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A Psalm for the Wild-Built

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Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new series gives us hope for the future. It's been centuries since the robots of Earth 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 arriva Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new series gives us hope for the future. It's been centuries since the robots of Earth 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' new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?


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Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new series gives us hope for the future. It's been centuries since the robots of Earth 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 arriva Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new series gives us hope for the future. It's been centuries since the robots of Earth 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' new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

30 review for A Psalm for the Wild-Built

  1. 5 out of 5

    Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    Becky Chambers's writing feels like home to me. Comforting and inclusive while making you rethink what you know through sci-fi. The main character is non-binary and a monk so they were referred as "Sibling" (instead of "Brother" or "Sister") which was great. If you're intrigue to read a "slice of life" with a monk and a robot trying to make sense of their lives... read this! I already can't wait to read book 2! Becky Chambers's writing feels like home to me. Comforting and inclusive while making you rethink what you know through sci-fi. The main character is non-binary and a monk so they were referred as "Sibling" (instead of "Brother" or "Sister") which was great. If you're intrigue to read a "slice of life" with a monk and a robot trying to make sense of their lives... read this! I already can't wait to read book 2!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nataliya

    If this is not your first Becky Chambers book, you know what to expect. Ever since her first novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet she’s been writing what I can only call “comfort science fiction/ cozypunk”, showing the worlds where you would really love to live, the worlds that learned from mistakes of the past and moved on in better directions, the worlds mostly inhabited by genuinely nice people, with everything having a feeling of an unironically happy hippie commune, complete with ear If this is not your first Becky Chambers book, you know what to expect. Ever since her first novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet she’s been writing what I can only call “comfort science fiction/ cozypunk”, showing the worlds where you would really love to live, the worlds that learned from mistakes of the past and moved on in better directions, the worlds mostly inhabited by genuinely nice people, with everything having a feeling of an unironically happy hippie commune, complete with earnest conversations about life and its meaning. And that’s what we get here, in a tiny contemplative novella whose dedication simply states, “For anybody who could use a break.” “This had been the way of things since the Transition, when the people had redivided the surface of their moon. Fifty percent of Panga’s single continent was designated for human use; the rest was left to nature, and the ocean was barely touched at all. It was a crazy split, if you thought about it: half the land for a single species, half for the hundreds of thousands of others. But then, humans had a knack for throwing things out of balance. Finding a limit they’d stick to was victory enough.” It’s a story of a utopia, a planet where humanity left behind the Factory Age and moved on to sustainable and highly spiritual (as opposed to dogmatically religious) life in harmony with nature, with dwellings made of biodegradable materials, half a planet left for wilderness with which you do not interfere, and existence of tea monks who travel from scenic village to scenic village setting pop-up tea shops where one can drink their sorrows away with herbal teas. Because people will still have existential crises and will get hit with wanderlust even in the most inconvenient times. “I’m tired,” Dex said softly. “My work doesn’t satisfy me like it used to, and I don’t know why. I was so sick of it that I did a stupid, dangerous thing, and now that I’ve done it, I don’t know what to do next. I don’t know what I thought I’d find out here, because I don’t know what I’m looking for. I can’t stay here, but I’m scared about going back and having that feeling pick right back up where it left off. I’m scared, and I’m lost, and I don’t know what to do.” In this world a long time ago robots somehow gained consciousness and parted ways with humanity to live in the wilderness, respecting each other’s choices and agency. The departure of robots apparently becomes a catalyst for the betterment of humanity. And now for the first time a human tea monk Dex (on a quest fueled by ennui and a longing for purpose) and a robot Splendid Speckled Mosscap (on a journey to find out about humans and what makes them tick) meet and engage in philosophical discussions and debates and lay foundations for a beautiful friendship. This entire novella is a philosophical dialogue in the setting of ecological paradise, a cozy version of Plato’s symposium held in the wilderness with some tea. “You’re an animal, Sibling Dex. You are not separate or other. You’re an animal. And animals have no purpose. Nothing has a purpose. The world simply is. If you want to do things that are meaningful to others, fine! Good! So do I! But if I wanted to crawl into a cave and watch stalagmites with Frostfrog for the remainder of my days, that would also be both fine and good. 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. That is all most animals do.” This is not a story of survival or conflict or discovery. It is a story of dissatisfaction even with the most comfortable life in the most ideal world imaginable, the world which by any definition is a utopia — and not because of any inherent flaws in the utopia, not because every utopia harbors within it the seeds of dystopia, but purely because human spirit gets restless sometimes even in the best of circumstances, even in the world that I would give my left ovary to inhabit. You see, living in our current world that is not quite moving towards the lovely green utopia of Chambers’ planet, I do tend to view the world through less rose-tinted glasses, focusing more on survival and security as priorities and sidelining the finer things in life. But here we are a bit past that, those lucky bastards. Here they can afford to focus on spiritual pleasure and not on the basic needs. “Dex nodded at the ruined factory. “And the people who made places like this weren’t at fault either—at least, not at first. They just wanted to be comfortable. They wanted their children to live past the age of five. They wanted everything to stop being so fucking hard. Any animal would do the same—and they do, if given the chance.” Yes, the questions Chambers