All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1), by Martha Wells
Description: (from Macmillan)
In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.
But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.
On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.
Expected publication: May 2nd 2017, part of the Tor.com Summer Line-Up
A review copy (e-galley) of this book was provided by the publisher. Some things might change in the final copy.
A story set on a distant planet and focusing on some kind of robot (or SecUnit) in charge of security for a team of scientists just couldn’t go wrong. I actually started reading this novella without reading anything about it. I was expecting a bit more action or violence since the series has the word “Murderbot” in it, which (surprisingly) led me to believe there would be lots of murder. Still, I was nicely surprised when I dived in a story that really focuses on what’s happening inside the main character’s head and the relationship (or absence of) between him and the other characters.
The first page (yes it’s a first page, I set the font size very large haha) did the trick, I was sold:
“I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As an heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.”
The team has a number of scientists and at first I was not motivated to try and remember everyone’s name and just didn’t make any effort for this. I still ended up knowing a little bit of info about all of them and having no difficulty whatsoever to know who was who. Just like the SecUnit, I didn’t care about them and ended up warming up to them in the course of the story.
“That sounded like a great plan, in that it didn’t involve me.”
The main character is some kind of robot, or man-machine who pirated himself (I know some non-binary people really don’t like the use of “it” and even if the MC actually uses it I feel uncomfortable doing so here?) and enjoys being alone, watching any kind of entertainment. What’s not to love about this? This SecUnit is also super relaxed, blasé and snarky, bored about everything, just getting on with life and what he has to do to be left alone. Except when has has to interact with humans, then he is the most awkward of all the SecUnits. To avoid interacting with the humans he works with, he keeps his armor and his helmet on at all times. That made me think of the kids who wear a hat or a knit cap on at all time because they feel safer that way.
“What was I supposed to do, kill all humans because the ones in charge of constructs in the company were callous? Granted, I liked the imaginary people on the entertainment feed way more than I liked the real ones, but you can’t have one without the other.”
I laughed, I giggled, and I was on the edge of my seat. The way All Systems Red was written stroke a chord with me and it left me deeply content, thankful for such a nice story. Even while writing this review and rereading all the passages I had highlighted (or rather, the PAGES), I was laughing and hurting that I couldn’t quote everything or even hand this novella to everyone just like that.
This novella really left me with a warm feeling. I cannot wait to read more on this Murderbot Series. This one and Killing Gravity are my favourite novellas from 2017 so far! All Systems Red was only 87 pages on my ereader but it didn’t felt too short at all. It left me wanting more, but I don’t think it lacked of anything. I really need to take a look at the other stories Martha Wells has written because I loved everything here!
Read an excerpt here!