Hot Best Seller

Activation Degradation

Availability: Ready to download

The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra. When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphe The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra. When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphere—is activated for the first time, it’s in crisis mode. Aliens are attacking the Helium-3 mine it was created to oversee, and now its sole purpose is to defend Earth’s largest energy resource from the invaders in ship-to-ship combat. But something’s wrong. Unit Four doesn’t feel quite right. There are files in its databanks it can’t account for, unusual chemical combinations roaring through its pipes, and the primers it possesses on the aliens are suspiciously sparse. The robot is under orders to seek and destroy. That’s all it knows. According to its handler, that’s all it needs to know. Determined to fulfill its directives, Unit Four launches its ship and goes on the attack, but it has no idea it’s about to get caught in a downward spiral of misinformation, reprograming, and interstellar conflict. Most robots are simple tools. Unit Four is well on its way to becoming something more....


Compare

The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra. When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphe The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four, from Marina Lostetter, critically acclaimed author of Noumenon, Noumenon Infinity, and Noumenon Ultra. When Unit Four—a biological soft robot built and stored high above the Jovian atmosphere—is activated for the first time, it’s in crisis mode. Aliens are attacking the Helium-3 mine it was created to oversee, and now its sole purpose is to defend Earth’s largest energy resource from the invaders in ship-to-ship combat. But something’s wrong. Unit Four doesn’t feel quite right. There are files in its databanks it can’t account for, unusual chemical combinations roaring through its pipes, and the primers it possesses on the aliens are suspiciously sparse. The robot is under orders to seek and destroy. That’s all it knows. According to its handler, that’s all it needs to know. Determined to fulfill its directives, Unit Four launches its ship and goes on the attack, but it has no idea it’s about to get caught in a downward spiral of misinformation, reprograming, and interstellar conflict. Most robots are simple tools. Unit Four is well on its way to becoming something more....

30 review for Activation Degradation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    4.25 Stars. This was really good! When I saw this this was supposed to be Murderbot-ish, plus the fact that I just love sci-fi, I realized I had pretty high hopes this would be a good fit for me. While this has a bit of a similar feel to Murderbot, it is definitely different enough that is feels fresh and not just a copy. I think Murderbot fans will really enjoy this, but I also believe sci-fi fans, that like a good humanity and found family type story, will too. The writing is really good. The 4.25 Stars. This was really good! When I saw this this was supposed to be Murderbot-ish, plus the fact that I just love sci-fi, I realized I had pretty high hopes this would be a good fit for me. While this has a bit of a similar feel to Murderbot, it is definitely different enough that is feels fresh and not just a copy. I think Murderbot fans will really enjoy this, but I also believe sci-fi fans, that like a good humanity and found family type story, will too. The writing is really good. The book is about 500 pages and I only stopped once because it was 3am and I had to sleep. There are some slower parts, but there are good action moments and just interesting scenes that really keep the story moving. I think it is a testament to Lostetter’s writing that I was hooked even during the slower parts. There was only one small part, of one action scene, that I had a little trouble imagining, but other than that, everything was very clear and the book played out like a movie in front of my eyes. Speaking of movies, I could see this making a good movie or limited series, but it 100% works very well for a book too. I was really happy with how LGBTQ+ friendly this book was. There were intersex, nonbinary, pansexual, and gay characters and I might even be leaving someone out as there are a few side characters that I lost track of a bit. There is a side m/m relationship and there is an f/nb romance. This romance is very light, and just at the real beginning stages, but it was sweet and I was rooting for them as a potential couple. There is a lot more that I would love to talk about but this story has a lot of twists and turns. And just when you think you might have it figured out, Lostetter says ‘no way!’ I really enjoyed the sci-fi mystery of this book and I thought it was well written and fun. This is a standalone book but I would absolutely read another book or even novella in this world. TLDR: A really good LGBTQ+ friendly sci-fi read. Lostetter writes really well and it is easy to stay engaged even during the slower moments. Lots of fun twists and turns, and a main character that is very easy to like. Murderbot fans should really enjoy this, but I think most sci-fi fans will too. If this author writes more LGBTQ+ friendly sci-fi, I would absolutely read it. An ARC was given to me for a review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Books with Brittany

    4.5⭐️ Oh wow, I loved this. I will be recommending this to so many readers!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    This was an amazing sci-fi adventure! Loved every bit of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    Well this was awesome!

  5. 5 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    How to even begin to describe this book? It's definitely Murderbot mixed with first contact with a heavy dash of body horror à la Hurley's The Stars Are Legion, and from there it's its very own being, filled with the horrors of space, the horrors of humanity, and the rising and falling implications of the reverberations of the past continuing to slam dunk on the present. It was a bit slow to start (just like Unit Four/Aimsley's activation period), but I really, really enjoyed it, and I hope that t How to even begin to describe this book? It's definitely Murderbot mixed with first contact with a heavy dash of body horror à la Hurley's The Stars Are Legion, and from there it's its very own being, filled with the horrors of space, the horrors of humanity, and the rising and falling implications of the reverberations of the past continuing to slam dunk on the present. It was a bit slow to start (just like Unit Four/Aimsley's activation period), but I really, really enjoyed it, and I hope that there will be a sequel (even though it wraps things up nicely). Full review on my blog, The Suspected Bibliophile I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bender