raises are those “first world problems” that I’m usually the first one to want to shrug off — but they are very important to the human nature. When you have the luxury of having your basic needs met and comfort of security in life, the nagging feelings of dissatisfaction and desire for purpose or fulfillment or wanderlust will come to the forefront, because, as Dex notes, humans need more than just focus on survival alone — once that basic need has been fulfilled. “Survival alone isn’t enough for most people. We’re more than surviving now. We’re thriving. We take care of each other, and the world takes care of us, and we take care of it, and around it goes. And yet, that’s clearly not enough, because there’s a need for people like me. No one comes to me hungry or sick. They come to me tired, or sad, or a little lost. It’s like you said about the … the ants. And the paint. You can’t just reduce something to its base components. We’re more than that. We have wants and ambitions beyond physical needs. That’s human nature as much as anything else.” All in all, it’s a quietly optimistic, comforting, heartfelt book, focusing on the nuances of human soul in a very good world inhabited by very good people and robots. To complete the ambiance, I would have needed a hot cocoa and a warm cozy blanket on a pleasantly rainy day — but we are in the middle of a hot dry fiery California summer, so there goes that pleasant atmosphere. ———— And yet some things kept nagging at me, aided by that ever-present cynicism that tends to pop up at inconvenient moments. One was the robot character, Mosscap. It’s pretty indistinguishable from a human, with the same everything — speech patterns, logic, and even struggles with math and numbers. The subtitle of this new series - Monk and Robot — implies differences, and Mosscap itself states that “We don’t have to fall into the same category to be of equal value” — but to me they were reading as almost indistinguishable in voice and behavior, and that left me a bit unsatisfied. The other issue was the ending — or the lack thereof, because this novella really should have been part 1 of a larger novel, perhaps the exposition at the beginning of a longer book. And tea. After “Ancillary Justice” series, I’m a bit twitchy when tea makes on-page appearance. Another one was the luxurious tease of this hope for the future. Because it just IS? We are told that the Transition happened from the grim Factory Age to this idyllic paradise, and my brain just keeps nagging at me about the implausibility of that given human nature and drives, and my inner cynicism starts running rampant — that cynicism that finds it a bit too cozy and luxurious to read about the world that might as well have come from a pretty concept picture of ecological paradise. There is a point where cozy and comforting becomes too much, and I felt that we are dangerously close to that boundary here. It’s a fable, I kept convincing myself, but my inner cynic kept muttering unpleasant remarks that would not be welcomed on planet Panga (hey, I just got it — Panga is pretty much “Pangaea”, right?). It feels like a desert, a meringue that is soft and fluffy and will be very nice after a solid meat and potatoes course — but without that course not as satisfying. You gotta be in the right mood for it, and I don’t think I entirely was. I like my books with just a smidgeon more of teeth and bite, but that’s not Becky Chambers fault but mine entirely. Her book will be perfect for a perfect reader, and this time I wasn’t among them. Maybe I’ll feel less cynical next time. 3.5 stars. Less cynical among us will love it. “The robot thought. “I have wants and ambitions too, Sibling Dex. But if I fulfill none of them, that’s okay. I wouldn’t—” It nodded at Dex’s cuts and bruises, at the bug bites and dirty clothes. “I wouldn’t beat myself up over it.” Dex turned the mug over and over in their hands. “It doesn’t bother you?” Dex said. “The thought that your life might mean nothing in the end?” “That’s true for all life I’ve observed. Why would it bother me?” Mosscap’s eyes glowed brightly. “Do you not find consciousness alone to be the most exhilarating thing? Here we are, in this incomprehensibly large universe, on this one tiny moon around this one incidental planet, and in all the time this entire scenario has existed, every component has been recycled over and over and over again into infinitely incredible configurations, and sometimes, those configurations are special enough to be able to see the world around them. You and I—we’re just atoms that arranged themselves the right way, and we can understand that about ourselves. Is that not amazing?”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    This is a wonderful little story about purpose, identity, nature, and productivity. It reads like a warm hug, same as all of Becky Chambers work. She provides hope in the bleak outlook that most SFF has and I appreciate her for that.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This was the perfect book for me to read at the moment. I try not to discuss myself much on this site, focusing on reviewing the work rather than telling you all my life story… but this is noteworthy as it may influence your decision on reading it. I've been struggling recently, I've been fighting with depression and overall just feel like an anxious mess. This book is without a doubt the single most relaxing read I've ever had. It's a book about a monk who serves tea, taking a trip just to hear This was the perfect book for me to read at the moment. I try not to discuss myself much on this site, focusing on reviewing the work rather than telling you all my life story… but this is noteworthy as it may influence your decision on reading it. I've been struggling recently, I've been fighting with depression and overall just feel like an anxious mess. This book is without a doubt the single most relaxing read I've ever had. It's a book about a monk who serves tea, taking a trip just to hear crickets. The monk meets a robot (something no one has seen in years) and they travel through a wooded area together. That’s it. I mean, yes, of course there is more to it than that, but in terms of the plot, that's it. Yes, for some this will be a dull read. Some will want to know more about the science or the political landscape. What caused the world to be as it is? How did the robots all gain a higher consciousness? What happened which lead humans to let the robots go off on their own without a real fight? It doesn't matter. This is a book where serving tea and listening to people can be a monk's entire duty. This is a book that is about relaxation and taking things slow. It's not the book to go to if you're looking for excitement, in fact it seems designed to always be calm and keep the reader away from anything that could possibly make them anxious. It's feel-good science fiction… and right now it's just what I needed. This is not a perfect book, but it's the perfect book for this exact moment (at least for me). 4/5 stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sana

    ALL THE BEST SFF AUTHORS WRITING FOR TOR.COM IS THE REASON I'M ALIVE Also, solarpunk ALL THE BEST SFF AUTHORS WRITING FOR TOR.COM IS THE REASON I'M ALIVE Also, solarpunk

