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Diary of a reluctant killing machine

Cover of All Systems Red
A review of All Systems Red by Martha Wells

"I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites. It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering, but probably, I don't know, a little under 35,000 hours of movies, serials, books, plays and music consumed. As a heartless killing machine, I was a terrible failure."

So opens All Systems Red as narrated by Murderbot a self-aware android who spends its down time consuming pop culture - while also doing the job it was assigned, guarding a team of scientists on a survey mission to a new planet. So far that job has been super-boring so MB has plenty of time to catch up on the latest episodes of its favorite shows. But boredom is put aside when a couple of the team members are attacked by a large, unknown animal. The attack itself is bad enough, but when MB and the team try to figure out where the creature came from, they realize the information they were given about the planet is incomplete. The first couple of discrepancies seem easily explained as the "Company" they all work for is notorious for cutting any budgetary corners it can. But the more they investigate, the more they begin to suspect that something more nefarious is at work.

I've been hearing good things about this one for a while. It's won a Nebula and an Alex award and was nominated for a Hugo. And all those good things are true. This fast-paced, clever novella is everything it's cracked up to be. There's action, humor and heart to spare. Now having finally read it, I can't wait to get my hands on the next in MB's adventures, Artificial Condition.

Jul 5, 2018