A Psalm for the Wild-Built

A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Monk & Robot, #1)

by Becky Chambers
Series: Monk and Robot #1
Published on July 13, 2021
Pages: 160
Format: eBook Source: Library

Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend.
Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story 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 will need to ask it a lot. Chambers' series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

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 humans since they left.

This is like an alien first contact story. Neither the robot or the human has ever met a representative the other other type. They don’t quite know what to do with themselves.

This book is quiet. There isn’t a huge amount of plot. They travel together for a while. They don’t even meet other humans yet. There is a second book in the series that should cover what happens when Mosscap the robot meets other humans.

Read this one if you want to quiet, small story that is a slice of life on a planet that was once industrialized and has changed its ways.