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The Tea Master and the Detective: Marsupial Wearable Robots Help Out a Vietnamese Sherlock Holmes

Recommendation: Don’t wait for small robots to fetch this novella, get it yourself and immerse yourself in a very different version of Sherlock

The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard is a Hugo and Nebula nominee for best novella. It’s a thoughtful, delightful story, that cries out for a series. It is a mystery with a detective, Long Chau, brilliant and abrasive in the vein of Sherlock Holmes and a mindship, The Shadow’s Child, taking the role of Watson in directions IBM’s Watson (named after the IBM director, not the Conan Doyle character) in a different direction. The two investigate a corpse found in space and trace it back to a consortium of workers on a space orbitals, with each step in the investigation a subtle exercise in world building. The reader is gracefully immersed in the Vietnamese space culture that de Bodard has set other wonderful works including her evocative On a Red Station, Drifting. The novella flows so smoothly that it is easy to miss that all the characters, including the mindship, are female. The story is engaging and complete - there are no cliffhangers, yet the characters are so unique and compelling that the first thought is “when is the next one in the series?” Sadly, de Bodard on Goodreads says she has no definite plans at this time to write another.

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