Book Buzz Episode 17 – All Systems Red & Viral Justice

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Air date: Oct. 1, 2023

Check Out The Books

All Systems Red

Viral Justice

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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz.

Today's reading recommendations include science fiction and non-fiction.

First, we’re going to hear from Bryan, manager of the Clinton Library, for a futuristic tale. Take it away, Bryan.


Get ready for an interplanetary, AI, action-packed novella in “All Systems Red” by Martha Wells.

SecUnit is a cyborg security unit that humans have deployed when conducting scientific expeditions on dangerous planets. But SecUnit managed to hack itself to go rogue and no longer has to do what the humans tell it to. And if the humans would just stop making stupid choices that are going to get themselves killed, maybe it could finally finish binge-watching the new shows it just downloaded.

In fact, nobody knows that SecUnit actually calls itself Murderbot. There’s a bigger story here as well, involving malicious corporations and the ethical dilemmas of sentient technology, but I love this book because the protagonist is so much fun to be annoyed with.

At first I was concerned that I found a snarky, murderous cyborg to be so relatable, but it’s hard not to give in to Murderbot’s charm, and Martha Wells has crafted a fast-paced, incredibly fun read. And this is just book one! The missions that unfold for the team are a blast to follow as Murderbot meticulously hacks and lays traps for its opponents, and its constant frustration with the humans feels like an annoyed parent rolling their eyes and swooping in to save all the teenagers in a cheesy horror movie. This has become a great escape read for me that I love to revisit.


Thanks, Bryan. AI is definitely taking over our “To Be Read” lists. I’ve heard great things about the Murderbot series –  this sounds very fun!

Next, let’s hear from Abby, librarian at the Arlington Library, to learn about making the world a better place. Go ahead, Abby.


“Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want” by Ruha Benjamin is a book that highlights the myriad of ways in which people from any and all parts of our society can come together in community to plant a better tomorrow for us all to share.

What Benjamin terms “viral justice” is truly an inspiring demonstration of the ways that seemingly minor decisions and habits in individual lives can spread “virally” and create exponentially positive changes to our world.

The author describes the book as, “born of a stubborn hopefulness” and she brings that hopefulness to discussions about public schools, journalism, technology, judicial and penal systems, academia and even childbirth.

While she does lay bare unflinching statistics about race, technology, and the unseen labor hidden behind the glossy apps meant to simplify our lives, she also shows examples of the concrete ways people have used their own skills and strengths to foster positive changes in their communities.

From community gardening renegades planting food in small city spaces to business owners modeling for-profit-sharing that truly changes their employees' lives, to gig workers forming collectives to bargain for better working conditions, Ruha Benjamin shows us that everyone has power to create positive changes in the world around us.

The book will leave you feeling inspired and determined in the best possible way.


Thanks, Abby! I love the idea of stubborn hopefulness and I’m already inspired to start making positive changes.

Our recommendations this week are: “All Systems Red” by Martha Wells and “Viral Justice” by Ruha Benjamin.

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations – interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER.

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