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All Systems Red
By Martha Wells

Discussed September 2019

Buy All Systems Red from


  • Murderbot
  • Mensah
  • Arada
  • Bharadwaj
  • Guranthin
  • Overse
  • Pin-Lee
  • Ratthi
  • Volescu
  • EvilSurvey (aka GrayCris)

"I do think of it as a person," Guranthin said. "An angry, heavily armored person who has no reason to trust us."


  1. Did you finish the book? Did you like it?
  2. All Systems Red and its sequel(s) have been referred to by some as being a single serialized novel rather than separate, self-contained novellas. Do you agree? Did you think All Systems Red stood on its own?
  3. Right from the start of the story, Murderbot is portrayed as a slightly unreliable narrator (not realizing that it asked Volescu about his family during the opening attack, until going back through the playback; claiming in the first sentence that the media feed is all that kept it from becoming a killing machine after hacking its governor module). What, if anything, did you doubt from Murderbot's perspective?
  4. Murderbot and Mensah's relationship is the first to form, with Murderbot turning to Mensah with additional information that isn't shared with the others. Murderbot would almost certainly characterize it as a level of respect; do you think this could be considered friendship? Is Murderbot emotionally capable of having friends?
  5. Murderbot describes constructs as follows: "It's wrong to think of a construct as half bot, half human. It makes it sound like the halves are discrete, like the bot half should want to obey orders and do its job and the human half should want to protect itself and get the hell out of here. As opposed to the reality, which was that I was one whole confused entity, with no idea what I wanted to do. What I should do. What I needed to do." Essayist Anya Johanna DeNiro has pointed to this as an example of Murderbot's emotions being similar to that of a trans person being on conflict with their own identity. What aspects of Murderbot (the character, not the series) do you see as being LGBT?
  6. When Murderbot is outed as having hacked its governor module, the overall reaction is almost immediate acceptance, with the one enhanced member of the team (Guranthin) being the one not immediately jumping on the bandwagon. What does it say that the least accepting of Murderbot is Murderbot?
  7. "I hate having emotions about reality; I'd much rather have them about Sanctuary Moon." Much of Murderbot's story feels like it could have come right out of its favorite show. (Murderbot's survival and having its contract bought out by PreservationAux, the overall acceptance of Murderbot, the surprise nature of Dr. Mensah's position within PreservationAux, etc.) Did these turns of events feel realistic to you? What about Murderbot's reactions to the real world versus the show?
  8. Will you read the other Murderbot Diaries novellas? If you've already read them, will you read the full novel coming out next year?
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