All Systems Red
By Martha Wells
On WordPress I follow a couple of blogs. Not too many. I pick them based on content, length of post, frequency, interest. For writers, I follow Whatever by John Scalzi and Filling the Well by Carrie Vaughn, among others.
Recently, I was reading Ms. Vaughn’s site and came across a little comment about a book called All Systems Red. I checked it out on kindle, found it was a Hugo nominee and bought it for four bucks.
Best four bucks I’ve spent all year. Including that tall double mocha latte at Starbucks (there are all kinds of social commentary you could make about that statement, but let’s leave it alone for now).
All Systems Red is a novelette, not a full length novel, maybe 170 pages (not sure on the kindle exactly). It’s a story of a constructed cyborg, so it has both meat and mechanical parts, looks largely human, but was not born. The character was very human, however, which brought up a lot of questions for me, which I hope will be satisfyingly explained in later novels (three more books will be released every couple of months). The construct has shut of its own governor, which does just what you’d think, govern its behavior. So, since it has shut off its governor, it has autonomy. It also seems to have a conscience.
That conscience is just alien enough that I could suspend disbelief. But it was still very human. Apparently, before the events of this story, the cyborg was ordered to kill a lot of people, which it did. As a result, it calls itself Murderbot. When it has a choice, however, it doesn’t seem to want to murder anyone.
The story itself was pretty straightforward. Someone is trying to kill the team that Murderbot is tasked with protecting. Murderbot helps to uncover the bad guys. They escape. Newfound friends are saved. Murderbot is freed of the governor. All is right with the world.
Or is it? The mystery of the cyborg’s past is still unclear. And as soon as Murderbot is freed, it leaves the new friends without so much as a thank you. So I suspect that there will be lots to reveal in future books.
I’d never read any Martha Wells before, but I can tell you I will be reading more.