series, analyzed by Robin Anne Reid, challenges conventional notions of identity and representation. Murderbot’s fluid identity, rejection of gender norms, and neurodivergence contribute to a rich exploration of autonomy and agency. By subverting traditional gender roles and embracing diversity, Wells prompts readers to reconsider preconceptions and celebrate difference, making the series a compelling and thought-provoking journey through science fiction.

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