    https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/06/02/re... First of all, this book is nothing like the Muderbot Diaries (referred in blurb) other than the fact we have Cyborg (?) MCs. If you’re looking at a Murderbot’esque read, this is not it. This book offers something unique on it’s own which got muddled (initially) because of that reference. The book just throws you right in the middle of action from Page 1. We have a just (and incorrectly) reconstituted Unit 4 waking up on a mining station which is being attac https://fanfiaddict.com/2021/06/02/re... First of all, this book is nothing like the Muderbot Diaries (referred in blurb) other than the fact we have Cyborg (?) MCs. If you’re looking at a Murderbot’esque read, this is not it. This book offers something unique on it’s own which got muddled (initially) because of that reference. The book just throws you right in the middle of action from Page 1. We have a just (and incorrectly) reconstituted Unit 4 waking up on a mining station which is being attacked by Invaders. We follow Unit 4 as it tries to orient itself not just to the ‘grogginess’ of premature waking up but also to the crappy tactical situation it is waking up to. The battle scenes are vividly done and the prose actually put me in the shoes of Unit 4. Very realistic! The plot progresses as we get to know details of the dynamics of the immediate battle from Unit 4’s discussions with it’s handlers and the overall macro world opens up nicely. It’s done very organically and though there are a few info dumps the book does not suffer for them. The way the book plot is structured makes it hard to write a review without spoiler-ing the whole shebang, but let’s just say Unit 4’s decisions leads it to a new journey of discovery that will rock both itself and the reader to the core. I managed to predict few of the twists, but then the author still successfully pulled the rug from out under me closer to the climax. Interesting turn of events, to say in the least! Whereas Murderbot is more charming and fun, Unit Four is a more realistic and gritty. We get to see it on the back foot from the get go as it tried to get a handle on a shitty tactical situation it woke up to and then we see it struggling to keep its head up as the events and their implications spiral out of context and control. The human elements in the plot though done well had a Hollywood-y convenient feel to it and without having the time for natural progression. I had a similar impression with the climax too. It had the feel of a movie script. Not that it’s bad, but just didn’t have a take I found novel. Overall, I had a good time reading it. If you’re looking for a space drama with action, this should be in your TBR!

