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 as 'Murderbot.' Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
This book is sneaky. 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 ... I'm not alone in my love for Murderbot...we are all a little bit Murderbot...we see ourselves in its skin...reading about this sulky, soap-opera-loving cyborg killing machine might be one of the most human experiences you can have in sci-fi right now.
While it’s short, this book packs a nice punch, and nicely sets up a great playground for countless other adventures ... a pretty basic story, but it’s a fun read that feels a bit like a throwback to the science fiction stories of the 1960s and ‘70s ... While it’s a fun read, what’s most promising about this novella is that it feels like a tiny step into a much larger universe. There’s elements of hard science fiction in its world-building, cool robots, space corporation intrigue, and an ending that signals that there’s more to come.
Wells gives depth to a rousing but basically familiar action plot by turning it into the vehicle by which SecUnit engages with its own rigorously denied humanity. The creepy panopticon of SecUnit’s multiple interfaces allows a hybrid first-person/omniscient perspective that contextualizes its experience without ever giving center stage to the humans.