I am reading a lot of short stories for my “Year of Short Fiction”. But short fiction also includes novellas. There are many different definitions for the length of a novella, but The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association defines word counts for different length formats like this:
- Short Story: less than 7,500 words
- Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words
- Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
- Novel: 40,000 words or more
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers is therefore a novella and is the latest of my short fiction reads. It is the sequel to her previous novella A Psalm for the Wild Built. Both take place on a moon and follow a monk and a sentient robot. In the second of these novellas, the monk acts as the travel coordinator for the robot as it re-introduces its kind to humans for the first time in generations. When robots gained sentience, they left the humans and their factories and moved to the wild to live on their own. For more details, read the first novella. It’s really good.
While the theme of the first book was more individual, this second takes on relationships. How will people relate to a sentient robot after generations of separation? How will the relationship between the monk and the robot change during the tour? Once again the writing is colorful, bringing to life the world around the characters and the characters themselves. The conversation feels realistic to the situations. And the interaction of the characters shows the changing relationships through the story rather than exposition. Overall, a worthy sequel, but not quite as good as the first book for me.
My rating: 4/5