  7. 5 out of 5

    iam

    I was utterly captivated by this twisting adventure of Unit Four, a robot who's only a few hours old when its entire existence is thrown off-balance. Content warnings: include: violence, drugging, non-explicit sex scene between side characters, radiation, death; mentions of: murder, cannibalism, climate change, mass extinction, slavery. Nothing is at it seems in this book. Every couple chapters both Unit Four's and the reader's view of what is real and true is realigned completely, shifting in s I was utterly captivated by this twisting adventure of Unit Four, a robot who's only a few hours old when its entire existence is thrown off-balance. Content warnings: include: violence, drugging, non-explicit sex scene between side characters, radiation, death; mentions of: murder, cannibalism, climate change, mass extinction, slavery. Nothing is at it seems in this book. Every couple chapters both Unit Four's and the reader's view of what is real and true is realigned completely, shifting in such tremendous ways that left me stunned and feel for Unit Four as it experiences all this with no support system to fall back on. I loved the way the worldbuilding worked that way, even though it wasn't always easy to follow along, especially in the beginning, before Unit Four's vocabulary becomes more similar to the average reader's. My favourite part was definitely the way the plot twists and deliberately plays with the reader's expectations based on the given information. It's masterfully written from Unit Four's perspective - we only ever see the world through its eyes, and what it finds normal, and I loved both the moments when we could see how outside information changes its view, and the moments when it finally clicked for me what the things it describes mean in our terms, even if it doesn't have a concept to understand them yet. The cast is rather limited, and truthfully nothing out of the ordinary, but nevertheless a delight to read about. I greatly enjoyed Unit Four, and felt for it constantly, and through its eyes I learned to be intrigued by the other characters as well, and care for them. I also greatly enjoyed the polyamorous and intersex rep. While Activation Degradation is very different from The Murderbot Diaries that it is likened to, I can see why the two are compared. Unit Four and Murderbot are very different characters (and might not get along very well if they met) but both books are about artifically constructed people stumbling into situations completely outside of their programmed parameters and being forced to adapt and take measures to protect that what is dear to them. I love these sort of POVs, so if you like reading from the views of robots or aliens, this is definitely a book for you. I received an ARC and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/11/15/... The publisher description compares Activation Degradation to The Murderbot Diaries, which is quite ambitious, to say the least. But how does that really stack up? Well, let’s just say I despise blurbs like these for a reason, mainly because they have a way of raising undue expectations and setting readers up for disappointment, not to mention that, more often than not, they tend to diminish the books themselves. Personal 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/11/15/... The publisher description compares Activation Degradation to The Murderbot Diaries, which is quite ambitious, to say the least. But how does that really stack up? Well, let’s just say I despise blurbs like these for a reason, mainly because they have a way of raising undue expectations and setting readers up for disappointment, not to mention that, more often than not, they tend to diminish the books themselves. Personally, Activation Degradation did not feel anything like Murderbot to me, but honestly, that’s not a bad thing. Although it also features a cyborg protagonist, the story itself is uniquely its own and offers something different. Readers are thrown into the action right away, as the book opens with an alien attack on an orbital helium-3 mine above the planet Jupiter where the defender bot known as Unit Four was being stored, triggering its activation. The sudden switch is disorienting, but with the help of its handler, Unit Four is able to fend off the invaders and protect its home and its precious cargo. However, its actions ultimately lead it to become captured, though it has protocols in place for dealing these kinds of situations too. Following its orders, Unit Four is prepared to lay low and observe the enemy while awaiting retrieval by its handler, whose arrival should be imminent. What Unit Four did not expect though, is to have its entire worldview blown apart. The enemies are not as they have been described to it by its handlers, and nothing in its databanks can resolve this discrepancy nor any of the new information it is receiving now from its captors. All of it can be a lie, of course, but somehow Unit Four doesn’t think so. The sudden realization that it may have been deceived its entire short life sends shock overloading its systems, but at least now Unit Four knows it has an even more important mission. Its sister-units are still under the control of their makers, unaware of the truth, and in order to free them, Unit Four must also save everyone on the ship before time runs out. One reason I love reading books about A.I. or robot protagonists is being able to experience a whole different point of view. These characters, the best ones at least, should be relatable but also sound distinctly “robot-like” to make them stand out from their human counterparts. That is, after all, why I love Murderbot, whose personality is quirky enough to feel “other” but still familiar enough to be charming and appealing. Bringing this back to Activation Degradation though, Unit Four is definitely a more simplistic character, because it is also a more emotional one. While this in itself is not a negative, I certainly hadn’t expected to suspend my disbelief so much when it came to Unit Four’s plausibility as a cyborg protagonist. On its surface, Activation Degradation also reads very much like an action sci-fi thriller. I’ve read one other book by Marina J. Lostetter before this, which was the moody, broody dark fantasy mystery The Helm of Midnight, and it’s a testament to the author’s versatility, I suppose, that this one felt completely different. For one, the story moved at a breakneck pace that just wouldn’t let up, with info dumping kept to a minimal. The prose was also lighter and more readable, creating an energetic and entertaining atmosphere that’s obviously geared more towards mass appeal. I’m sure it comes as no surprise when I say this was by far a much more fun book to read. Still, there was a lot going on in this story too, and perhaps not enough time to fully explore the themes and topics the author wanted to bring attention to. A major twist was also telegraphed too early, spoiling a couple of the plot’s biggest surprises, though that might just be due to the way I approached the book by overthinking things. Needless to say, this is a novel best experienced with no expectations; simply enjoy this one as an action-adventure story, let it whisk you away and treat any allusions to deeper philosophical messages as a nice bonus. All told, I would consider this for your TBR if you’re into thrilling adventure sci-fi that explores the themes of artificial intelligence and what it means to be human, though Murderbot fans please treat what’s written in the publisher’s blurb with a grain of salt. Overall a solid novel that combines the excitement of space escapades with the complexities of human drama.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meagan ✊🏼 Blacklivesmatter ✊🏼Blacktranslivesmatter

    I just read the sample and it's soooo GOOD. The problem is I'm not going to be able to finish it. The audiobook narrator is not for me 🙅🏽‍♀️. My library doesn't have it on ebook (I don't want to get physical copies yet because of covid) and I don't usually buy books before I read them 😭😭😭 ugh what to do, what to do? I just read the sample and it's soooo GOOD. The problem is I'm not going to be able to finish it. The audiobook narrator is not for me 🙅🏽‍♀️. My library doesn't have it on ebook (I don't want to get physical copies yet because of covid) and I don't usually buy books before I read them 😭😭😭 ugh what to do, what to do?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Traveling Cloak

    Activation Degradation is well-known author Marina J. Lostetter’s latest published novel, and I found it to be a really interesting story. Dubbed as “The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact…”, I only found a tertiary connection to the famous cyborg. Honestly, though, it does not need the comparison, as the story is able to stand on its own two feet. The main character in this book is Unit Four: a robot designed to protect interstellar mining operations that currently serve planet Earth and its Activation Degradation is well-known author Marina J. Lostetter’s latest published novel, and I found it to be a really interesting story. Dubbed as “The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact…”, I only found a tertiary connection to the famous cyborg. Honestly, though, it does not need the comparison, as the story is able to stand on its own two feet. The main character in this book is Unit Four: a robot designed to protect interstellar mining operations that currently serve planet Earth and its people. What makes Unit Four so different from most of the robots/cyborgs/AIs that reside in many recent science fiction novels is that, while oftentimes the robotic units in question have complete access to all the information they can handle (which is pretty much everything), Unit Four’s access seems to be limited. Thus, when its mission goes awry and it is captured by aliens who do not seem to fit within its knowledge base, it does not really know what to do. I like the premise a lot, because it sets up a situation where beings from different sides of town (“town” being “the Universe”) are put in a situation where they are forced to learn to understand one another. That is a big theme of the story, and I love the way it was addressed. The “first contact” nature of it actually reminded me of another book I finished recently called A Psalm for the Wild Built. Activation Degradation overall isn’t quite as calm and meditative as all that, but it is the idea of meeting someone so different from you and trying to see the world through their eyes that makes the plots of the two books somewhat synonymous (while also being incredibly different), and this theme really appeals to me. I could have used a bit more of an action-y plot in certain areas, as there were times the narrative felt a little flat to me. But, Lostetter balances that out by creating intrigue in other ways, so I will not complain too much about that aspect. The other drawback in my opinion is that I felt certain plot points could have used more development. A few times I felt like certain events just kind of became important pieces of the story, and I think there was room to add some depth. Overall, I really liked Activation Degradation. Lostetter’s take on the future of technology and how it intertwines with the existence of organic life is really thought-provoking and unique. I definitely recommend this book for fans of sci-fi

