Title: All Systems Red
Author: Martha Wells
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1
Date Published: May 2nd 2017
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
“As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”
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.
All Systems Red is the story of ‘Murderbot’ – a self-aware security android who hacked their own controlling governor module, freeing themselves from control. But rather than rebelling against their corporate overlords, they really just want to be left alone to figure out who they are, what they want, and how they can find more time to watch the next episode of their favourite show.
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.― Martha Wells, All Systems Red
I know I’m late to the party when it comes to this sci-fi series (as per usual with me), but it only took about two pages before I determined that nothing could ever be allowed to happen to Murderbot. I adore this character. They’re the most sarcastic, pessimistic, socially awkward introvert to ever exist and they go about fulfilling their duties to the absolute bare minimum their contract allows. They’d much rather be left alone to watch entertainment feeds and ignore all humans, which speaks to me on a deeply personal level, because I also hate people.
But they’re also sweet, hilarious, and (despite all their protests to the contrary) incredibly protective of ‘their’ humans. In addition to the fantastic moments of ‘screw the government’, and ‘screw corporate greed’, there’s a touching vulnerability to their voice; a deep, fragile heart lies somewhere behind all their (absolutely badass) armour. And I’d take on the entire universe to protect them.
Gurathin turned to me. “So you don’t have a governor module, but we could punish you by looking at you.”
I looked at him. “Probably, right up until I remember I have guns built into my arms.”― Martha Wells, All Systems Red
It’s important to remember that this is a novella, and so there isn’t a lot of room for development for anyone or anything that isn’t Murderbot. The other characters are fairly surface level in depth, and the worldbuilding is softer than I’d usually prefer. But, since I’m fairly certain the entire purpose of this novella was to get me to fall head over heels for Murderbot, it does makes sense. That said, I do look forward to more development of the world and the other characters in the next installments.
However, in no way does this take away from the book as a whole. In fact, it just left me wanting more! The smaller format and the quick pace of the story makes this a fast and comfortable read, and left me eager to find out what happens next.
All Systems Red manages to create an incredible storyline filled with tension and suspense without sacrificing any of it’s wit and charm, and sets up an entire universe of potential to explore. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this book and this character.
There are already plenty of available books in this series, so I’ll be looking out for the next part of Murderbot’s journey as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts in the comments.