All Systems Red by Marth Wells

32758901

Publication Date: 2 May 2017
Publisher: Tor.com
Format: eBook
Pages: 144
ISBN: 0765397528

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.

****

Review:

In the interest of full disclosure, I read this book while recovering from an edible. That being said, I thought this book was oddly endearing. Murderbot is such a relatable character in their (her?) love of TV and disinterest in their day job. Really, the opening paragraph sums up their character perfectly.

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 was well over 35,000 hour 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.

Throughout this book, all Murderbot really wants is to be left alone to watch Sanctuary Moon, its current TV obsession. There’s a particular scene where Murderbot, who’s recently kinda made friends with the scientists they’re guarding, is invited to join them in social activities. I found their reaction hilarious because it’s this mix of disgust and confusion as it awkwardly walks out of the room, leaving the scientists just as confused.

While I really enjoyed Murderbot’s character, I wasn’t incredibly engaged in the plot itself. The plot is very small and self-contained, no saving the world in this book. However, and I suspect it’s because of the massive headache I was fighting, I just didn’t take much interest in it. There was nothing egregiously wrong, it just didn’t capture my attention as I’d hoped it would.

As a side note, I have to point out that the entire time I was reading, I was under the impression Murderbot was female. They have a human face and brain and everything, but I don’t think gender is explicitly mentioned. I suppose somewhere along the way, I decided ‘female!’. It was only as I started to write this review and was doublechecking Murderbot’s gender that I realized one was never given.

Overall, I rate this book a 4/5. I loved Murderbot’s character, and while I didn’t find the plot too engaging, I’m still looking forward to reading the sequels.

/r/Fantasy Bingo 2018 Squares:

  • Novel that was reviewed on /r/Fantasy
  • Any /r/Fantasy Goodreads Group Book of the Month
  • Subgenre: Space Opera

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