Writing: 4/5 Characters: 5/5 Plot: 3.5/5 A small and definitely diverse family (consisting as it does of three robots and a small human) lives happily in a dense forrest finding discarded electronic treasures in the local (and wildly gigantic) scrap heap and refurbishing them. Two successful refurbishments are now part of the family: Rambo — the ultra-loquacious, ultra-needy, and anxiety plagued vacuum robot; and the truly twisted and psychopathic Nurse Ratched (Registered Automaton To Care, Heal, Educate and Drill) — possessed of a dry wit and an “Empathy Protocol” she engages to hysterical effect.
When they find a damaged (and very handsome) robot in the scrap and manage to bring him back to “life,” it unleashes the force of the Robot Authority — the same group that wiped out all humans because they were busily destroying each other and the Earth. A rescue mission into the City of Electric Dreams with the “help” of a wild cast of characters along the way and a gay, interspecies romance (if you count advanced robots as a species) round out the tale.
I liked the characters and the humor — laughed out loud many times. I really liked the ongoing philosophical discussions and thoughts — plenty of existential considerations and an exploration of what it means to human, sentient, and / or conscious. Guilt, forgiveness, grief, and joy and what it means to experience those emotions. A scrutiny of Morality in a wide gamut of situations. And lastly, what does it means for a species to evolve? I also loved the well-integrated cultural references, especially to one of my all time favorite movies (Top Hat — yes!). The adventure sequences went on a bit too long for my taste, though I admit they included some pretty creative beings and mechanisms and I’m not really into ANY adventure sequences, so …
Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on April 25th, 2023
200 years after The Awakening — when sentient robots left the abusive factories for the wilderness, rejecting further contact with humans — a human and robot meet in a twist on the traditional “First Contact” story. Sibling Dex — a gender neutral monk, meets Mossbank — a sentient “wild-built” robot whose family tree boasts several generations of wild-built individuals descending from16 factory bots. What follows is short on plot but long in world building, while we follow the two as they wander through untraveled areas and talk about their similarities, differences, and rising self-awareness.
I’m a big Becky Chambers fan — I enjoy her writing and her exploration of cultures. This is the beginning of a new series, and I’m hoping some of the future episodes have a little more plot to them. While this was philosophically interesting, I did get a little bored to be honest. Also, she uses the pronoun “their” for Dex and his/her fellow monks. This drove me crazy — I was not able to get used to it although it peppered every single page. Every time I read the word I struggled to figure out who the rest of the people were and then had to remember it was only Dex! Every time! I’m super happy to use someone’s choice of pronoun when I remember — including a made up one (I like zhe) — but using plurals for a singular drives me batty. I probably won’t read the next book because of this — I just don’t need the cognitive load. However, if this doesn’t bother you and you enjoy slow-paced, philosophical, stories, you will enjoy this!
Thank you to Macmillian-Tor/Forge and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book will be published on July 13th, 2021.
Writing: 3/5 Plot: 3/5 Characters: 2/5 A cautionary tale of a future where AI based humanoid robots may be slowly taking over the planet while the human population they are intended to serve remains blissfully unaware. All but one — the utterly competent, perfectly empathic, friendly humanoid robots just give Stella Mayfield the creeps.
While the plot had potential, I really didn’t enjoy this book. The characters were extremely stereotyped (and really, although Stella was a Biologist with a PhD, she behaved like the stereotypical neurotic woman while the men behaved like stereotypical men — completely out of touch with their feelings blah blah blah. The techie robot engineer was the biggest stereotype of all (and spoke some weird dialect that didn’t match anything I’m familiar with and I live and work in Silicon Valley!). There is very little science and very little plot — instead it includes lots of filler encompassing a lot of clichéd relationship stuff that had little to do with the plot. Writing is decent enough that I finished the book, but nothing special, and the end was completely predictable. Could have made a decent short story with better characters and more philosophic depth.