Becky Chambers’ A Prayer for the Crown-Shy is, unfortunately, something of a miss for me.

The thing about Chambers’ books (particularly her more recent ones) is that nothing really happens in them, and there’s no real big conflict to be resolved, so the books really just amount to hanging out with the main characters in whatever setting they’re in.

Sometimes that works well; I enjoyed The Galaxy, and the Ground Within in just that way. But this Monk and Robot series is not working for me at all.

Part of it is that I don’t really like the monk character. They seem driven primarily by a vague sense of ennui. I find ennui-driven people tedious and unpleasant in real life, and they’re not more enjoyable in fiction. (The robot is significantly more interesting, but I wish the childlike wonder was balanced by something sharper, not duller.)

But the other part of it is that the world building annoys me. The problem is, it’s doing a post-industrial world, where they quit using petroleum and what-not and everything is renewable and sustainable and eco-friendly. Great. I love it. Except… I don’t believe it for a second. There’s just too much tech in this book that’s needing somewhere to have a gross, messy factory making chemicals or engaging in the smelly processes of reclaiming resources from trash. Presenting a society full of wood elves in science fictional clothing just ends up feeling like naive nonsense—it’s the kind of mindset that gets people mobilizing to oppose solar farms, because they want the kind of solar that seamlessly blends into the environment obtrusively, which… isn’t a real thing at the levels needed.

Annoying protagonist in an annoying world, doing nothing in particular? Yeah, no. Not recommended.


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