Published by Tor.com on May 2nd 2017
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.
I don’t read much sci-fi, but I’m glad I picked up All Systems Read. I knew it had won several awards, but I was mostly intrigued by the main character, a robot with organic parts. It calls itself Murderbot even thought it doesn’t want to murder. It’s not hard sci-fi (otherwise I’d run for the hills), so it was worth a try. I just can’t get into hard sci-fi books. Sometimes things just aren’t for you.
After the first chapter, I was hooked. It reminded me of a mix of The Martian, No Man’s Sky (a game), with the robot from Lost In Space. I like that Wells didn’t go too much into detail about the planet, its position in comparison to Earth, or the purpose of the expedition. It’s not necessary to know all those things, not for the story. I probably would’ve liked the book less if those were included. I come for the story, and that’s what she gave me.
It’s a novella so it’s perfect for a few hours of entertainment. It’s incredibly well written, especially the non-human perspective. I like that Murderbot hacked its own module to be a free agent and still chooses to watch series instead of going on a murderous rampage. It seems more human than it wants to admit. The humans reactions to seeing Murderbot’s face is intriguing as well. As soon as they find out it looks like them, they start treating him differently, because they recognise something of themselves in it. This might be true in real life as well.
I rate All Systems Red with five stars, and highly recommend it for anyone who enjoy exploring new planets, robots, and suspense. I’m looking forward to reading the rest. Have you read them yet? Share your thoughts down below!