Title: All Systems Red
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Sci-fi, Novella
My Rating: 5 stars
This novella takes off at a fast pace right out of the gate, and we were thrown right into the action from page one. There is imminent danger hanging over the humans, but thankfully they have Murderbot to protect them from whatever comes their way.
“What was I supposed to do, kill all humans because the ones in charge of constructs in the company were callous? Granted, I liked the imaginary people on the entertainment feed way more than I liked real ones, but you can’t have one without the other.”
Murderbot is a very interesting character; it was programed to be a security android, but was able to illegally remove its governor and is now able to make decisions on its own. Between times when the humans need it, the android enjoys sneaking episodes of its favorite reality TV shows. The last thing it wants to do it spend time socializing with the humans, although it does enjoy watching them and analyzing what they do. Murderbot’s awkwardness around humans adds a humorous aspect to the story, and the android’s observations and internal dialog was very amusing throughout this novella.
Without a governor, Murderbot is prone to something akin to feelings, and has to work hard to keep them in check so that nobody notices it is acting outside of the guidelines. Murderbot may not care about much, but it is protective over the humans it is assigned to, especially its current crew. (They are all pretty nice for humans- and they all get along with each other, not like some of the crews Murderbot has worked with.) It is hard to tell how much of Murderbot’s protective instincts comes from its duty to protect and how much comes from the freedom it has due to living without a governor.
“Nobody was touching my humans. To make sure of that I had to kill these two rogue Units. I could have pulled out at this point, sabotaged the hoppers, and got my humans out of there, leaving the rogue Units stuck on the other side of an ocean; that would have been the smart thing to do. But I wanted to kill them.”
I would have liked the novella to have more descriptions of the planet they were on and the plants and animals that inhabited it. Maybe it is just a personal preference, but I enjoy reading about alien species and planets in sci-fi novels. For such a short story there was an impressive amount of world building; I learned a lot about this universe in very few pages. Murderbot itself is a really cool piece of technology: it is clever and extremely good in physical altercations, which you would expect from a robot, but it can also be very human at times without its governor. I’m excited to see what’s next for Murderbot, and am happy to have stumbled upon such a great series.