Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Book Review: 'All Systems Red' by Martha Wells

I really enjoyed 'All Systems Red' by Martha Wells. The story of a part organic, part robotic security unit, or SecUnit, tasked with looking after a small group of scientists and technicians on an expedition to another planet.

It's told from the point of view of the SecUnit, who, after secretly hacking and disabling the governor module that controls its behaviour and obedience, now refers to itself (if only in private) as Murderbot, and is painfully shy and would rather be watching the serials they've downloaded from the entertainment feeds, mostly of a show called 'Rise And Fall Of Sanctuary Moon', than interact with people. But when suspicious things start happening, as well as another research station suddenly going off line, SecUnit reluctantly has to get involved with the expedition group to find out what is happening and is surprised to find that they want to protect 'their humans'.

Its a fast paced and enjoyable read, a mix of science fiction and thrilling mystery. I liked the setting up of the corporate funded expeditions and the world building that surrounded it. I got vibes of Duncan Jones' 'Moon' movie with a big conglomo that only cares about profit and does things on the cheap. The character of SecUnit was really well fleshed out and I liked the personality that came through slowly as the bot came to terms of having to interact with the group of researchers it was there to protect, becoming more human than robot. Although it's written as an androgynous cyborg, I had the impression of it being female for some reason. Dr Mensah, the lead on the expedition, and the rest of the scientists and technicians came across as likeable and were a well knit team, even Dr Gurathin, who was suspicious of the SecUnit. Each had their own personalities and concerns, making them seem like a real group of people rather than just a bunch of generic scientists on an expedition.

The only downside for me is that it was over too quickly, as I was really enjoying the novella, but as it's the first in a series of four stories, the next being 'Artificial Condition', which is now available (as of May 2018), I will definitely be looking forward to reading more of the Murderbot Diaries.