Book Review: “The Cybernetic Tea Shop” by Meredith Katz

Earlier this year, Zachary Shatzer had the idea of creating a new genre called “cozypunk,” as a blend of cyberpunk and cozy mysteries.

I loved this idea, and even thought about trying to write something of the sort myself. But then, when Andrey Popov responded to my call for pleasant, uplifting book recommendations last week, I learned this book existed, and that’s pretty much what it is. And I doubt I could do as good a job of it as Katz does.

This is a short story, set in a “retro-futuristic America.” I was in love already upon reading those words. It follows wandering AI repair technician Clara, whose wanderlust takes her to Seattle, where she meets Sal, a sophisticated robot who manages a small tea shop. Clara soon befriends Sal, but before long, the two are forced to confront a number of challenges, both material and emotional.

The book is a short and sweet sketch of the two major characters, but there was also a sufficient amount of background given to make the world feel grounded. In particular, the threat of violence against sentient AIs helped make the story feel like part of a wider world. It reminded me of Asimov, if Asimov had written lesbian romance.

And it also made me crave tea! I am not even much of a tea drinker; being more of a coffee guy. But every so often, and especially of a rainy November evening, I enjoy a cup of Constant Comment. And that is what I sipped while reading this charming little story. Andrey is exactly right about it; it’s a story that is “kind and full of love.”

8 Comments

  1. Growing up Constant Comment was the only flavored tea, and we drank it only at Christmas time. Now flavored tea is abundant, but CC even decaffeinated is still good. Try Good Earth’s Sweet and Spicy, it’s great.

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