A Psalm for the Wild-Built

(Monk and Robot #1)

Hardcover, 160 pages

Published July 13, 2021 by Tordotcom.


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4 stars (21 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

Gentle, thoughtful, optimistic sci-fi

No rating

If I were able to write fiction, I think this is the kind of fiction I’d like to write. The first book in the Monk & Robot series is gentle and thoughtful, but manages to pick at some anxieties I’ve been having for a long time, about purpose and direction and satisfaction. There’s not much in the way of conflict, but plenty in the way of insight, and it’s short enough that I basically inhaled it.

Even more than the characters, I want to spend more time with the book’s religious system, which is revealed in small details but still largely mysterious by the end of the book. The best fictional religions have a way of concisely showing what’s important in a given world—which I guess real religions do, too, but those are so much more multilayered and convoluted from centuries of revision and interpretation that it takes real scholarship …

A wonderful cozy read!

4 stars

I read this book in one sitting from start to finish on Christmas day with hot tea and a blanket. It is precisely what I needed for some relaxation and escape. The book is about breaking patterns, dealing with boredom, trying new things, failing and grappling with what it means to be human - all told through the story between sibling dex, a tea monk and a funny robot named mosscap.

is it possible to be nostalgic for another world?

5 stars

sweet, beautiful, simple and short. this story came to me on the heels of a hard year, which itself was following a couple more hard years. sibling dex and mosscap were precisely the guides i needed to recenter at the end of this year and think about how to bring a little bit of tea monk energy into the next chapters of my life. i'll be rereading this one.

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 …

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 at 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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