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

By Becky Chambers

Rating: 4 stars

Sibling Dex is a monk whose vocation is to travel the lands and listen to people’s problems – a sort of travelling therapist. But they feel dissatisfied with their life, and so begin a journey that will take them out of the human lands, into the wild spaces that were given over to nature, and to where the robots retreated when they gained consciousness. They meet one such robot, Splendid Speckled Mosscap, and begin a conversation.

Dex is an interesting character, aware that something’s not quite right but unable to identify it and change it themselves. Mosscap is a very different personality entirely, curious about everything and delighting in the world around it. It doesn’t show up until about a third of the way through the book (until then we’re learning about Dex and the world of Panga in which they live, where humans try to tread lightly through the natural world), but livens up every page thereafter.

The book is optimistic and hopeful; portraying a world where humans realised the damage they were doing during the oil-burning “Factory Age” and made a conscious effort to stop. They use their technology in a very different way now, and although I can’t quite see how we’d get there from here, it’s definitely something to strive towards.

Like all of Chambers’ writing, this story is kind and humane, and a pleasure to read. I might grumble about the cost of novellas, but that won’t stop me from snapping up the next one as soon as it’s available.

Book details

ISBN: 9781250236210
Year of publication: 2021

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