  11. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four. 👀👀 Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram The Murderbot Diaries makes first contact in this new, futuristic, standalone novel exploring sentience and artificial intelligence through the lenses of conflicted robot hero Unit Four. 👀👀 Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    AMS Unit 4 is a biomechanical bot whose sole purpose is to keep its helium-3 mine functional for Earth. After a battle with the "aliens," Four is taken hostage on the ship, and its life will never be the same. Activation Degradation was a beautiful book. I don't even know how to properly describe how much I enjoyed it. There's so much going on, and it was so fast paced, I finished this almost 500 page book in only two days. There are morally gray characters, possibly evil characters that go soft, AMS Unit 4 is a biomechanical bot whose sole purpose is to keep its helium-3 mine functional for Earth. After a battle with the "aliens," Four is taken hostage on the ship, and its life will never be the same. Activation Degradation was a beautiful book. I don't even know how to properly describe how much I enjoyed it. There's so much going on, and it was so fast paced, I finished this almost 500 page book in only two days. There are morally gray characters, possibly evil characters that go soft, and a ton of diversity. There's not one but TWO intersex characters in this novel! I was lucky enough to read this advanced review copy from Net Galley, but I will be picking up a hard copy as soon as it's available on September 28th. CW: gaslighting, panic attacks, blood & gore

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    The publishers do this book and its narrator no favors by comparing it to The Murderbot Diaries. I love The Murderbot Diaries, but Murderbot and Unit Four do not have much in common. Murderbot is a snarky, jaded, depressed, and anxious Millennial; Unit Four is a naive pre-teen that has been homeschooled in a remote village. I found Activation Degradation slow starting, filled with a lot more technobabble than The Murderbot Diaries, and containing a lot less humor. However, I don’t want to just ta The publishers do this book and its narrator no favors by comparing it to The Murderbot Diaries. I love The Murderbot Diaries, but Murderbot and Unit Four do not have much in common. Murderbot is a snarky, jaded, depressed, and anxious Millennial; Unit Four is a naive pre-teen that has been homeschooled in a remote village. I found Activation Degradation slow starting, filled with a lot more technobabble than The Murderbot Diaries, and containing a lot less humor. However, I don’t want to just talk about Activation Degradation in comparison to The Murderbot Diaries. The book I was reminded of most was The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. Lots of crew interaction with a newcomer. Representation (m/m couple; intersex human, and nonbinary robot, although the robot has “junk,” and a romance with a female crew member seemed to be brewing). I rounded up one full star for the presence of a cat. I enjoyed the crew interaction and Unit Four’s growth; I was skeptical (view spoiler)[of the magical space flower and of the evil machines taking over Earth (hide spoiler)] . I enjoyed reading it but am not sure I’ll read a sequel, and I feel quite sure I won’t find myself re-reading it the way I reread The Murderbot Diaries. I read an advance reader copy of Activation Degradation from Netgalley.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nore

