The Philip K. Dick award will be announced March 30, 2018, in Seattle, WA. The award is presented annually to a distinguished work of science fiction originally published in paperback form in the United States. This post is the second in a series of reviews of the nominees for this year’s Philip K. Dick awards. The other nominees are Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty, Revenger by Alastair Reynolds, The Book of Etta by Meg Elison, After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun, The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt, and Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn.
Martha Wells’ All Systems Red won me over almost immediately. I began the first page with reservations and by page three I was charmed into complete immersion.
I’m not kidding when I say I read this book in almost one sitting. I was so comfortable in this book, so reluctant to surface from my reading bubble, at one point I tried to get my cat to flip the light switch for me – the sun had gone down and I couldn’t keep reading without the light, but I didn’t want to stop even for a minute. That said, this is absolutely an easy “one sitting” read.
The characters are full and entertaining, the central concept as clearly brought to life as is the world Wells has created. Honestly, I cannot believe how much emotion and life Martha Wells effortlessly fit into 150 pages. I’ve referred before to authors whose “magic” lies in this accomplishment or that skill, and to me this is Wells’ skill: she puts not only a fully realized narrative and cast of characters in a tiny package, but creates what feels like a living, breathing world and narrative arcs readers will invest in into a travel sized snack of a book!
One of the things I watch out for as I’m reading is how quickly I can get “into” a new book. This is partly down to author’s style and voice, and partly down to how quickly the author introduces me to the characters, the story, and the universe. I fell into All Systems Red effortlessly. I was not only hooked, but fully invested in the characters and completely oriented and acclimatized in the universe before I had time to realize what was happening to me.
All in all, Martha Wells put together a romp of a tale in All Systems Red, and I cannot wait to read more. Thank goodness there’s not one but two more books coming our way in 2018:
Note: I read Martha Wells’ charming story All Systems Red on a whim back in July of 2017. I revisited it recently in order to write this review, which is based on the notes I wrote after that first read.