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All Systems Red (Kindle Single): The…
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All Systems Red (Kindle Single): The Murderbot Diaries (edition 2017)

by Martha Wells (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8136316,592 (4.17)139
Member:Spurts
Title:All Systems Red (Kindle Single): The Murderbot Diaries
Authors:Martha Wells (Author)
Info:Tor.com (2017), 156 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (Author)

  1. 20
    A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (2wonderY)
    2wonderY: The ethical dilemmas and questions on the meaning of humanity inform both stories.
  2. 00
    Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (chlorine)
    chlorine: Main protagonists are at least somewhat AI, and both books have a neutral take on gender.
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» See also 139 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
When I first read this I was delighted by the quirky take on being (in)human with a Murderbot who just wants to be left alone with endless media to peruse. The combination of media addiction and discomfort approaching the panic level at having to deal face to face with humans and human emotion is so identifiable and creates a strong resonance of irony for Murderbot's treasured inhumanity.
Now that I've read 3 sequels it is a delight to come back to this stunning miniature tour de force. ( )
  quondame | Jan 16, 2019 |
{First of 4: The Murderbot Diaries. Sci-fi. Kindle single}
LT recommended

I was looking for some quick reads to try and make my '75 books read in 2018' quota in the last couple of weeks in December. I found this as a Kindle single deal and since this has been getting a lot of (favourable) noise on LT recently I downloaded it to read. However, light, fluffy and quick it is not; I had to put brain into gear - and so it became my first book of 2019.

This novella is told in the first ... er ... person from the Murderbot's point of view. It (although, for some reason, I think of it as feminine) is a cyborg (part organic, part robot), rented out by The Company (which is never named) as a security unit to a scientific team which has an option to investigate an area of a new planet. There is another, larger team (on a different area of the planet) which rates more SecUnits rented out by the company but, as a robot, Murderbot feels no affinity to them. In fact, it has infiltrated it's governor module which is normally used by the company to give it instructions.

The novella opens thus:
'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 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.

I was also still doing my job, on a new contract, and hoping Dr. Volescu and Dr. Bharadwaj finished their survey soon so we could get back to the habitat and I could watch episode 397 of Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon
.'

The Murderbot has to be careful that no-one finds out that it has gone rogue but it does also seem to have developed a conscience as well as an addiction to space soap operas.

The mission goes disastrously wrong (possibly sabotage - but who?) and it has to make decisions that will save the humans it has been assigned to - but only by going against the programming from the governor module.

I don't tend to read much sci-fi and when it is, it's space opera like the Vorkosigan saga and I haven't read AI pretty much at all since I read most of Assimov's I, Robot series about thirty years ago, so this genre was quite fresh to me. I liked the protagonist and the team it worked for. The team was a good mix of (Earth) ethnicities and genders and I liked the way they approached situations relatively calmly. What surprised me was the way the Murderbot thought, rationalised and (despite constantly convincing itself otherwise - or trying to) cared. The ending was bitter sweet, but it opens the way for further [Murderbot Diaries].

Nicely done. A sentimental view of a 'non-sentimental' being.

4.5 stars ( )
  humouress | Jan 7, 2019 |
4.5 stars. Easy.

You are plunged into the story with the first sentence. Within two pages you are hooked and there. It's show, show, show and I loved it. Technology, frontier worlds, isolation, the pursuit of becoming oneself. In space. Wells writes an amazing tale. Find it, try it, pretty sure you'll love it and want more. I do. ( )
  writerlibrarian | Dec 26, 2018 |
My only encounter so far with Martha Wells’ works has been through the first volume of her Tales of the Raksura series, an intriguing combination of fantasy and science fiction that somewhat defies genre definition, and one I intend to return to as soon as I can. I was therefore very curious to read this novella that promised to be quite different, since I enjoy seeing authors flex their proverbial writing muscles in different environments, and I can now say that All Systems Red was a very intriguing experience.

On the surface, this novella looks like the deceptively straightforward story of a scientific team exploring an alien world that finds itself threatened by what looks like incorrect information and equipment failure, which is later revealed as an attempt to kill them all to prevent discovery of an unlawful operation. The team is assisted, as required by the Company – the corporate entity supervising every planetary survey – by a SecUnit, an armed and armored android tasked with their protection. This particular SecUnit, though, is different from the other Company-supplied bots, because it’s been able to hack its own governor module, and therefore to act independently from any directive it receives.

