A Psalm for the Wild-Built

eBook, 160 pages

English language

Published July 2, 2021 by Tom Doherty Associates.

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4 stars (21 reviews)

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?

3 editions

Solarpunk tale of self-discovery and grappling with one's history

5 stars

A compelling yet soothing tale about a non-binary monk having a midlife crisis.

Topics: finding purpose in life, wilderness, the nature of consciousness, and more.

No violence, no struggle apart from that of a person against the pressures of exertion and survival outside of human civilization, and yet it is a page-turner.

It gets the "solarpunk" label because the setting is a human society which fits the bill: non-capitalist, low-impact technology. Main transport method: "ox-bikes," apparently the author's neologism to refer to electronically assisted bicycles that pull carts around. Personal computers are computers that last a person's entire life. Half of the available land is set aside for wilderness. Etc.

100% recommend. It would probably be a good introduction to science fiction for someone who's not familiar with the genre as it exists in the 21st century.

A breath of fresh air, the wild-built could be us

5 stars

Content warning Spoilers

Gentle, thoughtful, optimistic sci-fi

No rating

If I were able to write fiction, I think this is the kind of fiction I’d like to write. The first book in the Monk & Robot series is gentle and thoughtful, but manages to pick at some anxieties I’ve been having for a long time, about purpose and direction and satisfaction. There’s not much in the way of conflict, but plenty in the way of insight, and it’s short enough that I basically inhaled it.

Even more than the characters, I want to spend more time with the book’s religious system, which is revealed in small details but still largely mysterious by the end of the book. The best fictional religions have a way of concisely showing what’s important in a given world—which I guess real religions do, too, but those are so much more multilayered and convoluted from centuries of revision and interpretation that it takes real scholarship …

Review of 'A Psalm for the Wild-Built' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I wanted to read this because I had heard about this genre of “hope punk” or “cozy punk,” and I was curious. As I expected, there was no real conflict, or any jeopardy or much in the way of stakes. But this is what the genre is about, giving a break from the catastrophe that is our current world, so on that count, I would give it a high score, but I prefer novels with more at stake and more conflict. But I can see how many who are very stressed in everyday life and stressed about the planet and technology might take comfort in this sort of a book (not that I’m not stressed about these things, but I guess I’m used to higher level of stress). I don’t expect to continue with the series, but who knows?

Review of 'A Psalm for the Wild-Built' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I'm such a huge fan of all the Becky Chambers books. The author's work continues to amaze me with futuristic stories full of hope and diversity. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is no exception to that. The ideas I loved most in this story were humanity reacting with acceptance when the robots gained sentience far in the past. That humanity adapted to life without them. But also the idea that what those robots chose to do with their lives was to retreat to nature and study it, with excitement and curiosity. The idea that a robot created to work in industry would then turn around and spend decades just watching a tree grow for no other reason than because it was fascinating, is such a refreshing take. And of course, it's a lot more complex than all of that, but the story doesn't feel overly complicated. These are the kind …

A wonderful cozy read!

4 stars

I read this book in one sitting from start to finish on Christmas day with hot tea and a blanket. It is precisely what I needed for some relaxation and escape. The book is about breaking patterns, dealing with boredom, trying new things, failing and grappling with what it means to be human - all told through the story between sibling dex, a tea monk and a funny robot named mosscap.

is it possible to be nostalgic for another world?

5 stars

sweet, beautiful, simple and short. this story came to me on the heels of a hard year, which itself was following a couple more hard years. sibling dex and mosscap were precisely the guides i needed to recenter at the end of this year and think about how to bring a little bit of tea monk energy into the next chapters of my life. i'll be rereading this one.

Feels like a warm embrace

5 stars

This novella felt like a warm embrace. It's cozy, cute and light. A traveling tea monk exploring the world coming in contact with a conscious robot. Robots were long forgotten by humanity, having fled to the wilderness to live their own lives. I loved the discussions about life purpose and consciousness. It made me want to continue reading the next one.

A monk sets out to find themselves, meets a sentient robot, and goes on a voyage of discovery.

3 stars

An interesting, character driven story that starts with a monk that is dissatisfied with the way their (singular they) life is and goes on a voyage of exploration as a tea monk, serving various kinds of teas they has selected to people who just need to unwind.

But even this proves not to be enough to quell the unease in the monk, and they go on a journey to visit an abandoned place in what would be the wild part of the moon the monk inhabits. On the journey, they would encounter the first sentient robot (the robots left for the wild woods after gaining sentience) to be seen by man for many years, who is also on a journey to find out what people need.

In their journey together, they would converse on the nature of man and robot, their desires and curiosity about each other and the world …

Review of 'A Psalm for the Wild-Built' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I loved the setting of this book. This is a world where monks travel on bicycles pulling wagons behind them. They come into towns and set up small tea stations. They serve the exact tea blend that a person needs to help with their emotional needs. The service is a mix of therapy and just having a quiet space to sit and think for an hour. It is very peaceful.

Sibling Dex has worked hard to become the best tea monk. However, it isn’t satisfying them in the way that they thought it would. They want to take a side trip out into the wilds to an abandoned monastery they heard about. On the way, they meet a representative sent from the robots. Robots gained autonomy generations ago. They left human areas and haven’t been heard from since. Now one has been sent to see what is going on with …