    Gotta be honest: Comparing this to Murderbot is a disservice to Murderbot and a blatant marketing ploy, and that really knocks a star off for me. "Vaguely similar because it's also about an android" is not "it's Murderbot but with aliens!" The concept is a banger, but it's pretty obvious what the AMS is within a few pages; the worldbuilding is interesting on the face of it, but there's more attention paid to the burgeoning relationship between Maya and the AMS unit than what exactly happened to t Gotta be honest: Comparing this to Murderbot is a disservice to Murderbot and a blatant marketing ploy, and that really knocks a star off for me. "Vaguely similar because it's also about an android" is not "it's Murderbot but with aliens!" The concept is a banger, but it's pretty obvious what the AMS is within a few pages; the worldbuilding is interesting on the face of it, but there's more attention paid to the burgeoning relationship between Maya and the AMS unit than what exactly happened to the Earth, which is hilarious because the AMS unit is literally asexual in the sense of has no internal or external sex organs, so I'm a bit confused as to how it can feel aroused in the first place. (Plus: One of the things I like about Murderbot is the focus on platonic relationships.) The horrific aspects of the ships were intriguing, but again, they were pretty well glossed over in favor of "Jonas gets grumpy at the AMS unit again" or "Maya makes eyes at the robot." The final big bad is..... Honestly, it was goofy! It was just silly!!! Also, spoilers ahead, why are they so reliant on delicate machinery so far from the Earth when (view spoiler)[THEY ARE HYPERINTELLIGENT MACHINES CAPABLE OF TAKING OVER THE EARTH. C'MON. You aren't going to tell me they were so reliant on the mine that 1/3 of the population are going to die without it and they had zero back-up plans after what happened to the humans who wiped themselves out! How big is their population that they need THAT much energy? How is that sustainable? What are they even doing with that energy? Are they building new ships? If so, out of what? With what materials? And why? If they aren't building new ships, what takes SO MUCH ENERGY? Oh blah blah the humans can't come back because they abandoned the planet after ruining it with overpopulation and pollution, so clearly we are the superior stewards, oh oops 1/3 of us are going to die because we are entirely reliant on one single station. There are no back-up stations or failsafes in place. We Are Very Smart. The AI never even gives a compelling reason as to why they decided to restore the environment. (hide spoiler)] Just - lots of very plot convenient happenings to drive some moral hand-wringing that I didn't find interesting or particularly compelling. ALSO also, (view spoiler)[how does the soft machinery of the station's inner workings not die of radiation poisoning within a few months?? Aimsley never mentions that they replace any of the panels, only the ships and the bots. Why! Even if you can endlessly replace the panels, that is SO inefficient versus a metal panel you install once and never worry about again! Again, We Are Very Smart. (hide spoiler)] And one final thing, I swear. I'm sorry to complain so much. But please. It's been literally thousands of years since the humans set out in their fancy spaceships, and despite this, in our year of the crystal xx021 or whatever, they are still using the exact same pride flags that modern day humans use as decorations. No joke. I'm dead serious. It was such a ham-fisted way to cram in representation in a book where the characters are already open about their identities, so unnecessary that it threw me out of the book. One of the characters goes on to talk about pronoun declarations and gender confirmations like it's totally normal, so clearly queer folk are no longer marginalized... So why the flags??? I couldn't stop thinking about it! God forbid one of the characters had been a lesbian, because I would have loved to see which flag she went with - using any of them is a cancelable offense in some circle or other, so she dodged a bullet there. Anyway, 2/5 stars, I didn't hate it but I was very glad to be done with it. I don't get the hype! Her writing isn't even anything special - she does that thing where she gives lines she wants to emphasize their own paragraph, which gets tedious after a few dozen pages.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lauren loves llamas

    Oh, hello, blurb that barely scratches the surface of this book. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting in to with this book, but it was exactly what I needed right now. At its heart, it’s a book about found family, about finding the people who love you even when you mess up, who love you for who you are and not what you can do for them. “It had a job to do. It wanted to do its job. It wanted to pilot the boat, defeat the aliens, earn its handler’s praise, and then live out the rest of its acti Oh, hello, blurb that barely scratches the surface of this book. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting in to with this book, but it was exactly what I needed right now. At its heart, it’s a book about found family, about finding the people who love you even when you mess up, who love you for who you are and not what you can do for them. “It had a job to do. It wanted to do its job. It wanted to pilot the boat, defeat the aliens, earn its handler’s praise, and then live out the rest of its activation period in whatever state of being was exactly the opposite of this go go go go. It had been awake for less than fifteen minutes and already it longed to rest.” Autonomous Maintenance System Unit 4 is not having a good day. Freshly reconstituted during an attack on the mining platform around Jupiter that it calls home, Unit 4 is immediately sent off to fight the aliens that are dismantling pieces of the station. Something isn’t right, with Unit 4 or the aliens, but it sets off on its suicide mission anyway. After all, it’s a robot designed to do its job, so it’ll do the best job it can. But this attack – and its aftermath – have more ramifications than Unit 4 can possibly have imagined. Angry and confused, will Unit 4 take the chance to become more than it was intended to be? “But what’s happening here, between all of us, could change everything. I know it could.” This is one of those books it’s hard to talk about without getting into spoilers. The plot twists are interesting, and in at least one case for me, highly unexpected. While you’re thrown right into the middle of the action, the beginning is a bit slow but quickly accelerates once the reader understands exactly what’s at stake – even if Unit 4 doesn’t. While there’s a decent amount of action, the heart of the story is the characters and the relationships they build, especially Unit 4’s. “Why look after the soul of a thing if you’ve trained it to believe it has no soul?” The blurb specifically compares this to Murderbot, which I can see on a surface level. There’s the focus on found family, but the tone is very different from Murderbot’s sarcasm and cynicism. Unit 4, instead, spends much of the book confused and frightened. There are so many lines in the book that start with “It didn’t know what to do” and, wow, after this past year, I empathized so much with that. One of Unit 4’s first actions after being reconstituted is “decommissioning” one of its counterparts when it’s injured, complete with a wash of feelings that it doesn’t understand. From that moment on I spent a good chunk of the book just wanting to wrap it in a warm blanket and give it a hug. All Unit 4 wants to do is complete the job it’s been programmed to do and its slow awakening to the realities of what that job entails, of its purpose, were both intensely heartbreaking and heartwarming. Much like Unit 4, the reader slowly gets the feeling that something isn’t quite right, and then gets hit with the horrifying clue-stick long before the character does. A good part of the emotional weight of the book is anticipating how Unit 4 will react to those revelations – and how the characters around Unit 4 will react to it. Speaking of those characters, it’s casually queer (space is gay, folks), with characters with nonbinary pronouns, a m/m couple and an intersex person. There’s a sweet romantic element, too, just delightfully gentle in the way it was woven in. Overall, an easy 4.5 stars, and definitely a book I’ll be recommending. While the main plot is wrapped up neatly, I’m hoping for a sequel as this is definitely a universe I’d like to explore more of! Content notes: (view spoiler)[violence (gore and murder), body horror, cannibalism (discussed), slavery, suicidal ideation, panic attack (on page) (hide spoiler)] I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bertie (LuminosityLibrary)

