All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries

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Wells, Martha. All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries No. 1. New York: Tor, 2017. 160 pages. Available as an audiobook (to which the Initial Compiler listened).

Sequels: Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, of four planned.[1]

Relevance for the Wiki indicated amidst praise of this long novella or short novel by Jason Sheehan in his review, "Sulky, Cynical 'Murderbot' Is One Of Sci-Fi's Most Human Characters," NPR website, 27 January 2019.[2]

As much as you want to think this is just some lightweight little confection made of robot fights and space murder — and as much as All Systems Red wants to present itself as nothing but robot fights and space murder — Martha Wells did something really clever. She hid a delicate, nuanced and deeply, grumpily human story inside these pulp trappings, by making her murderous robot story primarily character-driven. And the character doing the driving?
Murderbot.
Murderbot is a SecUnit — a partly-organic, mostly-robotic security guard of unspecified gender, owned by The Company and leased out as a mandatory part of any service package bought by anyone wanting to go out and explore the many worlds in Wells's universe. But Murderbot is special, because it has disabled the governor built into its programming that requires it to obey the orders of The Company and whoever is leasing it. It has essentially given itself free will.

See for the theme of the cyborg (and less directly augmentation through prosthetics), and the issue of gendering robots, e.g., Arachne. Note discussion among the human characters of the personhood of the SecUnit and the probable conviction of the our-world audience that he/she/it is a person, functioning as protagonist-narrator, with complex attitudes toward the humans and with a taste for tacky adventure media, such as the audience members have to enjoy the book, as it presents itself (especially when listening to the audiobook: consumption of "media" like that enjoyed by Murderbod).

Note scenes of Murderbot healing/maintaining itself after injuries; cf. and contrast scene of T-800 working on itself in THE TERMINATOR.


RDE, Initial Compiler, 10Feb19