All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)All Systems Red by Martha Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SecUnit is a rebuilt murderbot rented out as security to an NGO survey team exploring a new planet. It was designed as a ruthless killing machine, but prefers to sit in its cubicle and watch the entertainment feed, especially Sanctuary Moon, which appears to be some sort of sci-fi telenovela. SecUnit (he? she? it?) tells the story of the survey in the first person as all hell breaks loose. The new planet is not uninhabited and dangers await. We find SecUnit to be painfully shy about showing any emotion and almost apologetic that it feels an obligation to actually protect its clients. A murderbot, it seems, is mostly robotic but also has “organic” (never “human”, god forbid) parts, although without its armor and inorganic parts showing, it can pass for one. Its worst nightmare is having to converse with humans, make eye contact, and answer their questions about whether it is okay and especially how it is feeling. Entering into mortal combat with man-eating fauna or other murderbots is all in a day’s work, but showing emotion? … no way. Despite all its denials, SecUnit’s soft heart peeks through.

The book is ridiculously short and all fluff, but I really enjoyed it. All the artificial techspeak about feeds and hubs and governor modules and beacons is very well done and somehow plausible if you let yourself suspend disbelief and enter into the story. It’s the first in a series (The Murderbot Diaries) but I doubt I’ll read more of them. Any future ones are bound to be a disappointment after this charming introduction.

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