Fiction, Novella, Science Fiction

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Monk & Robot #1

Normally I am adverse to books that are overly hyped, but I realized that this was the first book that was not overly hyped, but overly recommended, and by people I trust, so I figured it was time to read it.


From the publisher marketing:
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.

You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.

Click on this graphic to explore the book page on LibraryThing!


The BISAC codes for this book are wildly misleading – action & adventure and post-apocalyptic? I mean, yes, technically, but this book does not fit into the mold one would normally think of with those two categories. This is a cozy, meditative book that just happens to involve a robot and a world that is technically post-apocalyptic, but is so far past that apocalypse that it feels disingenuous to call it that.

A lot can be learned about yourself and the world around you while on a long journey and the occasional cup of tea. Dex, our tea monk, has left their home to go out into the world and offer guidance the villages around their abbey by offering a cup of tea and an ear to listen to their tales of their lives. Mosscap, our Robot, has been tasked by the society of robots in which he lives to go out into the world to learn more about it. Humans and Robots have not interacted for hundreds of years, until Dex and Mosscap meet.

Together they journey towards the ruins of a monastery, and during that journey they discuss a great many things regarding identity, gender, meaning of life, humanity, humanity’s relationship with technology, so many things that are incredibly relevant to life today. I had originally feared that it would make me despair over the state of the world, but ultimately it is a very hopeful book.

It’s a quick read, technically a novella, and there is a sequel, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, as well that I am saving for a day that I need a pick me up about the state of the world again. I simultaneously hope that it is soon, and far off at the same time.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Click this image to visit the book page on my Bookshop page!

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