We've Got the Exclusive Cover Reveal and Opening Lines of Martha Wells' Murderbot Novel, Network Effect

A crop of the Network Effect cover
A crop of the Network Effect cover
Image: Jaime Jones/Christine Foltzer (Tor.com Publishing)

Martha Wells’ Hugo- and Nebula-winning Murderbot Diaries novella series, which kicked off with 2017's All Systems Red, is reaching a milestone next year with its fifth entry: the first Murderbot novel. It’s titled Network Effect, and though it won’t be out until May 2020, we’ve got an exclusive peek right here.


First up, here’s the full cover; the art is by Jaime Jones and it’s designed by Christine Foltzer.

Illustration for article titled We've Got the Exclusive Cover Reveal and Opening Lines of Martha Wells' Murderbot Novel, Network Effect

And here’s a brief description, written from Murderbot’s inimitable POV:

I’m usually alone in my head, and that’s where 90 plus percent of my problems are.

It calls itself Murderbot, but only when no-one can hear. It’s a private joke. Funny.

It doesn’t care, it tells itself, and its attachment to the humans around it is merely professional obligation.

It tries to never drop the F-bomb.



So, when its human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action.

Drastic action it is, then.

Another F-bomb.



And here’s the excerpt! These are the opening lines to Network Effect.

I’ve had clients who thought they needed an absurd level of security. (And I’m talking absurd even by my standards, and my code was developed by a bond company known for intense xenophobic paranoia, tempered only by desperate greed.) I’ve also had clients who thought they didn’t need any security at all, right up until something ate them. (That’s mostly a metaphor. My uneaten client stat is high.)

Dr. Arada, who is what her marital partner Overse calls a “terminal optimist,” was somewhere in the comfortable middle zone. Dr. Thiago was firmly in the “let’s investigate the dark cave without that pesky SecUnit” group. Which was why Arada was pressed against the wall next to the hatch to the open observation deck with her palms sweating on the stock of a projectile weapon and Thiago was standing out on said observation deck, trying to reason with a potential target. (That’s “potential” per the earlier conversation where Dr. Arada said Oh SecUnit, I wish you wouldn’t call people “targets” and Thiago had given me the look that usually means it just wants an excuse to kill someone.

But then, that was before the Potential Targets started to brandish their own large projectile weapon collection.


Anyway, those are the kind of things I think about while I’m swimming under a raider vessel that’s attempting to board our sea research facility.

Excerpt from Network Effect by Martha Wells reprinted by permission. Copyright Tor.com Publishing.


Network Effect is out May 5, 2020; you can pre-order it right here.

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io9 News Editor, here since 2016. Previously SF Bay Guardian newspaper (RIP), SFSU (MA, Cinema Studies), member of the SF Bay Area Film Critics Circle, big fan of horror, metal, and verrry small dogs.



Oh hell yes. I love the Murderbot stories, but since I usually listen to the audiobooks, I have a hard time spending an Audible credit on a “book” that’s just over 3 hours long. Can’t wait until...(looks back at above story)...Dammit! May of next year.