Tuesday 26 January 2021

All Systems Red - Martha Wells - Murderbot Diaries Book 1.0

All Systems Red
Murderbot Diaries Book 1.0
ISBN 9780765397539
eISBN 9780765397522

I had never heard of Martha Wells before author Arthur Slade mentioned her on social media. And specifically, he mentioned this book, which he had just finished. I have read a few books over the years that Art has plugged and have never been disappointed. And that was the case this time as well. I bought this while sitting in PICU after my son had spinal surgery. And read it a couple of days later. When I picked it up, I did not realize that it was part of a series. Let alone this long. A series, but it gives me several more books to look forward to this year. It is in many ways a classic science fiction tale. It reminds me of stories I read a lot of in my youth but only pick up from time to time now. 

In this story the future is not so bright. It is a corporate dominate universe. Planetary exploration and missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. And each off world team is accompanied by Security Androids on a 10 to 1 ratio at minimum. And depending on the backing the team has their equipment and gear can be ‘state of the art’ or refurbished and nearly rubbish. The team we meet his one bot, and is on the lower end of resources. 

Very quickly things go wrong, and the teams realized that their bot has a significant level of autonomy. And that this mission is in a great deal of danger. The bot herself refers to her own self as the Murderbot. And yet her team needs to trust her and work with her. 

There is some great action. Some excellent character development, and a very sound story line in this volume. As soon as I finished it I picked up the remaining volumes that are available and added them to my ‘to be read’ pile. You cannot help but appreciate the characters especially the title character and Dr. Mensah. The story is told from Murderbot’s perspective. I do not typically highlight in novels, even when reading them electronically but I stopped and did so a few times in this one. The first is the beginning of the book:

“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.”

And the second:

“The sense of urgency just wasn’t there. Also, you may have noticed, I don’t care.”

That one alone made me think of James Bolivar diGriz, Slippery Jim aka The Stainless Steel Rat. And as you can tell from the first, it is a thinking book. Not just fluff to entertain.

The story in some ways reminds me of the Stainless Steel Rat Series by Harry Harrison. And in other ways it reminds me of Starship Troopers by Heinlein.  The action and mystery reminds me of the rat. And the deep reflective internal dialogue of Rico. It was a great read as a distraction when I needed it, but also a deep enough story that I am still thinking about its days later. It you are looking for a new series to give a go this is a great one to give a try.

Books by Martha Wells:
The Murderbot Diaries:
0.5 Compulsory
2.0 Artificial Condition 
3.0 Rogue Protocol 
4.0 Exit Strategy
4.5 Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
5.0 Network Effect
6.0 Fugitive Telemetry

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