“All Systems Red” by Martha Wells

“All Systems Red” by Martha WellsAll Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) by Martha Wells
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1
Published: May 2nd 2017 by Tor.com / Tom Doherty Associates
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 149
Format: Paperback
Source: Gift
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All Systems Red is the first book in the series The Murderbot Diaries. And really, the word murderbot is what made me pick up this book. It just *sounds* like the kind of thing I’d want to read. Luckily, my instinct was correct, and All Systems Red did not disappoint.

The story is set in outer space. Space exploration is regulated by corporations, and those corporations are cheap and want to cut as many corners as possible so they can make lots and lots of money. When a group of explorers goes on a mission, the corporation makes them rent a SecUnit (security unit), an android made partially with cloned human parts, in order to protect (but mostly spy on and collect data from) the explorers.

The main character of this story is a SecUnit that’s hacked its governor module and gone rogue. It doesn’t want the humans to find out, because then it would be taken apart for scrap or would have another governor module installed, and that would mean the end of its freedom. Really, Murderbot (that’s what it calls itself in private) just wants to spend some quality time watching the many many many hours of soap operas that it downloaded. The thought of socializing with humans, who both fear and pity it, isn’t at all appealing.

But of course, life isn’t that easy. Someone is sabotaging the mission, and if the humans are going to survive, they’re going to have to work together with the newly rogue Murderbot to do so.

I really liked the way that Murderbot is characterized throughout the story, because the author makes it very clear that even though Murderbot thinks like a person and has emotions, it isn’t a human at all. Murderbot has no gender, because it wasn’t built with any sexual parts or characteristics. It doesn’t hold grudges against the corporation or humans in general, because holding grudges is a very human thing to do. True, it has many human feelings and characteristics, but it’s also very much a robot. It doesn’t feel comfortable interacting with humans because humans either treat it with revulsion or try to humanize it, and the latter is extremely awkward for everyone involved precisely because it isn’t human. Murderbot is its own thing and doesn’t fit neatly into any of the boxes you try to put it in. It’s an alien consciousness that wasn’t supposed to happen, and now it’s trying to figure out its place in the world.

I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. All Systems Red was a grand adventure, and I can’t wait to see what Murderbot will do with itself next.

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