I’m not the biggest fan of science fiction and fantasy (open for recommendations) but I do have my favorites in this genre: Catherine Asaro’s Skolia series and Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of the Labyrinths series. That’s it. So, I picked up Martha Well’s novella All System’s Red (2017) after reading a review (like we always do). I wasn’t disappointed. In fact the author just throws you right into the action without explaining everything in the beginning. I admit to being confused in those brief seconds of decision to stop or continue going, I decided to keep going and I’m glad I did. I’m reminded that Sarah Monette did the same thing in her series so in good hands, this works. I’m not all that familiar with the style and construct of science fiction novels so if this a normal thing, to get thrown into the action without explaining much then this story isn’t any different. The storytelling is wonderful. The story’s length isn’t more than 144 pages and a one sitting read because the author builds up momentum throughout each chapter and I couldn’t put it down.
The narrator describes herself as a Murderbot, “a heartless killing machine.” She’s a company construct built from organic parts and metal parts. Being a free agent is important to her. That’s why she hacked her governor module and from page 1 she’s been calling the shots without her human clients all the wiser. She’s a bad ass and when she exited the story at its conclusion, I wanted to follow her to her next adventure. In All Systems Red, while providing security to her human clients on an uninhabited planet, they are violently attacked. The suspense built from the who and the why as they investigate what happened and find out who is targeting them while trying to get off the planet alive.
Murderbot is the star of the story. She likes to hide herself behind her helmet and doesn’t like to show her emotions. She doesn’t want to interact with humans, either, “[k]eeping the armor on all the time cuts down on unnecessary interaction”she comes to care about some of her human clients. So this story touches a little on self-identity and goes into the territory of what makes someone human? or something like that. Hopefully she’ll get a name other than Murderbot. Anyway, I enjoyed this story very much because of the narrator, the humor and the action and rated this a 5/5. It’s a quick read and well thought out. I recently bought this one as an impulse buy on August 11th of this year based on another reader’s review.