It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools.
Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again.
Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.
One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.
But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.
Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
I’ve only read one book by Becky Chambers before – To be Taught, if Fortunate – which was interesting and contemplative, so I decided to pick this new story be her, also because I have really come to appreciate the novella format. And this was just…. something !!!!
I won’t by any means call this a perfect book, but it was utterly perfect for me. Just like her previous book, the writing in this is also very calm, quiet, soothing, requiring a bit of introspection from the reader and also thought provoking. It may not be everyone’s speed but this slice of life story is just right if you are in the mood for it. Bex is a character whom I related to so much, because of the way they felt about their life and their struggles felt so familiar. The way they try to be a good listener to everyone and help others feel a bit better through their words, but is ultimately unable to feel better themselves – it just hit me too hard and I couldn’t stop reading because I badly wanted to know how they would ultimately come to terms with their feelings. And then entered Mosscap, a robot, and I can’t tell you how fascinating it is to listen to a human created object essentially give a philosophical sermon about life to a monk. But these life lessons about the meaning of purpose, and if it is really essential for a human being to have purpose to feel fulfilled and lead a meaningful life – is a question that is explored thoughtfully and I really appreciated that, because it is something I’m always thinking about. There may not be complete answers to these questions, but there’s enough thoughts to ponder about.
In the end, I don’t know whom to recommend this book to because it feels too personal to me. But I guess like what the author says in the dedication, pick this book up if you need a break from life. And in these times full of anxieties, not just about the pandemic but so many other issues, this short novella might just provide you some respite.
PS: Thank you to Netgalley and Tor for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.