May 15, 2018
MarkBernstein.org
 

All Systems Red

All Systems Red
Martha Wells

(order)

(May 15, 2018)

The narrator of this Hugo-nominated novella is a construct — a cyborg security agent. He works for the company, and (though he doesn’t know it) he owes a lot to Hammett’s Continental Op. He doesn’t like his work: he calls himself “murderbot”. He doesn’t like the company, and he certainly didn’t like the way the company could control him through his governor module. So, he disconnected it.

Most android stories follow Pinocchio in assuming that a nearly-human construct would want to be human, and want people to accept them as human. Murderbot doesn't. He doesn’t like people: his clients are stupid and stubborn, they tell him what to do, they inconvenience him by getting into danger when he’d really much rather be watching episode 297 of Sanctuary Moon. He doesn’t want to be more human; he wants humans to leave him alone.

Very well done, and pertinent to my Hypertext 2018 paper on “As We May Hear: our slaves of steel II” which explores some new questions on how we treat computational agents and environments.