I’m at Readercon, where I’ve been recommending Martha Wells’ All Systems Red at every opportunity, including at a panel I was on. I was about to write up the panel (edit: here are the notes), and I decided to log the book here separately, so it would be properly indexed. (I have also been recommending her Books of the Raksura series, but I promised Tor.com a post on those.)
All Systems Red is the first in Wells’ new series of SF novellas, the Murderbot Diaries, which is the very best name for a series ever. It opens thusly:
I COULD HAVE BECOME a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels 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.
Murderbot is a construct, partly organic (from cloned human material) and partly robot. It’s a SecUnit, rented security for a planetary exploration team, forced on the team by an insurance corporation. It is apathetic about its job, it has social anxiety, and it just wants to be left alone to consume media. It is, in other words, pretty darn relatable.
Except that the exploration mission turns dangerous, and Murderbot might be apathetic, but that doesn’t mean that something gets to kill its humans.
Here are the things I love about this: Murderbot’s narrative voice. That it’s a how-to-person story, which I am a sucker for. That Murderbot is agender and asexual. That it’s a fun adventure story. That it’s the right shape and length to fit the novella format. That the humans are casually demographically diverse on multiple axes and, basically, all pretty nice. That it’s a corporation-dominated future. And that it has the exact perfect ending.
Basically, this is a great book and an extremely promising start to a series, and you should read it. Go, shoo, what are you waiting for?