All Systems Red – Martha Wells

“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.”

Ah, Murderbot – what took me so long?! This novella is just wonderful – I mean, a sarcastic, soap-opera obsessed killing machine, what’s not to love?! 🙂

It’s the future. The Company oversees everything, including the exploration of new planets. They require each exploration team to take with them a certain number of SecUnits: not wholly machine, but treated like robots. Our hero and narrator somehow managed to hack the controller, though, and is managing to cover it up by doing the bare minimum of a job, all the while caring for nothing except getting back to the telly. I mean, totes relatable!

All Systems Red sees the self-named Murderbot on a new planetary survey with a group of scientists. But it’s not long before they discover someone has tampered with their information pack, and then a neighbouring survey team goes suddenly silent…

You wouldn’t necessarily think a literal killing machine could be such a relatable character, but it really is! The hatred for work, the massive social anxiety when forced to actually talk to humans, and the want to just wrap themself up in the fantasy of stories – I mean, hello! It’s also extremely good at its job, which comes in more than handy as the sh*t starts hitting the fan almost from the word go on this new world.

The story itself is fairly straightforward and short, but it packs in a whole lot of both action and characterisation. Wraps itself up very well while absolutely designed to leave you wanting more – so complete hurrah for the three more novellas, full-length novel (all available), and new novella due out next month!

Kindle: 144 pages / 8 chapters
First published: 2017
Series: The Murderbot Diaries book 1 (of 6 to date)
Read from 5th-7th March 2021

My rating: 9/10

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