Book review: All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) – Martha Wells


Novellas published by Tor rarely miss the target for this reader, and although I wasn’t too sure about All Systems Red initially, I stuck with it and finished quickly with a smile upon my face (sounds a bit sexual that, doesn’t it?!)

All Systems Red is the story of a security android that wants nothing more than to keep a low profile and watch streamed television (hey! don’t we all?!). I haven’t read anything by Wells before, but the premise for this intrigued me. I am not a science fiction reader, but wanted to venture out of my comfort zone and the novella length meant it wouldn’t be a huge investment time-wise should I not dig it.

The concept of the story isn’t exactly original: a group of scientists goes to investigate a neighbouring team that has gone awfully quiet, but it is the excellent pacing, the androids thoughts and reflections and the action that keeps you on your toes. Initially, I wasn’t too sold on the idea of the snarky android but somehow the machines personality won me over, thanks in part to Wells’ writing which is crisp, realistic and never dull or info-dumpy, which I find some science fiction can be. There are times when I thought the android was perhaps more human than the scientists it’s providing security for. The android is quite the introvert and I think I saw many parallels with myself, and looking back now, I think this is the main reason for me enjoying it as much as I did.

I believe it’s the sign of a good writer and a good story when you finish a book and immediately take a look at when the next one is released. The story has a lot of heart, particularly at the end, and on reflection, All Systems Red is an engaging book, short but sweet and has no down-time between chapters. I am on-board for the next one, for sure.

4/5 damaged microchips from the Grim Reader.

Pick up a copy from here.

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