Clara Gutierrez is a highly-skilled technician specializing in the popular ‘Raise’ AI companions. Her childhood in a migrant worker family has left her uncomfortable with lingering in any one place, so she sticks around just long enough to replenish her funds before she moves on, her only constant companion Joanie, a fierce, energetic Raise hummingbird.
Sal is a fully autonomous robot, the creation of which was declared illegal ages earlier due to ethical concerns. She is older than the law, however, at best out of place in society and at worst hated. Her old master is long dead, but she continues to run the tea shop her master had owned, lost in memories of the past, slowly breaking down, and aiming to fulfill her master’s dream for the shop.
When Clara stops by Sal’s shop for lunch, she doesn’t expect to find a real robot there, let alone one who might need her help. But as they begin to spend time together and learn more about each other, they both start to wrestle with the concept of moving on…
The Cybernetic Tea Shop was one of the first books that showed up on my radar when I began hunting for ace-rep. It has proceeded to sit on Kindle shelf for two years before a last-minute bingo rush meant the shorter the book, the better. There’s a lot to like in this novella. The characters are cute, their interactions are cute, tea is lovely, and also robots. And the ace rep very clearly present, along with an adorable f/f human/AI relationship that I wasn’t expecting going in. All positives. However, in the thirty minutes it took me to finish, I learned that I absolutely cannot stand the Slice of Life genre. Nothing happened. I was bored. And that’s entirely on me. For readers who enjoy any of the aspects listed above, I’m sure you’ll love this novella. It just wasn’t for me. Overall, I rate this book a 4/5 because not liking Slice of Life is my fault, not the book’s.
/r/Fantasy 2019-2020 Bingo Squares:
- SoL Fantasy (hard mode)
- SFF Novella (hard mode)
- Self-Pub Novel
- Novel w/an AI Character (hard mode)
- Title with 4+ Words
Publisher: Soft Cryptid