    Activation Degradation is a thrilling science-fiction read that has a fresh new take on the topic of artificial intelligence. This book feels like Murderbot’s gritty cousin with an A.I. main character who’s struggling to figure out who they are and what they want to be. It also features one of my favourite tropes – uncovering secrets that change everything you know about the world. Would recommend it to people who enjoy sci-fi thrillers that focus on humanity and sentient responsibility. Thanks Activation Degradation is a thrilling science-fiction read that has a fresh new take on the topic of artificial intelligence. This book feels like Murderbot’s gritty cousin with an A.I. main character who’s struggling to figure out who they are and what they want to be. It also features one of my favourite tropes – uncovering secrets that change everything you know about the world. Would recommend it to people who enjoy sci-fi thrillers that focus on humanity and sentient responsibility. Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review Follow me on my Blog, Twitter, and Instagram.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Arien

    4 stars. There's a lot to like in this book. The world building, the main character and its growth throughout the story, the overarching message. The book also surprised me several times, which is rare these days, a true joy for the mind. But then the middle of the book felt stagnant to me. The main character's dilemma and its interactions with the outside world kept playing out the same scenarios several times, and it got tedious. The story also lost some of the urgency that was established ear 4 stars. There's a lot to like in this book. The world building, the main character and its growth throughout the story, the overarching message. The book also surprised me several times, which is rare these days, a true joy for the mind. But then the middle of the book felt stagnant to me. The main character's dilemma and its interactions with the outside world kept playing out the same scenarios several times, and it got tedious. The story also lost some of the urgency that was established earlier because of this. So while each individual part of the story hits on all the right notes, the sum of them feels... perhaps not badly paced, but the pacing and the balance could've been better. It's really hard to talk about this story without spoiling it, so if you're a LGBTQ+ friendly sci-fi fan, definitely give this a go.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I was so excited to win this on a GR giveaway! Another sf book about what is personhood, in this biologically based robot made in a vat. Or is it a robot? It’s created to work on a Jupiter energy mine that supplies a lot of the energy needed on earth for the humans to survive. At least that’s what Unit4 believes until presented by alternative truths by humans invading the mine. Or are they human? Are they bots just like her reprogrammed by aliens? What is the truth and how do you find it when 2 I was so excited to win this on a GR giveaway! Another sf book about what is personhood, in this biologically based robot made in a vat. Or is it a robot? It’s created to work on a Jupiter energy mine that supplies a lot of the energy needed on earth for the humans to survive. At least that’s what Unit4 believes until presented by alternative truths by humans invading the mine. Or are they human? Are they bots just like her reprogrammed by aliens? What is the truth and how do you find it when 2 very believable realities are presented. Unit 4 has to learn how to be a person and learn to trust. The only negative about the book was the ending, where the meaning is spelled out and we didn’t need that. Otherwise a very enjoyable easy read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lex

    What a lovely story! I'm so glad I went in with an open mind rather than listening to all the comparisons - this is entirely its own story and if you go in expecting Murderbot you WILL be disappointed. If you go in expecting weird biotechnology space fighting, you will be THRILLED. Let me lead with the bad: there are definitely parts of this that get a little over the top monologue-y about the nature of sentience and independent choices. There's a bit near the beginning where I got just a bit tir What a lovely story! I'm so glad I went in with an open mind rather than listening to all the comparisons - this is entirely its own story and if you go in expecting Murderbot you WILL be disappointed. If you go in expecting weird biotechnology space fighting, you will be THRILLED. Let me lead with the bad: there are definitely parts of this that get a little over the top monologue-y about the nature of sentience and independent choices. There's a bit near the beginning where I got just a bit tired of the endless descriptions of biomechanical systems that somehow managed to still be vague enough that I couldn't quite picture them. Turns out that was very much on purpose and made later imagery way cooler, so I'm very glad I kept going until I hit the first twist (end of Part One, if you're wondering) at which point I was CAUGHT and didn't put down the book again. The good: Everything else. Unit Four is a delight. The crew is a delight. BEES!!!!!! Someone watched Jupiter Ascending and said !!!!!! internally and that person was me and also this author. (It's a minor section, don't worry - JA is great fun but not the vibe this story is going for.) Everything about the sister units. The poor boat. The handler!!!!!!! I cannot put enough exclamation points to describe my feelings about the handler. (I want to make out with it. Don't @ me.) Unit Four faces some very nuanced decisions and handles them with a level of reason that I adore, especially compared to its emotional immaturity. I love how it's kind of sour on the whole "deciding your own fate" thing even as it throws itself full-force into doing just that. Love you, Unit Four. There's a ton of room for this to be a series and I dearly hope it does. If you're worried that means it ends on a sequel-bait hook, worry not: it stands alone perfectly well. I'm deeply grateful to Goodreads Giveaways for the ARC that led to this review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tim Hicks

