TS Chan's Reviews > All Systems Red

All Systems Red by Martha Wells
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really liked it

The introduction to The Murderbot Diaries is simply great fun! A refreshing and diverting sci-fi novella with wide appeal; a marvellous package of wry humour, suspense and a healthy dose of compassion.

As much as I love science fiction, I don't consider myself as a hardcore reader of the genre, and there are a lot of popular series or "required reading" which I have yet to catch-up on. In this respect, I find this book to be original; it is not a space opera, cyberpunk and it is not about an alien invasion. This is a first-person perspective narrative of a humanlike bot, a construct of both organic and inorganic parts, who finds it/him/herself becoming weird and messed up with increasing ‘emotions' while dealing with her human clients even though the bots are not programmed as such. (Okay, I am going to call the bot a ‘her' because even though it is technically genderless, I can't help picturing it as a female. The voice of her first-person perspective just sounds feminine, in my opinion).

Check out its hook right at the beginning.

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realised I could access the combined feed of entertainment feed carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours 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.

Now, tell me that you don't want to keep on reading after that! The Murderbot (a self-proclaimed name) is an introverted, socially awkward/anxious ‘geek' who couldn't wait to get back to her serials once her job is done instead of hanging around with her human clients to whom she was contracted to as the SecUnit. In corporate-dominated space travel, this was the order of the day for all entities who want to conduct explorations or surveys on various planets. One SecUnit for every ten humans for security reasons, the contractee will also be using the company's habitats, database and communications systems, and an emergency beacon. As the contracts are, strangely, won by the lowest bidder, the company is cheap and we get a lot of humourous narrative about the deplorable quality and condition of the company's software and hardware from the Murderbot's point-of-view.

Even as a construct, the Murderbot is completely relatable and endearing, especially the way she keeps wanting to go back to her serials or trying to sneak in some time to watch her entertainment feeds. There are too many times when I feel a desperate need to be left alone to my books; a feeling I am sure every avid reader out there shares one way or another. While I can't call myself a social misfit, this is something I empathise with, where any form of interaction can be absolutely frightening, particularly when it involves eye contact and physical touch. The underlying message of the story goes down deeper into the theme of slavery and social outcasts, which these bots essentially are in respect to the humans.

The story is most compelling and amusing when she finds herself feeling out of sorts with her current client, a bunch of scientists and explorers whom she found herself liking, and much to her chagrin were intent on treating her as one of them. Her observation of this group was a hilarious analogy to her serials.

The whole group had been remarkably drama-free so far, which I appreciated. The last few contracts had been like being an involuntary bystander in one of the entertainment feed's multi-partner relationship serials except I'd hated the whole cast.

There are plenty more of such amusing asides as she and her clients found themselves in a life or death situation. As a rogue SecUnit with a hacked governor module who liked her clients enough not to see them killed, she endeavoured to save them from whatever or whoever is trying to hunt them down. There are great moments of suspense from this arc, although I did find its ending to be quite abrupt.

With its crisp and captivating delivery in a morsel-sized story, I am looking forward to more adventures with the Murderbot.

You can order this book from: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide)

You can also find this, and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
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Reading Progress

March 23, 2018 – Shelved
March 23, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
April 9, 2018 – Started Reading
April 12, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)

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Petrik Great review, TS!! Interesting indeed! Will most likely get to this one in the future!


message 2: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Petrik wrote: "Great review, TS!! Interesting indeed! Will most likely get to this one in the future!"

Thanks, Petrik! Let's see where we go from here. I've started on the e-arc of Book 2 already.


Philip Refreshing and diverting is a good description. I also thought of Murderbot as female.


message 4: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Philip wrote: "Refreshing and diverting is a good description. I also thought of Murderbot as female."

Thanks, Philip! Right? It just 'sounds' female.


ChopinFC 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 for another stellar review..made me wanna read it!


message 6: by TS (last edited Apr 14, 2018 10:59PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan ChopinFC wrote: "👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 for another stellar review..made me wanna read it!"

Thank you, Rod! I'd recommend that you read this one day. It is really fun! I just finished the 2nd novella and it's even better!


message 7: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Ok, your review of book 2 now has me adding this to my list. Well done :)


message 8: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Lee wrote: "Ok, your review of book 2 now has me adding this to my list. Well done :)"

YES!!! And thank you! Will look forward to your views when you get to it. 😀


Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ This sounds really good TS! It was sort of hovering around on my maybe radar but seeing as yours enjoying it I'll definitely give it a go! Great review sweetness! 💓☺️


message 10: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ wrote: "This sounds really good TS! It was sort of hovering around on my maybe radar but seeing as yours enjoying it I'll definitely give it a go! Great review sweetness! 💓☺️"

Thank you, dear!! Do try it, I really think you'll enjoy this. It's pretty short too. And let me know if you think the Murderbot sounded female xD!


message 11: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee Well, it's going to be hard not to read it as female now as you've pre-conditioned us :)


message 12: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Hahaha, oops!!


message 13: by Celeste (new)

Celeste Aw, this sounds way cuter than I was expecting. Lovely review, dear!


message 14: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Celeste wrote: "Aw, this sounds way cuter than I was expecting. Lovely review, dear!"

Thanks, dear!! Yes it was.. I didn't expect it to be but what a lovely surprise.


message 15: by Lee (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lee End of chapter 1 and definitely female ;)


message 16: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Lee wrote: "End of chapter 1 and definitely female ;)"

Glad you think so too ;)


Michelle Watson Forbes Yes, I read it as female too... started it this morning and am enjoying it very much.


message 18: by TS (new) - rated it 4 stars

TS Chan Michelle wrote: "Yes, I read it as female too... started it this morning and am enjoying it very much."

*Nods head in agreement.
Glad you loved this too, Michelle.


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