  6. 4 out of 5

    Phrynne

    Once upon a time in Panga there was industry and robotics and technology until one day the robots became sentient and walked away. The people left behind have rebuilt their society very differently. The first character we meet is Sibling Dex, a Tea Monk, who travels between rural villages bringing special teas and spiritual comfort. Dex meets a robot called Mosscap and they travel together and talk. That's it really. A book based on a clever idea with fantastic world building, brilliant character Once upon a time in Panga there was industry and robotics and technology until one day the robots became sentient and walked away. The people left behind have rebuilt their society very differently. The first character we meet is Sibling Dex, a Tea Monk, who travels between rural villages bringing special teas and spiritual comfort. Dex meets a robot called Mosscap and they travel together and talk. That's it really. A book based on a clever idea with fantastic world building, brilliant characters and scarcely any plot. It is a feel good book and such a pleasure to read, as long as you are not hoping for danger or action. As Dex and Mosscap develop their relationship there is humour and kindness, generosity and hope for the future. I enjoyed every word of it and am really looking forward to seeing what the author does with book 2.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine from How Useful It Is

    This book was a fantastic read! The somewhat prologue was confusing for me and I almost dread reading the book until I started chapter 1 and liked Dex a lot! I loved following Dex's view and seeing them stumbled through their first day on the tea service. (The use of they/them/their for Dex immediately made sense to me because I just learned about Gender Non-Binary from my last read, The Love Square). This story definitely reeled me in, as soon as I read the first person who came with a problem This book was a fantastic read! The somewhat prologue was confusing for me and I almost dread reading the book until I started chapter 1 and liked Dex a lot! I loved following Dex's view and seeing them stumbled through their first day on the tea service. (The use of they/them/their for Dex immediately made sense to me because I just learned about Gender Non-Binary from my last read, The Love Square). This story definitely reeled me in, as soon as I read the first person who came with a problem and how Dex handled the situation. I normally don't like swearing in my reading but Dex swore at all the right places and each time it sparked a smile from me like the tree blocking the road. The tea service idea was neat. The humor was great!
 This book started with an article from Brother Gil about where the robots wanted to go after creation at factory. Then the story began with Sibling Dex aka Dex, 29, monk who reside at monastery, (goes by they/them/their) told in the third person point of view. They wanted to change their vocation, to be out of the city and live near the wilderness so that they can hear the sounds of insects. They decided to transfer to the village to do tea service, a wagon service where people come with problems and leave with a cup of tea. An adventure awaits as he explored his new vocation. Time flew by and they got older and wiser. One day, Dex decided to travel to an unknown place and there he met an unexpected Mosscap.
 A Psalm for the Wild-Built was very well written and a fast paced read! Dex's first encounter with the robot, Mosscap was so funny! I enjoyed Dex's and Mosscap's small talks during their travel. I loved reading this book and it could be read under 2 days but I wanted to drag it out to enjoy it slowly. It's fun reading the parts where robot Mosscap's curiosity with human foods when Dex cooks. I like the meaningful discussion about life's purpose near the end. I thought about doing something different too, but reading and reviewing books is definitely different from my vocation so I'm happy. I highly recommend everyone to read this book! xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details Many thanks to Tor.com for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.0 Stars This was a typical cute and optimistic story that I have come to expect from Becky Chambers. While this is technically science fiction, it read more like a fantastical fable. The narrative was quaint and sometimes funny, but lacking plot. I generally enjoyed this one even though I have a preference for darker stories. This will be a must read for any mega fans of this author. Disclaimer I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    https://www.wired.com/story/is-becky-... “Everybody needs a cup of tea sometimes.” This book was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. I should make a new shelf called “better than therapy” for books like this one. I was reading it on the balcony (I just installed fairy lights, it’s super cozy), breathing in the cool summer evening air and drinking a glass of wine and I told my husband that I wanted to go live in Becky Chambers’ head. He said “ew”, but what I meant was that I love the w https://www.wired.com/story/is-becky-... “Everybody needs a cup of tea sometimes.” This book was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. I should make a new shelf called “better than therapy” for books like this one. I was reading it on the balcony (I just installed fairy lights, it’s super cozy), breathing in the cool summer evening air and drinking a glass of wine and I told my husband that I wanted to go live in Becky Chambers’ head. He said “ew”, but what I meant was that I love the worlds she imagines so much, and I wish I could live in them – very badly at times. This book is dedicated to “anybody who could use a break”; dear Becky, isn’t that just about all of us these days? The tone of “A Psalm for the Wild Built” is very different from that of the Wayfarer series: this is a quieter book, built almost like a fable. A fable about something very simple but also very complicated: what do humans need? What is our purpose? Dex is a monk who works in their monastery’s garden, in the land of Panga – which might be Earth in a far future, when we have made some smart decisions about taking care of our planet, but more significantly, our robots have developed consciousness. Usually in sci-fi, when AIs become self-aware, it means big trouble, but in Panga, the robots decided that they simply did not want to perform their intended tasks; what they wanted was to leave the cities and retire to the wilderness. By the time Dex experiences the existential questioning that kick off this stories, humans haven’t seen robots in a few hundred years. Feeling unfulfilled by his work in the garden, Dex decides to change calling, and begins to work as an itinerant tea monk, driving his little wagon from village to village, brewing special blends for people and listening to their stories, offering comfort both in liquid form and in compassion. For a few years, this life bring them joy and satisfaction, until one day, when they decide to follow an abandoned road into the wilderness, where they will meet Mosscap, a curious robot who has decided to make contact with humans to see if they needed anything he and other “wild-built” robots could provide. The monk and the robot will strike an unlikely friendship as they get to know each other while making their way to an abandoned hermitage that has been taken over by nature. I don’t know about any of you, but the past 16 months have been kind of a long existential crisis for me. Some things that I was aware of became much sharper in my consciousness, questions that I had been happy to let sleep at the back of my mind woke up in a really bad mood and demanded answers. The issues of my needs and my purpose have been relentlessly present, and I sympathized with Dex deeply, I understood their frustration and confusion perfectly. In fact, I truly do wish I could give up my job a become a tea monk, if that was a thing; I flatter myself that I’d be rather good at it. Reading about their journey, their attempts at figuring things out resonated with me and soothed me just as surely as if they had handed me a cup of tea. And I loved Mosscap! It was so refreshing to read about an AI that does not have the dry personality of a Data or C3PO, but rather, an AI that is endlessly curious, passionate, who marvels at things its never seen before just like a child. I really can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out to see how it does on it’s quest to help humans. Don’t read this if you are looking for a book with a plot; this is a philosophical sci-fi novella that you should pick up if you are looking for a respite, a moment of coziness and hope – and if you’ve enjoyed Ms. Chambers’ other books. A lovely quick read that felt like a hug.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maddie Browse

