All Systems Red – Martha Wells

All Systems Red


A security cyborg leased out by its parent company is able to circumvent its governor chip, giving it substantial freedom of action, to the surprise of its colleagues, and of those who attack them.


Honestly, the description of All Systems Red didn’t seem like my kind of thing, but Tor was giving it away for free, and I like Martha Wells, so I picked it up. The gamble paid off.

I’ve been a fan of Martha Wells since City of Bones and The Element of Fire. Lately, though, I’ve been underwhelmed (e.g., by the Raksura and Emilie). I’m glad, then, that The Murderbot Diaries sees Ms. Wells coming back full force, if in an unaccustomed genre.

In All Systems Red, the ‘murderbot’ protagonist has just the right mix of glum realism and mordant humor. The science is left in the background – that the murderbot is remarkably human is part of the context – and best left unexamined. The character, however, is spot on – capable, disaffected, self-deprecating, and funny. It’s a great combination. There’s enough plot and action to keep the story moving, but the focus is deservedly on the murderbot itself.

My only criticism, really, (aside from a few too many parenthetical asides) is the brevity of the story. It is and is clearly intended to be the first of a series, but the piece ends somewhat abruptly. It could easily have gone well beyond its novella length, but this first episode is fairly satisfying.

I received a free copy of this
book in exchange for an honest review.

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