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.