System Collapse, a novella by Martha Wells, is a satisfying sequel and could readily serve as the triumphant cap to the Murderbot Diaries series, if it ends here.
Immediately (chronologically) on the heels of Network Effect, System Collapse explores the aftermath of the changing circumstances of both the colonized (contaminated) planet and the developing relationships of the cyborg-like construct (privately known as Murderbot) with the sentient spaceship ART, and its crew.
Murderbot is having (surprise!) a new existential crisis while (of course) kicking butt and begrudgingly taking names.
I love the exploration of both Murderbot’s personal and interpersonal growth and the worldbuilding revealed through the circumstances the characters find themselves in — a decreasingly oblique series of conflicts with the encroaching, mercenary corporates. We’ve seen the nastiness of corporate warfare and manipulation in previous books, but this is the first time we’re seeing it from the urgent angle of how the planets’ relative innocents are at risk of getting press-ganged. Murderbot’s love of media provides an unexpected edge, in spite of all its anxieties, and we get more perspectives and reflections on the plight of not just our loveable grump but other constructs.