Title: All Systems Red
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: The Murderbot Diaries Book #1
Where I got the book: Amazon
Date finished reading: March 19, 2019
Goodreads Description: 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.
My Review: I love it when a book club meeting can help me appreciate a read much more than I had. All Systems Red was no exception. I went into this book club having not enjoyed this book as much as I had wanted to. The reason for my dislike may have stemmed from being a bit new to science fiction as a whole. It is not a genre I tend to read. I have probably only read a handful of science fiction in my entire life. This book irritated me, because there wasn’t enough description for my tastes; the plot was hurried at times; and the language just seemed a bit too simplistic. However, my fellow book club members helped me realize that there was actually a lot of depth to this book.
This is a unique story told from the perspective of Murderbot – a robotic machine with organic parts (human feelings). “Murderbot” was actually a name it gave himself, so just from that you get a glimpse of its personality and possible inner struggles. We discussed whether we had assigned Murderbot a gender during the book, if its actions or personality made us think of it as a female or a male, which can lead to an interesting discussion. Just discussing its personality as a whole can be enlightening. At the beginning of the story, the reader learns that Murderbot has hacked its own government module. By hacking its own system, Murderbot now has free will over itself and its feelings. As a reader, you witness its struggle with those feelings, as it tries to work for and with humans. Some of Murderbot’s actions can seem similar to actions of an autistic individual or someone who suffers from social anxiety. The reader can’t help but wonder if the author put some of her own feelings and thoughts into Murderbot.
Let me end this review by discussing the book’s simplicity. Even though that bothered me, to the rest of my fellow book clubbers, the book’s simplicity was a positive thing and is what makes it special. Martha Wells does not create this fantastical world that is hard to imagine, but a world that is easily imaginable – a world not that different from our own. In addition, there is a similarity to our own society at times, where money and wealth drives actions and creates conflict. It is not a stretch to be a part of this story that Martha Wells has created.
While my rating reflects my own lack of interest for All Systems Red, it did not bring down by too much the overall high rating that my book club gave it – many of which would highly recommend this book to others.
My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦
Book Club Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ¼