    I know already that writing this review is going to be extremely difficult! I loved this book with every fibre of my being, and even over a week later I am not sure I am going to be able to put that feeling into words. This book was absolutely stunning, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking and impactful in every way! I did not expect when starting a 160-page novella to be finishing it reassessing so many things about life as well as deep intricacies of society. And that was my favourite thing about I know already that writing this review is going to be extremely difficult! I loved this book with every fibre of my being, and even over a week later I am not sure I am going to be able to put that feeling into words. This book was absolutely stunning, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking and impactful in every way! I did not expect when starting a 160-page novella to be finishing it reassessing so many things about life as well as deep intricacies of society. And that was my favourite thing about this book, and something Becky Chambers achieved extraordinarily throughout - summarising a huge concept in just a few small words. It shouldn't be possible to cover the whole topic of indoctrination and almost a deterministic view of life in light of our societal structure in one sentence, and yet Beck Chambers did. These sentences where a huge issue was boiled down to its core importance were incredibly impactful and left me reeling and thinking for days (in fact I still am!) Getting a little more into it, let's start with the plot. In such a short book the plot isn't that detailed, and also isn't really the focus of the book, but I felt that what plot there was in this book really mirrored and supported the important messages very well. Seeing the journey these two characters went on, and how much they learnt along the way was so interesting, and it was weaved into an interesting world and plot which had a similar basis to the society we all know and live in, whilst also being fascinating to learn about! It may have only been 160-pages, but I was very invested in what was happening and where our characters were going to end up, but I do think that is partially due to how much I adored the two main characters. So talking about characters, I loved Dex and Mosscap so much! The two of them provided such a lovely contrast to one another, one who has almost accepted defeat with life and doesn't feel purpose or motivation, compared to the other who truly sees the good in everything and is so optimistic and drive by their purpose! Also, the banter between the two of them was so funny, and had me laughing out loud at multiple bits of dialogue! The writing throughout the book was beautiful and lyrical, with may quotes standing out and just being utterly beautiful, but as I mentioned earlier, Becky Chamber's skill truly shines through in how she brings out such huge and important topics in just one line. I cannot describe how many times in this short book that I was completely bowled over by how simply and concisely Becky Chambers talked about something which is a large, intangible topic! Overall, I adored this book, and I am sure this will continue every time I reread it (because yes, I already have many plans to reread it!) I couldn't recommend this more highly, and I truly hope it impacts others as much as it did me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Montzalee Wittmann

    A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers Macmillan-Tor/Forge I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this delightful book! Rex and Mosscap make a great duo! This is an unusual world where one day technology awoke and wanted to be free from mankind. Even more unbelievable to me is that mankind didn't want to hold them against their will. So all robots left and was never seen again. We then turn to a Tea Monk, Sibling Rex. He has a drive to do more with his life so he want A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers Macmillan-Tor/Forge I want to thank the publisher and NetGalley for letting me read this delightful book! Rex and Mosscap make a great duo! This is an unusual world where one day technology awoke and wanted to be free from mankind. Even more unbelievable to me is that mankind didn't want to hold them against their will. So all robots left and was never seen again. We then turn to a Tea Monk, Sibling Rex. He has a drive to do more with his life so he wants to go beyond the city. With a well equipped wagon, he ventures out to small villages for several years. He is still feeling unsatisfied. He decides to go further out to the unprotected zones to see the ruins from before. On his way, Dex meets a robot, Mosscap. This will be the first contact between man and robots since the awakening. This is where the story comes to life! The two are really more alike than they realize. The story is heartwarming, has a dry sense of humor, clever, emotional, charming, and melancholy at times. But the ending is perfect! I really loved the characters, plot, world building, and the concept! What a wonderful duo! Highly recommended!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    4.5 stars A tea monk encounters a robot. The first robot checking in with humans in generations, ever since the robots gained consciousness and freedom. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a lovely, lush, hopeful piece of science fiction set in a world that is maintained sustainably in ways our own is not. It's deeply philosophical about the meaning of life, purpose, and death. It's inclusive in a way that is built easily into the world. Our tea monk is a-gender and thus referred to as "sibling" rather 4.5 stars A tea monk encounters a robot. The first robot checking in with humans in generations, ever since the robots gained consciousness and freedom. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a lovely, lush, hopeful piece of science fiction set in a world that is maintained sustainably in ways our own is not. It's deeply philosophical about the meaning of life, purpose, and death. It's inclusive in a way that is built easily into the world. Our tea monk is a-gender and thus referred to as "sibling" rather than brother or sister. And the job of a tea monk? To listen to people who are hurting or anxious and offer them the perfect cup of tea in a safe space. It's a lovely, soft, thought-provoking little novella and I'm looking forward to book 2 already. I received an advance copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ♠ TABI⁷ ♠

    you will never find me complaining about how much Becky Chambers has me completely enthralled with anything she writes okay??

