Book reviews / Science Fiction

Book review: All Systems Red

I’m almost positive that V E Schwab on Science Fiction Double Featurerecommended this book. All Systems Red by Martha Wells is a Kindle Single and the first story in the Murderbot Diaries series. And it’s a fucking delight. It’s more than a delight. It’s hilarious, entertaining, interesting and just well written.

The plot of All Systems Red is fairly simple and it works. There’s a survey group on a planet – they have to hire their equipment from a company, including a Security Bot (or SecUnit as it will be referred to). Unknown to either the company or the survey group, the bot has hacked it’s governor module – which essentially means it can’t be told what to do anymore. It maintains cover by doing the bare minimum and watching entertainment feeds the rest of the time. But the SecUnit is awkward and honestly can’t be fucked sometimes (which works out in its favour).

I think it was these one liners that really endeared SecUnit to me. Just absolutely no fucks to give.

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

Also, you get a sense of the awkwardness it has to face when interacting with humans.

“All right,” she said, and looked at me for what objectively I knew was 2.4 seconds and subjectively about 20 excruciating minutes.”

But things change when things start to go wrong on the mission. Suddenly parts of their survey maps are missing and their satellite goes down (among other things). They try and contact the other survey group on the planet, but something even worse has happened there. Basically, shit starts to fall apart and SecUnit needs to help her humans survive (and maybe even start to like one or two of them).

Anyway, it was 154 pages of awkwardness, sassiness and dealing with the bad guys. There is also a good gender balance – the commander of the mission was a woman alongside several members of the survey team. The main character was SecUnit though (or I suppose, ‘Murderbot’ as it called itself) and the internal dialogue and most of the action was entered around it.

Since SecUnit was such a great character, I just dashed through the 154 pages like nothing. I started reading it late last night and stayed up too late, laughing at the hilarious one liners. I’m totally looking forward to the next instalment which is out later this year.

It was just fun. So much fun. Go treat yourself, it was less than £3 on Kindle.

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