All Systems Red Review (Mild-Spoilers)

by Martha Wells

Publisher: Tor.com

Print Length: 144 pages

Release Year: 2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.15

Available at Amazon, B&N

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. (Goodreads)

This book is a hilariously entertaining sci-fi adventure written from the point of view of a “murderbot.” Yes, you read that right, a murderbot. 

There is a diverse ensemble of characters in this book, but the author made the utterly genius decision to write it in the point of view of a sentient robot, who– in the past– murdered a large group of people. It’s a fascinating, and hilarious, examination of the robots perception of itself and those around it as it is recommissioned and assigned to work security for a research team. Seeing itself as a danger to humans, it hacks itself to achieve full sentience, which gives it a perspective of the world unique to itself. There’s a fascinating examination of what it means to exist and to be sentient, as the expedition is turned upside down by an largely unknown threat. What is known, security robots are attacking people. We watch as the robot goes through an existential crisis, knowing what it should do, in relation to what it wants to do, and the reason it should do these things. 

If you want a short read, All Systems Red, is for you; as it’s easy to read as a stand-alone novella. If you’re a fan of longer science fiction adventures, the novella has been expanded into a much larger series of books, all of which I am looking forward to reading in the future. All Systems Red is only a small glimpse into this world and its inhabitants, and it’s evident that there are many more stories to explore.

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