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Wells, Martha

Entry updated 25 March 2024. Tagged: Author.

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(1964-    ) US author most of whose career has been dedicated to fantasy [a highly selected Checklist appears below], beginning with the Ile-Rien sequence whose first volume, The Element of Fire (1993; rev 2006), applies some tropes from the Fantasy of Manners toolkit [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] to colour in a tale of Magic. The second series in the overall sequence, the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy beginning with The Wizard Hunters (2003), brings inter-dimensional conflicts into play. Of sf interest are some Ties, two to the Stargate: Atlantis sequence (see Atlantis), and Razor's Edge (2013), tied to the Star Wars universe.

Of more direct sf interest is the Murderbot Diaries series beginning with All Systems Red (2017), featuring a humanoid Robot-cum-Cyborg special operative involved in interplanetary cases from its most regular base on Preservation Station (see Space Stations); the narrative, which is first-person, is light in tone, though harsh background realities – debt-Slavery is accepted in this brave new world – threaten occasionally to immerse the reader. The self-named Murderbot is foul-mouthed, ornery, insecure and strangely likable; having hacked its "governor module" it is no longer subject to behavioural constraints and has a low opinion of humanity (with distinct exceptions) yet regularly risks its existence to save human lives. All Systems Red won a Locus Award, a Nebula and a Hugo as best novella. Artificial Condition (2018), second in the sequence, introduces Murderbot's one nonhuman friend – the AI Spaceship ART – and also won a Hugo and Locus Award as best novella; the same year saw two more novellas, Rogue Protocol (2018) and Exit Strategy (2018). The full-length Network Effect (2020) adroitly enriches the sequence, and won a further Hugo, Locus Award and Nebula as best novel; also in 2021, the Murderbot Diaries received an additional Hugo for best series. The next instalment in publication order, the locked-Space Habitat murder mystery Fugitive Telemetry (2021), was withdrawn by the author from the Nebula novella finalists but won a further Locus Award as best novella. Again novel-length, System Collapse (2023) is set on an indentured colony planet under the harsh efforts of the tentacular Barish-Estranza corporation to exploit it unto death, and is a direct sequel to Network Effect in which Murderbot and ART must also deal with trauma and redacted memory (see Memory Edit) resulting from that book's events. [JC]

see also: Worldcon.

Martha Susan Wells

born Fort Worth, Texas: 1 September 1964

works (highly selected)



Ile-Rien: The Fall of Ile-Rien

Stargate Atlantis

Star Wars

Murderbot Diaries

  • All Systems Red (New York:, 2017) [Murderbot Diaries: pb/Jaime Jones]
  • Artificial Condition (New York:, 2018) [Murderbot Diaries: pb/Jaime Jones]
  • Rogue Protocol (New York:, 2018) [Murderbot Diaries: pb/Jaime Jones]
  • Exit Strategy (New York:, 2018) [Murderbot Diaries: pb/Jaime Jones]
  • Network Effect (New York:, 2020) [Murderbot Diaries: hb/Jaime Jones]
  • Fugitive Telemetry (New York: Tordotcom, 2021) [Murderbot Diaries: hb/Jaime Jones]
  • System Collapse (New York: Tordotcom, 2023) [Murderbot Diaries: hb/Jaime Jones]

individual titles


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