  14. 4 out of 5

    Starlah

    so much nonbinary representation in this! the main character and many side characters. the story is following a tired, jaded tea monk and an eager, friendly robot who go on a trip together, trying to make sense of each others existence as well as their own. this is a beautiful, soft, gentle little story about finding a purpose in life and coping with feeling lost and unsatisfied. it's a very character-driven, reflective, hopeful story and i highly recommend it! so much nonbinary representation in this! the main character and many side characters. the story is following a tired, jaded tea monk and an eager, friendly robot who go on a trip together, trying to make sense of each others existence as well as their own. this is a beautiful, soft, gentle little story about finding a purpose in life and coping with feeling lost and unsatisfied. it's a very character-driven, reflective, hopeful story and i highly recommend it!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Éimhear (A Little Haze)

    Becky Chambers has done it again. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is simply perfection. I absolutely adore Chambers’ Wayfarers series and wondered would I get the same feelings of connection with her latest endeavour, and I 100% did. The story follows main character Sibling Dex who is a monk that is feeling an aching hollow within their life. Props to Chambers for yet again creating a character that challenges and dispels the current societal expectations of gender norms. The setting for the book see Becky Chambers has done it again. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is simply perfection. I absolutely adore Chambers’ Wayfarers series and wondered would I get the same feelings of connection with her latest endeavour, and I 100% did. The story follows main character Sibling Dex who is a monk that is feeling an aching hollow within their life. Props to Chambers for yet again creating a character that challenges and dispels the current societal expectations of gender norms. The setting for the book seems to be some future version of our world. One where humans have returned to a more environmentally sustainable version of life, and one in which robots have seemingly gained a sort of sentience and live separately in their own community. ...I’m not explaining this very well but trust me when I tell you that the setup is entirely plausible in Chambers’ capable hands. Her world building is simply effortless; from the first page she sets the scene in a manner that just completely sucked me in to the story. Through a series of events Sibling Dex becomes the first person in generations to meet with a robot, the ingeniously named Splendid Speckled Mosscap, and the book is basically a first contact series of events as each tries to figure the other out. And all while this is happening Dex is struggling with the concept of purpose in their life... I too struggle with the concept of purpose in my life. I frequently feel worthless and that I’m not contributing to society as I would like because I’m chronically ill. My days are not spent in the traditional manner. They instead revolve around me managing my illness and its associated symptoms. I look at other people achieving personal and career goals, and then I look at myself and my life has been static for years. I’m held by my illness. I can’t be the person I think I should be because I’m too sick to work; my internalised ableism makes me feel less than... And so I keenly identified with this aching feeling that Dex had. This sense of loss and looking for more. I don’t wish to spoil the book but there’s a conversation between Dex and Mosscap at the story’s climax and... well I sobbed. I read it and the tears flowed. The idea of a purposeful life’s worth of endeavours was turned on its head for me and I felt... I don’t know what I felt. I can’t properly describe it. Maybe a dawning realisation that I, much like Dex, had been interpreting things inaccurately. There was a catharsis for me in those last few pages, and that to me is the true skill of a writer. I completely lost my whole self to this book. These characters spoke to the inner most parts of my soul and I feel forever changed. Imagine the safest you’ve ever felt. The most loved. The most comforted. Maybe that’s a warm and inviting hug... well this book? For me this book is that warm, soft hug. It’s a place to metaphorically curl up into and feel securely held. I can’t wait to return to the world of Dex and Mosscap for another quiet adventure because this book was simply sublime, and I give it my most highest recommendation. *An e-copy was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley for honest review* Publishing 13th July 2021, MacMillan-Tor/Forge For more reviews and book related chat check out my blog Follow me on Twitter Friend me on Goodreads

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    This quick read introduces a new post-robot sentience world with a new religious and political system. I loved the monk and robot characters and I hope we see them again. I'll leave the rest to be discovered by the reader! This quick read introduces a new post-robot sentience world with a new religious and political system. I loved the monk and robot characters and I hope we see them again. I'll leave the rest to be discovered by the reader!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hsinju

