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Publisher's Summary

All Systems Red is the tense first science fiction adventure novella in Martha Wells' series The Murderbot Diaries. For fans of Westworld, Ex Machina, Ann Leckie's Imperial Raadch series, or Iain M. Banks' Culture novels.

All Systems Red tackles questions of the ethics of sentient robotics. The main character is a deadly security droid that has bucked its restrictive programming and is balanced between contemplative self-discovery and an idle instinct to kill all humans.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn't a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied 'droid - a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as "Murderbot."

Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

©2017 Martha Wells (P)2017 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I LOVE MURDERBOT

This book was just what I needed to get my out of a recent listening rut. I had been pouring through longer literary fiction type stuff that was really heady and then I started this on a whim and it was a sheer delight.

The world-building is immaculate, the plot is solid and well-paced, but most importantly MURDERBOT. S/HE is the man. I'm assuming he's a man because of the narrator's voice, but I think he's just an asexual SEC Unit that is supposed to be a killing machine but just wants to watch movies.

So relateable. And I just really love how Martha Wells crafts the environment kind of secondarily, you don't even notice that she is describing and explaining details about the world because it all takes a back seat to Murderbot's sardonic, sarcastic observations.

I had only two issues with this story.

1. It is too short
2. The ending is abrupt! It could have been flushed out a lot more, but just kind of cut off.

Now I'm left hoping for a sequel, hopefully one that has a little more meat, because this stuff is delicious.

76 of 82 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

All Systems Red does not disappoint.

All Systems Red is the first Murderbot Diary, the adventures of a cyborg security unit who hacked its governor module, named itself “Murderbot” and promptly got addicted to streaming media.

This is its account of its adventures trying to keep a group of human scientists alive on a hostile and unknown world without them figuring out it has free will and leaving itself enough time to watch its soaps. The novella is sharp and witty, with a wry sense of humor and a sharp eye for what makes someone sentient and how freedom doesn’t always mean the same thing to different beings.

Kevin R Free as the narrator does a decent job, but somehow seems to miss the point of Murderbot. Murderbot sounds like a human in its own head, it’s a cyborg, it only pretends to be a robot for the humans. Free has it acting robotic all the time and I thought that made the wry humor a little harder to enjoy. Still it’s a great story with well-rounded characters and I recommend the print and audible versions highly.

56 of 69 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

My New Favorite Anti-Social Killing Machine!

All Systems Red, the first installment in Martha Wells' The Murderbot Diaries and winner of the 2018 Hugo, Locus, and Nebula Awards, is a heck of a lot of fun. This is a novella, so the premise is pretty simple - a rogue android has to help keep the humans who have contracted it for security alive during a planetary survey mission. Naturally, Wells inserts a few wrinkles along the way that point to something larger and more nefarious. A murderbot has to earn its pay, after all.

What separates All Systems Red from the pack of droid hero science fiction is the character of Murderbot itself. Murderbot has hacked the governor module that controls and dictates its behavior, making it a free agent, if not for the fact that it has to hide this tidbit of information from its human employers. Despite being fully self-aware and keenly intelligent, Murderbot is still listed as inventory in the Company that contracts it out for security services, so certain ruses must be maintained if Murderbot doesn't want to see itself reformatted and re-enslaved to its corporate masters.

Murderbot may not be human, although it does have some fleshy components, but it is most decidedly a person. Wells gives enough depth to Murderbot to make it sympathetic, relying on the android's personality and issues of human bias and notions of superiority in our historical dealings with artificial intelligences to give us a healthy degree of perspective on where exactly Murderbot is coming from.

And where Murderbot is coming from is decidedly simple - it hates humans and just wants to be left alone to watch its favorite downloaded television shows. Never before have I found an artificial intelligence to be so utterly relatable! While I can fully sympathize with Murderbot's ambitions, it's pretty damn hilarious listening to its encounters with its new human crew and their attempts to humanize a wryly grumpy killing machine, and how Murderbot responds to such showings of support and empathy. The scientific team it is charged with protecting is nicely drama free, but Wells manages to wring a good bit of emotive action out of how Murderbot and its crew respond to each other. Wells doesn't get deeply philosophical about the nature of life, intelligence, and free will, but she does raise a few poignant issues worth thinking about over the course of this short book.

Experiencing All Systems Red in audiobook format, though, leaves me slightly conflicted. It took me a while to warm to Kevin R. Free's narration, and while his reading here is serviceable I wish it were more engaging. Murderbot actually has feelings - it gets angry, its gets sarcastic, and it knows when it needs to be emotionally manipulative to draw out desired responses from the humans around it. Free's reading is dry and largely monotone; this makes for a dull listen despite Murderbot being anything but a dull character. I wish Free would have taken a livelier approach to the material, but I did eventually come around to his style - not enough to rave about his vocal showmanship, but enough that I'm still interested in pursuing this series in audio rather than switching over to print (at least for book two).

