All Systems Red by Martha Wells (The Murderbot Diaries #1)
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Summary: 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.
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Review: All Systems Red is a fascinating sci-fi novella told from the point of view from a serious & comedic AI unit. Great character development, unique world building, mystery, and bits of humor throughout blend together to deliver a novella that will leave you wanting more once you’ve reached the last page!
I loved this novella so much! I’m usually hesitant because of the short length, I might not get all the development, etc. I’m hoping for, but not with All Systems Red!
Just this first paragraph alone was a sign that this novella would be amazing:
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 or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don’t know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays, and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure.
Reading from Murderbot’s perspective was so entertaining, hilarious and at many moments, pretty relatable too (b/c all it basically wants to do is to stay inside & avoid people 😂)
The story starts off on the coastal island of a distant planet where two teams of scientists are conducting research. The first sign of trouble is when two of the Murderbot’s scientists are examining a crater and get caught in an explosion.
After getting them to safety, they review their reports and with the Murderbot’s help, notice their report may have been altered or tampered with in some way. Even more signs of trouble is that not only do they discover a section of their map missing, but almost land in a “hazard marker” and they can’t even contact DeltFall, the other team joining them on the planet.
They decide to see if the other team is okay with their leader, Dr.Mensah assessing the risks but ultimately agreeing they should check it out. Murderbot is always on her side, even when they get into trouble always sympathizes with her and understands the risks she must take to keep her team safe.
Along the way, it was great to see the Murderbot connect even more to its team (Dr. Mensah, Volescu, Pin-Lee, Arada and Gurathin) even though its really hesitant in interacting with them.
Learning more about Murderbot itself (what its willing to risk and how it came to work with them) through its both serious and hilarious moments was genius!
The technology and politics of this world were so fascinating and it was great to learn about it from the perspective of an AI who understands so much, yet knows when to be comedic about it too!
They are such an integral part of the world and aside from learning more about the Murderbot & scientists, were such interesting aspects of the world/story that I’m glad to have gotten so much background on.
As the story progresses, it learns more about the government it works for and why these bad things have been going on during the mission.
I don’t really want to get into too many spoilers b/c its really an immersive and intriguing story that’s more fun when you discover it along the way.
I was worried about not getting enough world-building, but along the way as they explore the planet and try to solve the mystery, there’s so much depth to it that gets revealed.
My only minor issue was some slow pacing through out the middle. Aside from that…
All Systems Red is an immersive novella with a unique world and perfectly blends mystery, space + technology, and bits of comedy to deliver a fascinating speculative fiction/ science fiction short story that will intrigue you from start to finish!
Highly recommend to check out All Systems Red! 😍📚