    This is so cute and it makes me so happy! Sibling Dex (29, agender, they/them) and Splendid Speckled Mosscap (agender, it/its) are the only travel duo I need, aka the burnt-out cleric and the impossibly inquisitive robot. This novella reads like a prequel as we are introduced to the world Panga, a moon of planet Motan, as well as the human religion Sacred Six (Parent Gods: Bosh, God of the Cycle, Grylon, God of the Inanimate, Trikilli, God of the Threads; Child Gods: Samafar, Chal, Allalae). Cham This is so cute and it makes me so happy! Sibling Dex (29, agender, they/them) and Splendid Speckled Mosscap (agender, it/its) are the only travel duo I need, aka the burnt-out cleric and the impossibly inquisitive robot. This novella reads like a prequel as we are introduced to the world Panga, a moon of planet Motan, as well as the human religion Sacred Six (Parent Gods: Bosh, God of the Cycle, Grylon, God of the Inanimate, Trikilli, God of the Threads; Child Gods: Samafar, Chal, Allalae). Chambers’ writing is very descriptive, and the world comes to life as Sibling Dex starts out as a garden monk, switches vocation to a tea monk, and decides to take a break altogether and embark on a journey to Hart’s Brow Mountain outside of human settlement. Set after Transition, which was when people redivided the land use of the moon, the robots were given freedom to leave the humans, and since the signing of the Parting Promise, there were no contact between the two. Until Mosscap finds Dex in the middle of nowhere in their wagon. Both Dex and Mosscap are incredibly relatable. Dex, a cleric who drinks, has sex, curses, and consumes meat, is trying to find the meaning of life, and Mosscap, a seven-foot-tall robot with a boxy head, wants to learn everything about humans, finding every tiny detail fascinating. The two started off as opposites, one dispassionate and the other passionate about life, and kept each other company during the trek in the wilderness while learning about their different world views. I adore Mosscap; it oozes curiosity and energy in every sentence, and I imagine it as a giant, perpetually wide-eyed metallic robot. I especially love that Mosscap signs, isn’t all logic, and loves the wonders in the world. Chambers’ dedication line, “For anybody who could use a break,” ties to the story. A Psalm for the Wild-Built made me happy and satisfied, and even though there weren’t a lot of things going on, I am excited to see how the rest of the series go. Both Chambers’ A Closed and Common Orbit, one of my favorite books I read in 2020, and A Psalm for the Wild-Built are focused on the interaction between human and robot/AI. I love seeing the conversations that brings us out of the human experience to see things from the outside; maybe the interest stems from me being an electrical engineer. This book is joyous and fun, without the intense sci-fi world building in the Wayfarer series. It is a short and light read that put a smile on my face, along with several chuckles along the way. This will be a go-to reread for me the next time I feel as unmotivated as Dex did. content warnings: insects, blood, discussion of death I received an e-ARC from Tordotcom via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maisha Farzana

    =》3.5 stars This book is good. Believe me when I say that - It's really good. I had a very pleasant time reading it. So, don't get confused by the rating. I would highly recommend the book if you are interested. But somehow, it just wasn't enough. =》3.5 stars This book is good. Believe me when I say that - It's really good. I had a very pleasant time reading it. So, don't get confused by the rating. I would highly recommend the book if you are interested. But somehow, it just wasn't enough.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kristina (heartsfullofreads)

    I'm truly in awe of Becky Chambers. This novella was thought provoking and beautiful. It was the perfect blend of nature and science. The world of Panga was lush, sustainable, and full of kindness. I would live there in a heartbeat and I honestly hope our world will look something like this one day. I fell in love with Mosscap instantly and appreciated that none of the typical robot tropes were used in this story. It took me a little bit to warm up to Sibling Dex, but they ended up being a deepl I'm truly in awe of Becky Chambers. This novella was thought provoking and beautiful. It was the perfect blend of nature and science. The world of Panga was lush, sustainable, and full of kindness. I would live there in a heartbeat and I honestly hope our world will look something like this one day. I fell in love with Mosscap instantly and appreciated that none of the typical robot tropes were used in this story. It took me a little bit to warm up to Sibling Dex, but they ended up being a deeply relatable character. As always, the casual queer rep was beautifully done. If you haven't read anything by Becky Chambers yet, this is a great place to start. If you are already a fan, you will love this. **Thank you to Tordotcom publishing for sending me a copy for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Rowland

    This book is a warm cup of tea made by someone who loves you. It's a soft hug of a book that says, "It's okay if you're not okay right now." This book is a warm cup of tea made by someone who loves you. It's a soft hug of a book that says, "It's okay if you're not okay right now."

  21. 4 out of 5

    hiba

    a tired, jaded tea monk and an eager, friendly robot go on a trip together while trying to make sense of their existence and of each other - and i am so full of love for them both. this is a beautiful, gentle little story about trying to find a purpose in life and how to cope with feeling lost and unmoored. highly recommend! rep: nonbinary mc, nonbinary major character

  22. 5 out of 5

    Isabel

    Becky Chambers could step on my neck and I wouldn't even care Becky Chambers could step on my neck and I wouldn't even care

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    When Becky Chambers' fresh new novella landed on my doorstep I quickly found a bookmark and set away my other books for a few days. For me, this is one of my most anticipated reads of the year and I couldn't wait to get along with it. At this point, I'm going to read anything Chambers writes, but it was a real pleasure to see her diverge from her typical space-faring solarpunk into a new universe in A Psalm for the Wild-Built. Fans of Chambers' other work will be right at home in the Monk & Robo When Becky Chambers' fresh new novella landed on my doorstep I quickly found a bookmark and set away my other books for a few days. For me, this is one of my most anticipated reads of the year and I couldn't wait to get along with it. At this point, I'm going to read anything Chambers writes, but it was a real pleasure to see her diverge from her typical space-faring solarpunk into a new universe in A Psalm for the Wild-Built. Fans of Chambers' other work will be right at home in the Monk & Robot universe. There's the feeling not unlike a cozy blanket that settles upon me when I crack open one of her books. Even when the world is hostile, her characters have an essential goodness and optimism that is infectious. So too is the case for Sibling Dex and Splendid Speckled Mosscap. On the moon in which the novella is set, robots gained sentience long ago and left the world of humans behind. Sibling Dex is a tea monk--kind of a travelling psychologist with tea--who has fallen into a bit of a funk. While off-roading into the natural world, Dex comes across a most curious robot. From there the duo's charm takes control of the narrative as both characters come to grips with their interior world and their place in the natural world. This definitely isn't my favourite Chambers book (that'd be A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet or To Be Taught if Fortunate), but it absolutely lands at a great time. The novella's dedication is to "Anyone who could use a break" and feels very of the present moment. At a time when many are reflecting on their purpose in a post-pandemic world, Chambers offers a soothing balm. Highly recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill

    Just got this one and can't wait to see what all these fab reviews are all about! My first by this author! Just got this one and can't wait to see what all these fab reviews are all about! My first by this author!

