Calling all Murderbot fans: Apple TV+ to stream Martha Wells’ series

Talk about a killer show!

Murderbot, Martha Wells’ popular book series about the diaries of a self-aware robot struggling to overcome his programming to kill, will be adapted into a 10-episode science-fiction drama.

Actor Alexandr Skarsgard (Creative Commons license)

Apple TV+ recently announced plans stream the series, which will star Emmy-winning actor Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, Battleship, Succession, The Legend of Tarzan, The Northman, The Stand), who also will serve as executive producer.

The news should spark wide interest from sf/fantasy fans, since Well’s bestselling Murderbot Diary books have won both Hugo and Nebula awards – and from LFS members and libertarian futurists, since several books in the series have been nominated for the Prometheus Award.

In fact, Wells became a Prometheus Best Novel finalist for the first time in 2019 for The Murderbot Diaries (TOR Books) – (including All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol and Exit Strategy).

Why did such an apparently unlikely story about a murderous robot spark such Prometheus Awards recognition?

The tightly linked series of four fast-paced novellas charts the emergence of humanity, empathy, self-awareness and free will in an android, whose origins are partly biological and partly cybernetic.

The android, who guiltily dubs themself “Murderbot” because of their past acts of violence while enslaved, fights for their independence but also is motivated to save lives by growing awareness of the value of human life and human rights.

On top of that basic libertarian theme, the intriguing setting is an expansive interstellar future that does depict voluntary social cooperation – a libertarian ideal – through free markets driven by contracts, insurance-bond penalties, and competing corporations.

So that’s why!

Whether the TV series will come anywhere close to highlighting those particular themes is a separate question, of course.

According to a news story in File 770, Mike Glyer’s sf-fandom news blog, the Apple TV+ project will be produced by Paramount Television Studios.

The scripts and productions of each episode, meanwhile, will be developed by Oscar-nominated filmmakers-screenwriters-producers-directors Chris and Paul Weitz (About a Boy, American Pie).

The brothers’ background in writing and directing films, especially in the sf/fantasy genre, makes their upcoming Murderbot series seem promising.

Interestingly, Chris Weitz co-wrote Rogue One, one of the best Star Wars films of the past decade, and Disney’s live-action 2015 remake of Cinderella, and directed the film adaptations of The Golden Compass and New Moon, a sequel in the Twilight vampire series.

Paul Weitz, meanwhile, directed The Vampire’s Assistant (an adaptation of Darren Shan’s young-adult novel Cirque du Freak) and Tina Fey’s comedy Admission, and early in his career, co-wrote the animated film Antz.

Before the pandemic interrupted so many plans, the Weitz brothers previously were reported to be developing a live-action film-trilogy adaptation of sf/fantasy writer Michael Moorcock’s Elric saga. (Now that appears to be on the back burner…)

The Murderbot series reportedly will focus on “a self-hacking security android (Skarsgård) who is horrified by human emotion yet drawn to its vulnerable ‘clients.’”

The news reports about the work-in-progress go on to describe the robot character and their motivations:

“Murderbot must hide its free will and complete a dangerous assignment when all it really wants is to be left alone to watch futuristic soap operas and figure out its place in the universe….””

Ah yes, that’s the Murderbot we know.



* Prometheus winners: For the full list of Prometheus winners, finalists and nominees – for the annual Best Novel and Best Classic Fiction (Hall of Fame) categories and occasional Special Awards – visit the enhanced Prometheus Awards page on the LFS website, which now includes convenient links to all published essay-reviews in our Appreciation series of more than 100 past winners since 1979.

Watch videos of past Prometheus Awards ceremonies (including the recent 2023 ceremony with inspiring and amusing speeches by Prometheus-winning authors Dave Freer and Sarah Hoyt),Libertarian Futurist Society panel discussions with noted sf authors and leading libertarian writers, and other LFS programs on the Prometheus Blog’s Video page.

Join us! To help sustain the Prometheus Awards and support a cultural and literary strategy to appreciate and honor freedom-loving fiction, join the Libertarian Futurist Society, a non-profit all-volunteer association of freedom-loving sf/fantasy fans.

Libertarian futurists believe that culture matters! We understand that the arts and literature can be vital, and in some ways even more powerful than politics in the long run, by sparking innovation, better ideas, positive social change, and mutual respect for each other’s rights, individuality and human dignity.





Published by

Michael Grossberg

Michael Grossberg, who founded the LFS in 1982 to help sustain the Prometheus Awards, has been an arts critic, speaker and award-winning journalist for five decades. Michael has won Ohio SPJ awards for Best Critic in Ohio and Best Arts Reporting (seven times). He's written for Reason, Libertarian Review and Backstage weekly; helped lead the American Theatre Critics Association for two decades; and has contributed to six books, including critical essays for the annual Best Plays Theatre Yearbook and an afterword for J. Neil Schulman's novel The Rainbow Cadenza. Among books he recommends from a libertarian-futurist perspective: Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist & How Innovation Works, David Boaz's The Libertarian Mind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.

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