All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Website, Twitter, Insta, Facebook)
Her Grace’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I read it as a: paperback
Length: 144 pp
Published by: Tor.com (pub date)
I read this as part of a reading challenge and was delighted by it. A group of scientists are on an unnamed and unpopulated planet to do surveys for possible future colonization. Per company policy, they are required to have a SecUnit with them, a sentient artificial life comprised of organic and mechanical components. Its job is to provide security to the humans in the group. When they discover that another survey group on the other side of the planet is not responding to communication, they take SecUnit with them to investigate. There, they learn that that group’s SecUnits have gone rogue and killed all the humans they were supposed to protect. What none of them anticipates is that the SecUnits were hacked by a group that wants the humans on this planet dead so they do not discover an area of huge importance.
This was a super fun read. I LOVED SecUnit, who had secretly hacked its own governor software so that it was fully independent and sentient. It calls itself MurderBot, because that is what it thinks it is best at. MurderBot is totally introverted and socially awkward, so right away I bonded with it. I love that a robot or synthetic lifeform is anything less than perfect, and in such a realistic way. It hates talking face to face with humans and it just wants to be left alone when not on duty; when on duty, it just wants to do its job and also be left alone. Me, too, MurderBot. Me, too.
This was really a story about what it means to be human. MurderBot is one of the most human characters in the story, and really in many other things I have read recently.
I think I might have to buy these for my own collection rather than getting them from the library. I just really enjoyed it.
Favorite part/ lines (potential spoilers!):
- Yes, talk to Murderbot about its feelings. The idea was so painful I dropped to 97 percent efficiency.
- I thought it was likely that the only supplies we would need for DeltFall was the postmortem kind, but you may have noticed that when I do manage to care, I’m a pessimist.
- What was I supposed to do, kill all humans because the ones in charge of constructs in the company were callus? Granted, I liked the imaginary people on the entertainment feed way more than I liked the real ones, but you can’t have one without the other.
- …Dr. Mensah, my favorite human.