40 pages 1 hour read

Martha Wells

All Systems Red

Fiction | Novella | Adult | Published in 2017

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Important Quotes

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“I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites.”

(Chapter 1, Page 9)

The first sentence establishes Murderbot’s first-person point of view and the two poles of its identity that provide its internal struggle for the remainder of the novella. The first line also establishes the novella’s humorous tone and the fact that Murderbot has hacked its governor module, another key aspect of its characterization.

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“They don’t give murderbots decent education modules on anything except murdering, and even those are the cheap versions.”

(Chapter 1, Page 13)

Throughout the text, Murderbot refers to its shoddy software and the fact that the company intentionally cuts corners on everything from its systems to hardware. The theme of education returns at the end of the novella when Murderbot gets the opportunity to pursue educational opportunities as a free agent, but it ultimately rejects those opportunities.

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“So, I’m awkward with actual humans. It’s not paranoia about my hacked governor module, and it’s not them; it’s me. I know I’m a horrifying murderbot, and they know it, and it makes both of us nervous, which makes me even more nervous.”

(Chapter 1, Page 20)

Wells humorously changes the science fiction trope of the android that wants to be human with Murderbot’s characterization as a robot that finds its humanity and interaction with humans awkward and undesirable. Murderbot has a distorted self-concept as being monstrous due to its guilt about murdering a mining crew. As the narrative shows, the people around Murderbot are welcoming and have a positive attitude toward it.

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By Martha Wells

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