Although the narration didn't do the story justice, the character of Murderbot is most definitely one worth paying attention to and has me eager to sink straight into Artificial Condition next. I can't wait to see what further hijinks my new favorite anti-social killing machine gets up to!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Loved It!

What a darling little story about this poor little, very sensitive “murder bot” with a mind of his own, loves to watch TV serials, and is quite a bit more human than he would like to believe. Like Dr. Mensa in the story I totally fell in love with this little guy and was rooting for him all the way to the end. Great narration! Kevin Free breathes life into this character, really making him come alive. Short and sweet, a good choice for when time is limited.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Extraordinary

This is really original SF and it kept me on the edge of my seat. It's a short, concentrated read - the opposite of the bloated space operas that are so common now - nothing extra, through so much is hinted at and alluded to, a much larger story provides context. There is nothing in excess. The Hemingway of SF? Highest quality writing, originality and reading. I can't wait for more in this universe, because the main character is truly fascinating, and clearly will be growing and changing during well-told adventures.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Murderbot needs new voice

This book, when read, is lively, highly intelligent, incredibly fun read. Somehow, this narrator sucks all of that joy out of it, and his obvious struggles with the names of the other characters is an issue. There's no *life* to this character who, for all that he is indeed a robot, is incredibly alive. Deeply sarcastic, the voice in my head when I read the book is full of intelligence, deadpan line delivery, perfect timing and wit. This narrator isn't. Please, please redo this book with the narrator it deserves. Wil Wheaton? Peter Kenney? So many other choices... but this one does this story, which deserves to shine, no favors.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A robot too human and humans too robotic

I rarely write a negative review. This book has earned it. The plot was uninteresting and the characters were completely undeveloped and lacking personality. The robot behaved completely human like a brooding teenager from a YA novella.

The narrator appears as uninspired as the book and lacks the energy to bring these anorexic characters to life.

The positive criticism I can provide is that I am glad it was such a short book because I was agonizingly aware of the passage of time. Very disappointed with this purchase.

42 of 54 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Cute idea and story, if slightly awkward writing.

A cute little novella, with an interesting central idea and fun, if slightly unpolished- and awkward-feeling writing. Not the best book ever, but definitely worth the read. I look forward to more, especially if the author's writing becomes a little more practiced, as often occurs.

The narrator was okay. Character voices were a little inconsistent, and the wasn't always clear what dialogue was spoken and what was part of the main character's extensive internal monologue - though to be fair, that seems like a tough task for any narrator.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I just wish all four stories were one book...

Martha Wells tells a great story, with a fantastic protagonist that I can genuinely relate to. While many people might think of a sci fi setting and picture themselves as a dating adventure hero, I think Murderbot might be the closest thing to how I would picture myself in such a setting; uncomfortable talking to people, would rather be relaxing and enjoying books or movies than pretty much anything else, and when called upon to do battle, might just have 40-60% of my body shot off. I enjoyed every bit of the story.

The good news is that it's a short novels, so I can easily listen to it again. The bad news is that all 4 of the novellas in the series cost as much as full-length books, which means it costs 4 credits (or $ equivalent) to get as much content as you would get in 1 or 2 standard novels. That part burns a bit, but all in all, still probably worth it.

#tagsgiving #sweepstakes

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Three hours, really?

interesting story, but at a mere three hours long, the characters didn't get developed enough for me. Not a bad book, just a short book. To paraphrase Randy Newman, "Short novels got no reason to live"

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • D. Marsh
  • 05-14-18

Well written & narrated, but short for 1 credit

Nice robot perspective story and it kept me listening, a nice and calm narrator. Will be looking into the next in the series, but at 3 hours long unsure if it justifies one whole credit 😊

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • L
  • 05-02-18

Yay, Murderbot!

Never did I think I'd be rooting for a character called "Murderbot", but here we are. This is such a fun, interesting book. The whole cast of characters, large for such a short book, was compelling and three-dimensional. I can't wait for the next instalment!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • nicole
  • 01-09-18

Goodreads choice awards nominee sci fi 2017

I started this expecting a fun listen with a silly plot, well it's fun alright but the plot was so much better than I expected. Murderbot has hacked it's controls and finds itself stranded on a remote planet with terrible things happening all around it and now to top it all off, the latest group of humans it has been assigned to guard, actually want to interact with it. People throw big names around like custard pies sticking to a wall when they are trying to explain (or sell) books like this and they often have very little to do with the actual author or story beyond the genre it's in. Since they've really overdone it with this one I will say that in my opinion the story is most like something I would expect from John Scalzi (the less crude stories like The Dispatcher and Old Man's War - note this is not a judgment, I love most of Scalzi's books, this is for comparison only) with a touch of Ann Leckie. I'm not going to tell you much about the actual story beyond this because I don't see any point in spoiling the plot. 5* story, will be listening to again and can't wait for the next.

