All Systems Red: Murderbot Diaries #1
by Martha Wells
This is the first book by Martha Wells I’ve read, and it will NOT be the last. (At a minimum, I will be reading more of this series. It is awesome. I am including quotes from the book to prove to you just how awesome.) I don’t know why Wells wasn’t on my radar before Murderbot, because she’s got a long backlist, but whatever the reason I know about her now.
Also, the books themselves are lovely. I picked up the hardcover version, and Tor did a great job with the binding. This is staying on my keeper shelf for sure.
… the planet’s atmosphere was breathable, just not particularly good for humans for the long term. I don’t know why, because it’s one of those things I’m not contractually obligated to care about.
In the first 16 pages (the first subsection of Chapter One) Wells gives us a great intro to the world which tells us essentially everything we need to know in order to get started in this world, and she does it without once seeming like an info dump. This is a book to read not only to enjoy the story, but also to learn to hone your writing craft. This novella won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and you can see why. Such a well-written piece.
I know I’m a horrifying murderbot, and they know it, and it makes both of us nervous, which makes me even more nervous. Also, if I’m not in the armor then it’s because I’m wounded and one of my organic parts may fall off and plop on the floor at any moment and no one wants to see that.
This is told entirely from the first person perspective of Murderbot, and it means that we have the information it has but nothing else. For example, we know that Murderbot has a face, but not what it looks like. (This is fine, as Murderbot isn’t human and so doesn’t care what it looks like. But it took me a long time to figure out that I didn’t know if Murderbot looked male, female, or androgynous.)
… you may have noticed that when I do manage to care, I’m a pessimist.
I love that this is almost a coming-of-age story for Murderbot. I can’t go into really any of the story’s details without spoilers, but it’s a short enough novella that you can read it all for yourself very quickly. (I read it over the course of a single morning. And now I need to go buy the rest of the series.)
This novella is snarky and fun and incredibly well-crafted. Why did it take me this long to read it? If you haven’t read it yet, go pick it up. It’s worth it.
Rating: 5 stars