  25. 5 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    I'll admit that I didn't look too hard into what this was about (though that's not too much of a surprise as I'm #TeamNoBlurb) but I was definitely hoping this would be more in line with TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE, than the author's Wayfarers series. Alas it wasn't; but it wasn't bad, either. "I figured you'd be all numbers and logic. Structured. Strict, y'know?" "What a curious notion." "Is it? Like you said, you're a machine.[..] And machines only work because of numbers and logic." "That's how we I'll admit that I didn't look too hard into what this was about (though that's not too much of a surprise as I'm #TeamNoBlurb) but I was definitely hoping this would be more in line with TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE, than the author's Wayfarers series. Alas it wasn't; but it wasn't bad, either. "I figured you'd be all numbers and logic. Structured. Strict, y'know?" "What a curious notion." "Is it? Like you said, you're a machine.[..] And machines only work because of numbers and logic." "That's how we function, not how we perceive." I think this was a little more philosophical and cerebral, definitely existential, than I expected it to be. But in hindsight, a series about a robot and a monk? How didn't I see this coming. That's on me. "I made made of metal and numbers; you are made of water and genes. But we are each something more than that. And we can't define what that something more is simply by our raw components." This is definitely a gentle, wholesome, thoughtful, novella, not unlike we are to expect from this author, that simultaneously makes you think while also taking you out of your head a bit -- as the dedication goes, this is for all of us who need a break (boy do we ever). Much like the art of choosing a tea and savouring it, there was something meditative about this, and, as a side effect, made me a little sleepy. This won't be a favourite but I'm definitely curious as to where this series is going. Side note? I'm so in love with that cover. ** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the author (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** --- This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.

  26. 4 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    This was beautiful, in so many, many ways. Highly recommend. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dylan

    Fifty percent of Panga’s single continent was designated for human use; the rest was left to nature, and the ocean was barely touched at all. It was a crazy split, if you thought about it: half the land for a single species, half for the hundreds of thousands of others. But then, humans had a knack for throwing things out of balance. Finding a limit they’d stick to was victory enough. I liked the setting and related lore elements, but beyond that I found this fairly underwhelming. Though I’m not Fifty percent of Panga’s single continent was designated for human use; the rest was left to nature, and the ocean was barely touched at all. It was a crazy split, if you thought about it: half the land for a single species, half for the hundreds of thousands of others. But then, humans had a knack for throwing things out of balance. Finding a limit they’d stick to was victory enough. I liked the setting and related lore elements, but beyond that I found this fairly underwhelming. Though I’m not all that surprised, I didn’t really care for Chambers’ last Wayfarers book and I strongly disliked To Be Taught If Fortunate. It’s a shame because Chambers used to be a favorite of mine. I found Dex somewhat relatable as a protagonist but not particularly likeable, I also struggled with the fact that there wasn’t much visual description of them or Mooncap so I didn’t have much visual stuff going on in my mind. I liked the slice-of-life style of the first portion of the book (that’s what I loved so much about the first two Wayfarers book) but towards the end it basically just devolves into a philosophy discussion between the two main characters and I did not find that interesting at all. But this novella’s biggest sin is that it doesn’t tell a complete story. There’s no resolution to Dex’s original goal with traveling to the location they go to (that whole motivation is seemingly forgotten) and there’s no resolution to Mooncap’s story either, the ending is very open ended and only works as setup for novella two. I’m of the opinion that even in a series of novellas, every entry in the series should tell a complete story even if there’s an overarching narrative (Murderbot is a great example of this). I went in with low expectations but I am still disappointed with how I ended up feeling about this one since I was quite enjoying it to begin with.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/07/20/... A comfy read for when you need a quick pick-me-up story to warm your heart, A Psalm for the Wild-Built is the first novella in a new series by Becky Chambers following a sojourning monk and a precocious robot as they wax philosophical about the meaning of life. A long time ago, in an event known as the Awakening, the robots of Panga chose to take their newfound sentience and venture into the wilderness, never to be seen a 3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2021/07/20/... A comfy read for when you need a quick pick-me-up story to warm your heart, A Psalm for the Wild-Built is the first novella in a new series by Becky Chambers following a sojourning monk and a precocious robot as they wax philosophical about the meaning of life. A long time ago, in an event known as the Awakening, the robots of Panga chose to take their newfound sentience and venture into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Humans, respecting their choice, in turn learned to adapt and live without their A.I. helpers. Centuries later, when a society with robots have become a mere memory, a monk named Sibling Dex has decided to follow a different calling, taking to the road as a traveling Tea Monk. Drawn to the idea of a quieter, simpler life outside of the city, Dex is convinced it is their new purpose. However, instead of the solitude they were looking for, Dex meets a robot named Splendid Speckled Mosscap, who takes a curious interest in the monk. Much to Dex’s annoyance, Mosscap informs them that it is on its own mission collecting information about humans, tasked with finding out what they need and what they want. Feeling unqualified to answer those questions, Dex reluctantly allows the chatty robot to journey with them, but then later learns to appreciate the companionship. The two of them have a lot to teach each other, as it turns out, and the rest of the novella is a chronicle of their different conversations while traveling together. I’m going to be honest here. A Psalm for the Wild-Built was a good book and I enjoyed my time reading it, but nonetheless, I was left feeling oddly unfulfilled after I was finished. Of course, I can think of a couple reasons why. First, I make it no secret I am very picky when it comes to novellas because I need well-developed characters in order to care about what I’m reading, and I find few are able to satisfy \those expectations. Granted, Chambers did a better job than most when it comes to making both Dex and Mosscap feel like fully realized and well-rounded characters, considering she was working within the limitations of a 160-page novella. That said, I don’t think there was anything too profound or that complex when it comes to its contents. Sure, our protagonists discuss a wide range of topics, from what it means to be human (or robot) to whether the divine exists. I suppose you’re meant to feel all overwhelmed and moved by the intensity and deep insight into their conversations, but sorry to say that’s where I was not completely on board. Like the author’s Wayfarer series, A Psalm for the Wild-Built will give you all the warm and fuzzies, but ultimately I felt it lacked the depth you’d find in her novels. This being my sixth book by Chambers might also have something to do with influencing my expectations, because this feels rather typical and simplistic compared to some of her best work. In other words, yes, I think I’ve been spoiled. Still, I’m not sorry I read this. Honestly, I’ll pick up anything Becky Chambers writes because I love her style, and as ever her brand of hopeful optimism is a breath of fresh air. If you’re a fan, you are not going to want to miss A Psalm for the Wild-Built, and despite it being on the lighter side, this novella would also make a fantastic introduction to the author if you’re new to her work. Audiobook Comments: Solid narration for the audiobook edition by Emmett Grosland, who provided just the right amount of emotional weight and emphasis to the characters’ voices. I would recommend.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Veronique

