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Monk & Robot Duology by Becky Chambers

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.


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's new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

Special Considerations Before Reading:

(Content Warning)

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After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.


They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.


Becky Chambers's new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?

Special Considerations Before Reading:

(Content Warning)

Self-Care Tags:





"Compassionately Curious (Psalm) & Wonderfully Meaningful (Prayer)"

Why I love it:

Splendid Speckled Mosscap (robot/it) and Sibling Dex (human/they) develop a relationship with one another that prioritizes respect, tenderness, honesty, and a desire to understand themselves and each other. They live in a world that infuses me with hope for what a society could be when it assumes the best intent of others, honors personal agency, and openly accepts an expansive understanding of identity and love as the status-quo. Along their journey together, they have to reckon with a number of existential questions about purpose, connection, need, life, fear, and meaning. Their conversations are equal parts direct and supportive while also leaving space for acceptance of things beyond their knowing or control, which makes each page almost feel like bearing witness to something sacred.

How I see the book and/or the stories in it to support self-care:

  • In "Psalm" we are introduced to Sibling Dex who has been feeling discontent with their life in the city and decides that they "wanted to inhabit a place that spread not up but out." This yearning led them to change their monk vocation from gardening to providing tea service, affording them the ability to travel from town to town and commune with nature while still serving their holy order. The conviction Dex feels for what they know is the next right step for themselves and the decisive way they take action towards achieving it, even when they can't offer a logical explanation to those who ask them for it is inspiring to me. It feels like a powerful example of change for those of us who may feel simultaneously burnt out and scared, too tired to continue what we have been doing but to nervous to veer away from the comfort of the known to pursue something that feels uncertain. 

  • There is so much beautiful, natural imagery in both books that the pages almost transport you to the lush canopies and open skies Mosscap and Dex travel on. The curiosity and wonder that Mosscap feels for every small experience feels invigorating while Dex's experiences of pleasure and contentment around small yet meaningful moments seem soul soothing. Chambers' writing style feels like a balm for to those of us who find ourselves emotionally depleted and mentally stretched too thin; we are Chamber's exact intended audience as the dedications of "Psalm" and "Prayer" are to...  "those who are tired" and "those who need a break" (respectively).

  • The society of Panga, the moon where Mosscap and Dex live, feels like a utopia for those of us who are weary from systemic oppression, financial insecurity, broken healthcare systems, prejudicial injustice, and the restriction of basic human rights.  Chambers' offers us a vision of a people who have created a society where they embrace one another as having value just because they exist. In Panga, many marginalized identities, lifestyles, and challenges (including gender, sexuality, relationships, abilities, religion, mental health, end-of-life, etc) are seen as normative and the embedded acceptance of what is often harshly judged in our world feels liberating to be immersed in. Both books are utterly wholesome while normalizing queer individuals, pleasurable sexuality, and polyamorous relationships which is a very needed representation in our world that often stigmatizes what is seen as "non-traditional" just because it deviates from what we most commonly see around us.

  • In "Prayer" we see Mosscap and Dex interact more with the broader society whereas "Psalm" is much more focused on their isolated experiences. As Mosscap learns about Panga's system of currency, called Pebs, I found myself awestruck with way people determined the value of goods and services and the perspective of payment being communally supportive rather than transactionally reciprocal. Living in an American capitalist society, where being in financial debt is often stigmatized as a moral failing, the perspective that "everybody has a negative (pebs) balances from time to time, for lots of reasons" is a really liberating perspective shift. Add to that the response that "a huge negative (balance)... well, that says they need help"  is such a restorative perspective shift. A culture, even a fictional one, that sees a need and offers support rather than condemnation encourages us to find ways we can embody this approach in our day to day lives as a way to care for our community.

  • The second half of "Prayer" features some very open conversations about personal autonomy, culture, dignity, acceptance of acquired disability, and navigating value conflicts. One scene in particular between Mosscap, Dex, and Leroy is such a beautiful illustration of the intersection between many of these considerations and how to care for someone as they consider big decisions that are their's to make, even as you may not agree with the end result.

“You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.”


“Well, that's the nice thing about trees," Mosscap put its hands on its hips as it looked around. "They're not going anywhere. You can take all the time you need to get to know them.”

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Where you can find it (besides your local independent bookstore)

Audiobook app that credits the local indie bookstore of your choice with purchases

Local library app that you can connect your card information to for audio and e-books (availability varieties based on branch and network)

Book Club app that lets you purchase e-books for interactive read-a-longs

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E-book download available through amazon

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Amazon subscription where select titles are available to borrow for free

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Audiobook app through Amazon

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