Friday, May 5, 2017

All Systems Red, by Martha Wells

Find this story
(SF Thriller; Murderbot Diaries) A “security bot” assigned to support a survey team impresses them with its competence as a series of things go wrong. What they don’t know is that it has disabled the governor that prevents it from hurting people. (31,128 words; Time: 1h:43m)

Rating: ★★★★★ Thrilling, Thoughtful, Touching

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"," by (edited by Lee Harris), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

The overarching plot is that MurderBot wants its freedom. From the first page, where we learn it has hacked its governor, to the last page, where it heads into space “out of inventory and out of sight,” this one goal is always in the background.

It wants freedom, but on its own terms. The PreservationAux crew want it to be free, but they want it to be an honorary human. It constantly bristles at their well-intended overtures because they can’t accept it for what it is—or even understand it.

Inside that framework, there’s almost nonstop action. Rescuing Bharadwaj, investigating the missing scan data, visiting the DeltaFall camp, evacuating their own Hab, and the final confrontation with GrayChris are all miniplots that keep the tension high. Moreover, each episode introduces us to a bit more worldbuilding and a bit more character development—all without a single infodump.

The real genius of this story is that by the end we think we know MurderBot pretty well. We like it, and yet we’re very aware that it isn’t human and never will be.

Beyond that, dialogue is consistently natural, the narration is never obtrusive, and all the key plot points are adequately foreshadowed. Bravo!

On a minor note, the stupid, greedy, slightly inept company is far more reasonable than the cardboard-villain “EvilCorp” that spoils so many stories.

Other Reviews: Search Web, GoodReads.com
Martha Wells Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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4 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. (As mentioned elsewhere...) I also thought this was excellent. The sardonic character of Murderbot helped keep the tone a bit lighter than the title would suggest, and it combined interesting SF with enjoyable action.

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  2. It's endearing that Murderbot keeps saying how it doesn't care, and yet its actions demonstrate over and over that it really does care.

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  3. I loved this story, too! It's going on my Hugo nominee list. Wells reliably writes engaging, character-driven fantasy. She's on my auto-buy in HB list.

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    1. I definitely look forward to reading the next installment.

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