This mutinous act from the SecUnit, that calls itself Murderbot because of a previous incident, is what defines the whole narrative, taking it away from any predictable path and moving it in unexpected – and sometimes deliciously funny – directions. The story is relayed by Murderbot itself, and as unreliable a narrator as it seems to be, the android speaks in a delightfully cynical voice that sets the tone from the very start, since the SecUnit did not hack its governor module for any dark purpose: all it wants is to be independent from the Company’s nagging presence, with its annoying updates and checks, and be free to enjoy the huge cache of serialized shows it downloaded for its own enjoyment.

This is a surprisingly human desire (how many times have we wished to spend a day lounging in front of the tv, instead of having to go to work?), and it sets from the start the parameters for the android’s personality, one that is revealed bit by bit during the course of the story and that manages to make Murderbot a very sympathetic character, one that’s quite easy to root for. If on one side Murderbot is not very fond of humans and tries to avoid their company as much as its duties allow, it does so because of its underlying inability to understand them fully, and in the end its fixation with the serials it’s so fond of might be a way to work toward that understanding through vicarious, less hands-on means. In a way I was reminded of a painfully shy adolescent trying to grasp the finer points of social intercourse by watching tv….

What emerges from the fast-paced narrative is the progressive – and at times even unwilling – change in Murderbot’s psychological profile, which is not so surprising with some hindsight: a bot whose higher aspiration is to be free of superior directives so it can indulge in soap-opera binges is far too human to remain a detached machine for long. Not that our character does not try: we learn soon enough that it feels uncomfortable in the company of humans, that the necessity to lower its visor and show them its face makes it extremely nervous and exposed, which made me wonder how much aware Murderbot is of its difference from the basic SecUnit models, and convinced me of its partial unreliability as a narrator.

As the situation gets ever more dangerous for the science team, we see Murderbot change its attitude toward its humans – just as they change their own attitude toward it, accepting it as one of their own with surprising ease – so that it becomes not only their guard but their protector. The desire for freedom of choice, when paired with the need to safeguard the team’s lives (and incidentally its own), morphs into the first inklings of free will, that at first manifests itself in the ability of thinking up a scheme for the group’s survival and later becomes the desire/necessity to explore this amazing changes without further external influence.

It’s a fascinating journey from many points of view: because of the construct’s growing self-awareness, of course, but also thanks to Murderbot’s peculiar voice that is an irresistible mix of snark and logical thinking, of innocence (as far as interpersonal relations go) and craftiness. It was a delight following the unit’s journey, and I more than look forward to learning more in the upcoming novellas for this series, which I hope will also expand on the tantalizing details we just glimpsed about this future society.


Originally posted at SPACE and SORCERY BLOG
( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Dec 25, 2018 |
Absolutely enjoyable book about a sarcastic android who has something to say about everything. "Murderbot" as she calls herself, is sent with an exploration team that is looking for minerals and ore for their planet. When the team starts experiencing weird glitches, its up to Murderbot to make sure they stay alive.

The story is written quite simply. More of a novella than a full book, it is written with a humanity that tends to be missing in most science fiction novels. Murderbot is a great character. Not Human, and does exactly what she needs to do to stay under the radar of her owners. The exploration crew is a bit more generic. Generally written as stereotypical nice, they can be a bit much to deal with. However, Murderbot provides excellent contrast so the niceness is so overwhelming. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Dec 7, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Wells, MarthaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Foltzer, ChristineCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Free, Kevin R.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harris, LeeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, JaimeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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And in their corner all they had was Murderbot, who just wanted everyone to shut up and leave it alone so it could watch the entertainment feed all day.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765397536, Paperback)

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that blends HBO's Westworld with Iain M. Banks' Culture books

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid ― a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 15 Dec 2016 23:34:25 -0500)

A murderous android discovers itself in "All Systems Red", a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that interrogates the roots of consciousness through Artificial intelligence. In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn't a primary concern. On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied 'droid -- a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as "Murderbot." Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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