    It's so unfair to suggest this is Murderbot-like. It has its own unique story arc and a very different focus. If you havent' read it yet please try to enter without expectations. OK, lookit, the setting off Jupiter is good, but we're going to go through a lot of handwaving on the hard SF side, and that's NOT what this book is about so just chill. Our hero is something wildly implausible but somehow sold so we can believe it. We start with Hero even more WTF than the reader, in the middle of an ac It's so unfair to suggest this is Murderbot-like. It has its own unique story arc and a very different focus. If you havent' read it yet please try to enter without expectations. OK, lookit, the setting off Jupiter is good, but we're going to go through a lot of handwaving on the hard SF side, and that's NOT what this book is about so just chill. Our hero is something wildly implausible but somehow sold so we can believe it. We start with Hero even more WTF than the reader, in the middle of an action scene. Narrativium puts Hero on the enemy shp and away we go, as it tries to stay alive, carry out its mission, and most of all understand what the hell is going on here. We readers share the latter. We end up in one of the best "things are not as they seem" and even " *I* am not what I seem," and THAT's the story, the new approach that I really liked. Hated Jonas, thought he was overdrawn, but his plot arc resolved on a credible way so it's all good. Just about lost me with the crystals, but that's balanced by the presence of a cat. Though we never learned where the litter box was. Did I miss the explanation of " files in its databanks it can’t account for" ? Because that sounded as if it would be interesting. I have read one other Lostetter and now I will look for more.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura (crofteereader)

    This did not feel like the 480 pages that Goodreads insists it is. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good: it was a fast-paced read. I only set aside short hours to read it and tore through it. Unit Four's perspective was compelling as it got to experience a life totally different than what it may have known before. The openness and exploration as well as the overall themes were brilliantly handled. The bad: we only really get to see three characters with any real depth, and even that This did not feel like the 480 pages that Goodreads insists it is. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good: it was a fast-paced read. I only set aside short hours to read it and tore through it. Unit Four's perspective was compelling as it got to experience a life totally different than what it may have known before. The openness and exploration as well as the overall themes were brilliantly handled. The bad: we only really get to see three characters with any real depth, and even that started way late. it was a whole lot of talking bookended with action. And the action and the talking were both good and very important, but by keeping them separate, it made the book feel very unbalanced. Fuentes and Buyer (Also Doc but less so) felt more like their jobs than actual people - a few little bits of personality, but because we see everything from an outsider perspective, it's not enough to anchor them. But now I really want to read some of Lostetter's older scifi! {Thank you Harper Voyager for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review; all thoughts are my own}

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karen Parisot

    In orbit around Jupiter is a mine which supplies Earth with vital energy. It’s maintained by a small group of bio-robots. Fresh from the reconstitution pod, Unit Four is called upon to defend this mining platform from invaders. The crew of the invading ship, Violent Delight, has ventured into Jovian space hoping to score some salvage material. It’s Unit Four’s job to stop them. There is so much to recommend this SF novel. It has a great plot, interesting characters, held my interest and even surp In orbit around Jupiter is a mine which supplies Earth with vital energy. It’s maintained by a small group of bio-robots. Fresh from the reconstitution pod, Unit Four is called upon to defend this mining platform from invaders. The crew of the invading ship, Violent Delight, has ventured into Jovian space hoping to score some salvage material. It’s Unit Four’s job to stop them. There is so much to recommend this SF novel. It has a great plot, interesting characters, held my interest and even surprised me. In some ways it reminded me a little of Frankenstein. It’s about climate change, AI, robots, and survival. A clever and original story, wholly engaging, at times disturbing, and all in all a very satisfying read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    William Bentrim

    Activation Degradation by Marina J. Lostetter Aimsley is a robot whose life span is measured in hours and whose job is to keep the power flowing to earth. He discovers that things are not always as they seem. As a morality play this is so thought provoking. The recognition of exactly what life is makes one ponder the Alexa, and the future of AI. Alexa now says thank you and other responses. Is it intelligence or programing. What exactly is life but some kind of programming. Alien invaders need to Activation Degradation by Marina J. Lostetter Aimsley is a robot whose life span is measured in hours and whose job is to keep the power flowing to earth. He discovers that things are not always as they seem. As a morality play this is so thought provoking. The recognition of exactly what life is makes one ponder the Alexa, and the future of AI. Alexa now says thank you and other responses. Is it intelligence or programing. What exactly is life but some kind of programming. Alien invaders need to be more clearly defined for suitable action to be taken. I enjoyed the book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sam S

    Rounded up to 4 stars This was marketed as a read alike if you are a fan of the Murderbot Diaries. I definitely see the similarity, in terms of a humanoid/AI/robot interacting with a human spaceship crew. What it does not replicate is the charm and humour of Murderbot. I did enjoy the story. The plot was unique and interesting. I wish more of the human crew had been fleshed out. I think this would have helped me connect to the characters more. A decent book overall, but I think it was a disservice Rounded up to 4 stars This was marketed as a read alike if you are a fan of the Murderbot Diaries. I definitely see the similarity, in terms of a humanoid/AI/robot interacting with a human spaceship crew. What it does not replicate is the charm and humour of Murderbot. I did enjoy the story. The plot was unique and interesting. I wish more of the human crew had been fleshed out. I think this would have helped me connect to the characters more. A decent book overall, but I think it was a disservice to comp it to Murderbot...I kept waiting for that same feeling.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie Stevens