Narration is harder to mark. My problem is that I love this narrator's work. I listen to a lot of different stuff and he does one of my favorite series the Holmes and Moriarity books by Josh Lanyon (fun and sarcastic murder mystery/romance, between two men, one of whom has been a previously top selling writer of a long running series/sometimes amateur detective and the other of whom is an ex cop/ current incredibly successful author who thinks things should be left with the police. The point being that Kevin R. Free is very good at over the top and funny, while still managing to make the best of a great plot, so I was surprised that his performance here was a little flat in comparison, particularly when voicing Murderbots' thoughts as opposed to voice (perhaps the editor directed him to do it that way). The narrator has a beautiful voice in my opinion and while it's not immediately apparent he can soften his tone enough for a real range of emotion to come through. This also helps with managing to do distinct voices for the main characters without putting on silly characters for the women, which I always appreciate. 3 1/2* but going up to 4 nearer the end. I hope they keep him for subsequent stories where he can really come into his own.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • G. P. Brown
  • 12-21-17

Fantastic!

Martha Wells's fantastic sci-fi novella All Systems Red was one of my favourite finds of all 2017. It was everything an AI sci-fi story should be and then some! It was thought provoking but also entertaining and engaging.

The world building and plot were both good but it was the lead character, Murderbot, who stole the show. Murderbot was a great lead character and was very easy to root for. Its mission was to keep the humans on its team safe but that did not mean this socially anxious security android had to like them or want to spend any more time with them than it absolutely had to.

All in all I loved this novella and will definitely be trying more of Martha Wells books in the future. The only flaw in this whole story was that it was only a novella rather than a full novel. I wanted more of Murderbot and this fascinating world!

Rating: 5 stars.

Keven Free was nothing special but he did do an acceptable job with the audio.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 05-11-18

A socially awkward Murderbot is endearing.

Not a great SciFi reader but I enjoyed this a lot. The protagonist made story for me. My only complaint is that it felt short and end sort of lackluster bit that just made me want to read the next installment more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Wras
  • 01-05-18

Do weapons systems dream of the wild west?

A fast-paced shoot up, who done it, with no philosophical ramifications unless you have been living under a rock for the past fifty years.
Fun fast read that will not stay in the long-term memory circuitry.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Xdresser
  • 09-30-18

Excellent gripping adventure with a convincing non human hero

A murder bot is acting as a security guard to human explorers on a mystery planet. Unknown to them he has hacked his governor and is capable of independent action. Heavily armed he could have become a mass murderer. Instead he risks his own existence to protect them from destruction. First of a series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • "ballbearing"
  • 08-18-18

Fun and short

Was fun and shorter than I usually listen to. I will listen to it again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Captain Creosote
  • 06-09-18

Wham Bam thank you Martha!

Although short its a bloody great story, I got it on a two for one deal so it only cost me half a credit.

Its really well narrated and flows well, the characters are well formed for such a short story and the action is at just the right pace, I'll be checking out some of her other stuff for sure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 12-03-17

neat little book- more to come i expect

there are two more books coming according to the author whom I emailed. Nice woman. I thought halfway through that it would be more testing for humans if the murderbot was not humanoid. I am a sucker for an android or gynoid, but what about a sentient machine that looks like a mini cooper for instance would we want that to be our friend?

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-23-18

Saving the rest of the story for vol 2 I guess

Interesting story but just ends half way through. Tone of narration is a bit meh

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark Doyle
  • 12-13-18

Humans arnt.to be trusted

Hang out with the humans? or stay in the cargo pod?
mmm....easy choice.
I burned through this audiobook, darkly funny, action packed.
If you are somewhere on the spectrum, gay or just seriously distrust people, this book is for you.
I know who I was barracking for.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Alexandra
  • 08-04-18

Enjoyable story with a pleasant voice

Fun and enjoyable story, with a pleasant narrator.
I would have liked the narrator to play on the humour of the writing a little better, but it was absolutely acceptable.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • SG
  • 09-15-18

good listen

liked it a lot, although ending was sudden, narrator was pretty good, compelled to listen whenever possible til end.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful