It’s been centuries since the robots of Panga 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.
This is a delightful and charming novella. It is high-concept sci-fi in a decidedly low-key setting. It is about a non-human helping someone discover their humanity.
But, it is somewhat insubstantial. After the grandeur of the Wayfairers series, this is a more meandering book. Rather than a large cast, it's a two-hander. And rather than the endless universe, it is set along a single road.
It is well set up for a series - but I can't help wishing it were a full-length novel rather than a piecework.
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