REVIEW: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

I started listening to All Systems Red on Scribd with the hopes of passing some time listening to something fun and simple while doing kitchen chores. Boy, was I wrong. I ended up not only cleaning the kitchen, reorganizing the pantry, fridge, cooking dinner, and meals for the next day in the hopes of listening to as much of this as possible before having to put it away for the night. It is a compulsive and addictive read. Once you start reading it, it is so short and exciting you will not want to stop till you get to the end.

All Systems Red is a perfect and tidy story. When I say tidy, it isn’t derogatory. Novellas have to get a lot done in a short amount of time. The author needs to convey a thought, history, emotion, narrative, and plot progression. So all of the choices the author makes need to be concise and tidy. In Martha Wells’ All Sytems Red, she created an exceptional character in Murderbot, Murderbot being the name he calls himself. He is cynical, confused, and courageous but more than anything, he seems very human. This character works quite well within the context of a novella because the reading audience has a cultural dialog regarding machines with human emotions, i.e., The Terminator. There isn’t a lot of groundwork to be laid, we already have a feel for what this scenario could look like. Murderbot is an artificial life form with organic components, and these components work in tandem with its artificial ones to create the perfect killing machine.

How life works for the Murderbot is that he is deployed on contract through his host company, The Company. In the first installment of the quadrilogy of short stories, Murderbot is protecting and defending a group of scientists and geographers on an inhospitable planet. Murderbot hacks his mainframe to start making independent choices aside from is company programming. Most of his decisions consist of which type of soap opera to watch on the entertainment channels available at his outpost. However, when another outpost on the same planet gets attacked, Murderbot needs to step in to protect the scientists that he has become attached to. What plays out over the brief story is exciting scenes, great dialog (both internal and external), and an excellent plot jump to the next novella.

I loved this, and it is easily understood why the author received so many well-deserved accolades. All Systems Red is funny and enjoyable.

Originally published on Before We Go blog.

Read All Systems Red by Martha Wells

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Elizabeth Tabler

Elizabeth Tabler

Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: