Service Model

Tor.com. Jun. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9781250290281. $28.99. SF
The robot valet Charles, soon to be Uncharles, kills his human owner, gets tossed out of paradise, and learns that the world outside the manor’s doors is nothing like the vids. That world is gone, along with the humans whom Uncharles is programmed to serve. There’s no one left to require Uncharles’s service, the humans having grown so dependent on robots that their world collapsed; their solutions for finding purpose and meaning have devolved into greater and lesser hells of their own making. Uncharles tours the apocalypse with his slightly dysfunctional robotic companion, the Wonk, only to discover that the meaning he has been searching for has been right beside him all along.
VERDICT A surprisingly thoughtful and compelling story from Tchaikovsky (Lords of Uncreation) about one robot’s journey through their own version of Dante’s circles of hell, complete with all the other hells they’d rather never have imagined. Readers who love a good postapocalyptic hell ride, AI-centered adventures, and robot/human companion stories, such as A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, will appreciate.
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