    I won a ARC of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. First, don't walk, run to the bookstore on September 28th(I think) to get your hands on this book! It was so good! The action was great, the themes were compelling, and the feels! So good! The story is great and writing was phenomenal. I won a ARC of this book from a Goodreads giveaway. First, don't walk, run to the bookstore on September 28th(I think) to get your hands on this book! It was so good! The action was great, the themes were compelling, and the feels! So good! The story is great and writing was phenomenal.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This would have been a higher rating, but the first 50 pages were brutal for me to get through. I liked the ending and the overarching message though.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Simms

    4.5 stars. Lostetter does an excellent job gradually setting up a story where something doesn't feel quite right and parceling out the appropriate answers at just the right pace. The broader worldbuilding is a bit of a tip-of-the-iceberg situation, where a lot is left unexplained, but it's done in a satisfying way, hinting at detail vs. leaving the reader lost as to how such-and-such part of the world makes sense -- our point of view is relatively narrow, so things should remain unknown rather t 4.5 stars. Lostetter does an excellent job gradually setting up a story where something doesn't feel quite right and parceling out the appropriate answers at just the right pace. The broader worldbuilding is a bit of a tip-of-the-iceberg situation, where a lot is left unexplained, but it's done in a satisfying way, hinting at detail vs. leaving the reader lost as to how such-and-such part of the world makes sense -- our point of view is relatively narrow, so things should remain unknown rather than having some sort of infodump, and we get all the things we need to know for the story to work. I don't know if the marketing blurb comparing it to the Murderbot Diaries makes a lot of sense, aside from both having a robotic main character with a peculiar point of view on things (as a result of being a robot). Maybe I'm just biased against that description because I don't like what I've read of Murderbot, and I liked this book a lot. Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Voyager for the ARC.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shona

    Very strange marketing. Not as polished (or complicated) as her usual fare, but interesting, and readable. An unusual First Contact book, and interesting from that perspective. They should *not* have said Murderbot at all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Howley

    Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book from the author via Twitter in exchange for an honest review. First time I've ever gotten to write THAT which is exciting enough as it is, but also brand new sci-fi! From the author of my favorite sci-fi! Like Noumenon, this book starts in familiar solar system territory, though an unspecified amount of time in the future. Our hero is a highly advanced humanoid Android, who understands that its entire purpose is to serve the orbital energy faci Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book from the author via Twitter in exchange for an honest review. First time I've ever gotten to write THAT which is exciting enough as it is, but also brand new sci-fi! From the author of my favorite sci-fi! Like Noumenon, this book starts in familiar solar system territory, though an unspecified amount of time in the future. Our hero is a highly advanced humanoid Android, who understands that its entire purpose is to serve the orbital energy facility that powers 1/3 of Earth from Jupiter's radioactive orbit. But Unit Four's life is blown wide open when the station is attacked by aliens who look exactly like it. Most if not all of that is on the jacket material, and the book wastes no time dancing around that "reveal". But the way everything pivots around that moment, from the characters' understanding of their world to the way the reader sees the insides of a spaceship, are what makes Marina Lostetter's sci-fi an easy favorite for me. She sees all the ways "world building" and story and character overlap and shape each other and aren't just separate ingredients. And then she does it all again in the same book. Another of Marina Lostetter's great strengths is how easily she populates her books with a wide variety of diversity, both in the background and foreground of her characters' lives. I would have liked a little more time with some of the "Invaders" who aren't on screen very much, but I did enjoy the depth of the ones we got a lot of. The crew have some familiar tropes about them but much more queer, and it's for the better. The cover of this book promises an exploration of artificial intelligence what it means to be a person. It is that, and also surprised me by meditating on class and colonialism. It's not a spoiler to say this book takes place after massive environmental destruction on Earth, like so many sci-fi stories do. And while not many pages are dedicated to the questions here, I think this is one of the better books that asks, who is responsible for the sins of the fathers?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    Not really my cup of tea, I guess. I had hopes for it, but... nah. Nothing really interesting happens except something slightly interesting at the very end. There's some romance that added basically nothing to the story, except Obligatory Romance Elements. I didn't really care for the characters. Mostly I was just annoyed by some of the ways the author described things. ("Brethren" isn't singular, for instance. And why, if you refer to yourself as "it" do you call your fellow units "sisters" rath Not really my cup of tea, I guess. I had hopes for it, but... nah. Nothing really interesting happens except something slightly interesting at the very end. There's some romance that added basically nothing to the story, except Obligatory Romance Elements. I didn't really care for the characters. Mostly I was just annoyed by some of the ways the author described things. ("Brethren" isn't singular, for instance. And why, if you refer to yourself as "it" do you call your fellow units "sisters" rather than "siblings?" Bah.) That's not all that bothered me, but I'm already sounding really bitchy about a book a lot of people seem to like. No problem. People get to like what they like. I just didn't see what all the fuss was about. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator was ok, not great. 2.5 stars rounded up. A disappointment for me.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...