    “We don’t have to fall into the same category to be of equal value.” A new Becky Chambers book is always a joy and it was with much anticipation that I read this novella. As always, we are offered complex and likeable characters in a world that this time I wouldn’t mind living in. I hadn’t heard of the term 'solarpunk’ before but gosh, I truly hope humanity does find a way to make this, or a version, a reality... My only true quibble with this novella is that there was not enough of it! The stor “We don’t have to fall into the same category to be of equal value.” A new Becky Chambers book is always a joy and it was with much anticipation that I read this novella. As always, we are offered complex and likeable characters in a world that this time I wouldn’t mind living in. I hadn’t heard of the term 'solarpunk’ before but gosh, I truly hope humanity does find a way to make this, or a version, a reality... My only true quibble with this novella is that there was not enough of it! The story felt very much like the introduction to a much bigger story, which I think Chambers is writing (in ‘episodes’ it seems). Can’t wait, of course :O)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    4.75 stars A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a beautiful, poignant novella exploring what it feels like to lose you purpose and the search to find it again. Set in a solar-punk world where many years ago robots disappeared from the world into the wilds after gaining sentience, and humans have had to take drastic action after realising their way of living is unsustainable. We follow Sibling Dex, a monk who at the start of the book is feeling unfufilled in their life, despite having a seemingly perfect 4.75 stars A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a beautiful, poignant novella exploring what it feels like to lose you purpose and the search to find it again. Set in a solar-punk world where many years ago robots disappeared from the world into the wilds after gaining sentience, and humans have had to take drastic action after realising their way of living is unsustainable. We follow Sibling Dex, a monk who at the start of the book is feeling unfufilled in their life, despite having a seemingly perfect life on the outside. They decide to become a tea monk, someone who travels round offering cups of tea and a chance to talk to those who are feeling weary of the world or even just tired/stressed. At first Dex struggles to adjust to a new role, but soon becomes the 'best tea monk in Panga'. However again after a couple of years of doing this Dex is feeling disillusioned with life once again and decides to embark into the wilderness in search of an ancient pilgrimage site. Along the way they meet Mosscap, a robot in search of what humans feel they need to survive, a concept which is explored beautifuly throughout the book. I loved the exploration of compassion and caring for others in this book, not just other humans but also other species and plant life. The subtle ecological themes that were woven in throughout the book were done masterfully, the whole book felt like being submerged in a beautiful forest of growth and exploration. I also liked how the idea of people (or any animal) will always priortise their comfort and relieving fear over any long term ecological consequences, and how this leads to situations like we have in our world today with climate change etc. This novella feels like a hope for the future of our world, where humans live in harmony with the enviroment and respect it's natural boundaries. All the lush descriptions of plants and the ecology of the world was fantastic to read about, it created such a vivid enviroment and my little gay plant loving heart was so happy!! I liked how Sibling Dex was non-binary, and how this was just accepted in the world. It was so such a joy to see the interactions between Dex and Mosscap, their differing views on the world and constructive philosophical discussions. Mosscap was such a sweetie and I loved how they defied the typical 'robot' role in a book. I also really liked the concept of the tea sharing, tea has such a meaningful place is so many cultures around the world and the idea of having someone craft the perfect tea for you whilst listening to your struggles was such a lovely idea, and I wish we had something like this in our world. I say this about all her books but I truly believe the world would be a better place if more people read this book and took to heart it's messages. Becky Chambers writing is always stunning and has such a comforting quality about it, this book is no exception. I also love the charm and humour she adds to this book, Dex likes to swear and is pretty chaotic and some moments almost had me laughing out loud, followed by moments where I was nearly tearing up because they resonated so deeply with the struggles I think everyone faces about finding their place in life. In her dedication Becky Chambers says this book is for everyone who needs a rest from life, and that is truly what this book is, a couple of hours escape into a wonderful world with a charming protagonist and will make you feel like you just had a therapy session. True nourishment for the soul.

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