It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth 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.
Thank you to Tor Dot Com for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review! A Psalm for the Wild-Built was released on July 13, 2021.
You will want to have a cup of tea to drink while reading this novella.
I finished reading the ebook ARC I’d been sent and then immediately went out to buy a hardcover. (The hardcovers are overpriced for a novella. But that’s on publishing and capitalism than the author.)
A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a novella for right now. That may sound cliche but we’ve been going through a global pandemic, new civil rights movement, political upheaval, drought, heatwaves, and wildfires (just to name a few things). Becky Chambers has always excelled at creating hopeful futures, places I want to live in and people I want to meet.
The world of Panga is peaceful. People are happy, cared for, and lead fulfilling lives. But Sibling Dex isn’t happy and doesn’t know why and therein lies the problem. I, and a lot of other people, can relate to struggling to find purpose in life. It’s hard when things are bad and you’re doing what you need to survive. But it’s also hard when things are good and depression or other things set in like a cloud.
In many ways I would like to be Sibling Dex. To have a little ox-bike drawn wagon where I ride around and greet people with tea. And then when I’m faced with the burden of not knowing and struggling with purpose, I too would like to vanish into the woods and have an encounter from a story book with a robot.
Although I often complain that novellas are too short, A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a good length. This is a story of reflection rather than action. Of two people with very different perspectives and lives trying to learn from each other. It made me cry and I’m looking forward to future novellas Chamber’s writes about Sibling Dex and Splendid Speckled Mosscap. I’ll make a pot of tea and join them for the gentle journey.
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About the Author
Becky Chambers is a science fiction author based in Northern California. She is best known for her Hugo Award-winning Wayfarers series. Her books have also been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, among others. She has two new works coming out in 2021: The Galaxy, and The Ground Within (the fourth and final Wayfarers novel), and A Psalm for the Wild-Built (the first of her Monk and Robot novellas).
Becky has a background in performing arts, and grew up in a family heavily involved in space science. She spends her free time playing video games, tabletop RPGs, and looking through her telescope. Having hopped around the world a bit, she’s now back in her home state, where she lives with her wife. She hopes to see Earth from orbit one day.