All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries 1), by Martha Wells

What with folks (Maureen and Rachel, in this case) whose book taste I share all enthusiastic about the Murderbot novellas of Martha Wells, it was only a mater of time before I started reading them.  And now I have read the first one, All Systems Red (Tor 2017), and want the second and third ones now, in that irrational sort of way someone with hundreds of books to reads wants the ones that aren't on hand.

From what I'd read about Murderbot, trying to avoid spoiling the series, I'd formed an impression of what the books were about--a killer robot, slightly snarky, who's gone rouge and enjoys escapist video watching more than murdering, who makes friends with a human woman in a sci fi adventure of some sort.  This was not entirely accurate.

Murderbot is the name the main character has given itself, although it is actually a Security unit and not designed or educated to kill.  It is neither a robot or a murderer, being instead a mix of the mechanical and living human-ness, and not having ever killed anyone in a murderous sort of way.  And rather than snark being its primary characteristic, shyness is.  The good human friend is true, though, and one of the best parts of the book is watching Murderbot let its guard down to trust and care about that person, and the other secondary character, who are really nice people.

I somehow missed acquiring any details about the actual story, which was, happily for me, one I liked.  Murderbot is working as a security guard for a group of scientists assessing an alien planet, a simple enough assignment until everything goes horribly wrong and it is all Murderbot can do to keep its team alive.  I don't like lots of description of excitements, and though there were plenty of tense things happening here, I didn't feel burdened by too much action, which I appreciated lots.  Murderbot's character held center stage throughout.

So if you like character-driven sci fi, do try these!  I'm going to be pressing this one on my 15 year old son this weekend--the short length of the book makes it a friendly introduction to exo-planet sci fi for the young reader who doesn't read as much as I think he should!  (the last exo-planet story he read was The Green Book, by Jill Patton Walsh, which is very good and which he loved, but clearly it's time for something new!).  I think the tension between Murderbot's status as mechanical property and the person-ness that is just as much a fact of its being will appeal.


  1. Yayyyyyyy I am so glad you enjoyed Murderbot! I too am a fan, and I love reading about Murderbot's travails. It tries so hard not to have any people, but once it has people, it tries so hard to protect its people. Bless its heart.

  2. Yay! Glad you enjoyed it! I think Murderbot itself is one of the strongest and most engaging characters in anything I've read in the past few years. I've read the three published novellas and am so eager for the fourth (and final, I think?) to come out!

  3. Yay the third! i also loved Murderbot, though I haven't reviewed it... I might press it on my own teen son who doesn't read enough, too. He's just finishing up Obsidio, and something short might be just the ticket.

  4. Isn't it the CUTEST??? I love this book so much. I have the other TWO on the horizon... soonish. So many books...


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