Apple is adapting Murderbot

Martha Wells' acclaimed science fiction series will be a 10-episode streaming series

Apple is adapting Murderbot
Image: Andrew Liptak

Apple has announced that it will be adapting Martha Wells' acclaimed Murderbot stories for its streaming platform, Apple TV+. Directors Chris and Paul Weitz have been tapped to helm the 10-episode adaptation, with Alexander Skarsgård set to star and produce. David Goyer will also be producing.

Wells kicked off the series in 2017 with All Systems Red, introducing us to a security bot that hacked its own programming and began calling itself "Murderbot" after an incident on a distant planet. She's since continued the series with Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, Network Effect, Fugitive Telemetry, and most recently, System Collapse, following Murderbot as it works to figure out its existence, and would prefer to avoid humans and watch an endless stream of television shows. However, it keeps getting pulled into various situations that call for its expertise, and ends up finding new friends and allies along the way.

The books have earned Wells widespread acclaim: All Systems Red won the 2018 Alex, Hugo, Locus, and Nebula awards (as well as a bunch of others), while Artificial Condition and Network Effect also won a whole host of awards. In 2021, the entire series earned the Hugo for Best Series.

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It's not hard to see why: Wells has crafted a compelling story about a very particular type of character. When I interviewed her in 2021, she noted that "Murderbot is also very specific about its feelings and its issues," and that "the fact that it has anxiety and depression and everything that it goes through, the more specific you are, the more people find common ground with it." While it's largely robotic, it's a character with plenty of traits that people can easily recognize in themselves, set in a universe that's governed by an oppressive corporate system that's forcing its characters to really jump into action when they're pushed to it.

At the very least, the premise of the story alone should make for a good premise: a reluctant cyborg that's helping people by hacking and smashing. Apple's been doing pretty well on the entertainment front: its science fiction shows like For All Mankind, Monarch, and Silo have been excellent, and I've largely enjoyed its adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation. Obviously, there's a long way to go before this hits screens, but it'll be interesting to see how the show's creators approach the books – I have little doubt that fans will have some strong opinions of what a good adaptation will look like.