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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

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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.

46 of 47 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    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.

44 of 48 people found this review helpful

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    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.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful choice

This is a fabulous, stand alone sci-fi about AI, kind off, including a mystery. The mystery was not that engaging, but the characters carried the story. Very comfortable narrator, a perfect choice for the story. The ending was a surprise. All around great listen. I hope this author has more.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Come for the bot, stay for the humor.

If you could sum up All Systems Red in three words, what would they be?

Surprisingly little murder.

What other book might you compare All Systems Red to and why?

I don’t know if I can compare it to anything else

What does Kevin R. Free bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Few people can pull off dry humor, but Kevin nails it.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The ending. The whole book rides a line of humanizing a machine, and it ends in a way that pulls it to one side.

Any additional comments?

Not at this time.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Nice short novella, read very pleasantly.

I liked the story, even though it's not anything new. It's tightly written, never menages to get boring or redundant. What I like a lot is how it was read: almost dryly, without any voice fluctuations.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Unexpectedly wonderful

This story just grabbed me. And how could you just not love Murderbot even if it didn't love you.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very good listen!

I really enjoyed this book. Only downside was that it ended too soon, I wish it was longer! I really hope there will be more of Murderbot's adventures to come.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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

ended way to soon

this story was way too short. it left me wanting more. Wish it would have delved more into what, where, when and why more than it did.

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Profile Image for nicole
  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Mark
  • 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 1 people found this review helpful