A Psalm for the Wild-Built

(Monk & Robot #1)

hardcover, 160 pages

Published July 12, 2021 by Tordotcom.


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4 stars (19 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?

2 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.

solarpunk road trip?

5 stars

Becky Chamber's works are rare among science fiction stories because instead of action-adventure plots they're about people talking about what it means to be alive.

The first couple of chapters felt like the plot was jumping around a hell of a lot, because they're really just backstory/preamble for the actual story

It's good that there will be a sequel because I do want to know what both Mosscap and Dex will do next

Humane sci-fi. With robots.

4 stars

There isn’t much I can add to loppear@bookwyrm.social’s review; once again, Chambers is simply wonderful. Here, she is running with the wholesome if slightly insipid promise for the future Solarpunk holds to explore human condition and (not entirely incidentally, I suspect) thumb a very long nose to the whole “machine uprising” crowd. I don’t know how someone can be so relentlessly, melancholically upbeat, but I do know I had to finish this before work, and that I had a little happy cry when I did.

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  • Science Fiction
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Fiction
  • Adult
  • Queer