A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Hardcover, 160 pages

Published July 13, 2021 by Tordotcom.

ISBN:
9781250236210

View on OpenLibrary

5 stars (48 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

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 …

Sleight book on weighty themes

4 stars

First a disclaimer: at this point I think a Becky Chambers book would have to be pretty terrible to get a bad review from me.

This is very clearly a novella, and continues Chamber's trend away from plot driven fiction as seen in the later Wayfarer books. So, not much happens, but deep themes are explored.

The solarpunk aspect has been remarked elsewhere, but I didn't expect was how much it seemed like a reflection on the (privileged) human condition. As a fellow privileged human, I recognized some of Sibling Dex's disquiet.

A gentle journey with real stakes

4 stars

This feels like a good LeGuin novel. Our characters go on a journey, they discover things, we learn about a very different world and we build to a crisis with a resolution that surprises in kindness.

Zero laser blasts. Real problems.

Tea throughout as a center to the plot. I loved it and will be following the next adventures.

A hopeful vision of the future

5 stars

It's easy to find dystopian science fiction. It's harder to find science fiction that provides a positive image of the future. It's not a blueprint, but you get the sense of a robust society that has overcome its most self-destructive tendencies. Very on-brand (in a good way!) for the author; if you've enjoyed her other books you will enjoy this one as well.

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

5 stars

An incredibly sweet book. Calm. Gentle. Insightful, like Thich Nhat Hanh or Nagajuna in Sci-Fi form (lots of Buddhist streaks in this one). You can't get Chambers' realist optimism in nearly any book these days, which makes this a big contribution not only to the literary field but to the ongoing debate about climate catastrophe and radical social change.

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