Book Review: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

You know that book you pick up, and you read it through one sitting. This is one of those books (the whole series is, just finished with the fourth first novellas. I will review them all one by one.) Actually, I listened to this book. And the narration is superb and fitting for this series. The whole the Murderbot Diaries series is light, entertaining, short, riveting, starting from All Systems Red. Oh, you can ponder deep thoughts about free will, AIs, freedom, servitude, emotions, and all that fun, if you like with the series, but you don’t have to.

All Systems Red is about a Murderbot or a SecUnit, which (or should I say who?) is hired into a mission with humans (scientists) to work as their security unit. Through the SecUnit we get to see the story unravel and understand the universe we are living in and the system where you can hire androids from Company for your use and often enough amusement (torture anyone?).

Unfortunately, with the first novella in the series, there are holes in the story and the world-building with contradictions about not having emotions or feelings and yet, at the next sentence describing a thought or an action that required emotions from the android to work. Also, it is unclear which this Company is, how they work, and why. Are there others? What are the scientists’ purposes and goals? But I say, ignore all that, and let the story unravel. It is a good one.

I was constantly wondering what will happen next. The world-building will develop as the series progresses. And the best part of this book and the rest is the Murderbot’s dry, sarcastic inner voice, which observes it (he?) itself and the humans it is there to protect and how things work in Company money- and quality-wise. (Almost can here criticism towards our modern corporation run world, where nothing works and everything is made cheaply. So you have to buy a new product every Monday to brush your teeth.) The one thing I don’t get is the Murderbot’s love for watching TV-series. He is obsessed with them, and I find it an annoying quirk.

I’m in love with the way Martha Wells writes. She knows how to draw the reader in, deliver something unexpected yet familiar, she knows how to construct a story and characters. This was true with her fantasy books, and this is true with this series as well. And All Systems Red allowed me to reconsider my thoughts about free will, freedom, and the importance of emotions with decision making. So that is a huge bonus in my book. Not just empty clatter.

Thank you for reading! And shoo and go and read the series if you haven’t done that yet. Also, happy, murderous thoughts! (Murderbot is a misleading name, I would say. But happy, murderous thoughts are always good to have occasionally. Get them out of your system, so to speak.)

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