Book Review, Science Fiction

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

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. 

This novella was one I was excited to read about. There was no disappointment except that it was a novella and not a full novel, I wanted more lol. I have four of the six novellas and am planning on reading what I have. This novella series was on my to be read pile since last year, but I kept pushing it back…… okay, I kept getting distracted by shiny new books lol.

Our main character is a company supplied SecUnit or a self-aware droid that is half human and half robot. What is interesting about this droid is because of it being self-aware, it hacked its own governor module and became rouge. This means it can decide when and what it wants to update, reads information to its convenience, basically it decides it’s self what to do. Though it never does it out loud, the droid refers to itself as “murderbot”. Murderbot does not care for humans. All it wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. With Murderbot being a droid, it still feels like a well-written character with its human-like qualities.

The human characters are as interesting as Murderbot. They are scientists conducting surface tests on a distant planet. These characters felt well flushed out. Unlike Murderbot’s other clients, they try to talk and engage with it. Once they got used to it, they were not afraid to ask it different questions about itself, what could cause the situations, and opinions about what they should do. I enjoyed most of these scientists and hope this is not the last time we see them. Each of these scientists brings different views to the story and have different qualifications like a real team would have.

The author does not do a lot with location in this novella. There was a basic understanding of the planet and the base the scientists and Muderbot were staying at, and that was enough for this story. Being a novella, I feel if there was anymore description, it would slow the story down. The pacing of this story was great and worked well for this story.

I enjoyed this little novella and will read the rest in this series. I would recommend this to anyone who likes scifi, adventure, rouge droids, and space stories.

I give this story a 4/5

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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