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

This book delighted me. All Systems Red provides thought-provoking characters and ideas without sacrificing a single bit of fun. It’s both enjoyable and insightful, especially about personhood.

This series came highly recommended to me by fellow sci-fi enthusiasts. For this first book, I checked out the audiobook narrated by Kevin R. Free. Based on the strength of this first entry in the Murderbot Diaries, I will go ahead and buy the attractive box set of the physical books. I would like to keep them handy to read and to share.

The titular “Murderbot” is a security android created for and utilized by the not-at-all-ominously named The Company. SecUnits are partially organic, partially mechanical entities required to accompany surveyors as they look for resources across the solar system. (The Company feels very much like the Weyland-Yutani Corporation from the Alien movies.)

With titles like Murderbot and The Company flying around, one can quickly guess that things aren’t quite what they seem and that this particular survey mission isn’t going to go as planned. For anyone. Dram and action ensue!

The plot was brisk and interesting enough, but what I loved the most was my buddy Murderbot. MB (my nickname) has a distinct personality, a sense of humor, and a drive for self-knowledge. However, it has no desire to be more “human” or to ingratiate itself with its human overlords. It would rather be left alone. Mostly. That is one of the main things that I found interesting about both the Murderbot character and the book. It could read as a metaphor for outsiders, or people who are treated as Other. But that’s not all this is. Murderbot’s personhood is larger than being a metaphor for something else. Even though MB wants to be left alone, it is compelling.