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?
Title : A Psalm for the Wild-Built
Author : Becky Chambers
Series : Monk & Robot (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 160
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ scifi/fantasy
Publisher : Tordotcom
Release Date : July 13, 2021
Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★.5
Hollis’ 3 star review
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 publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Micky’s 3.5 star review
A Psalm for the Wild-Built was conceptually clever (when is Becky Chambers ever not?) and in many aspects, it was quite a beautiful tale. It started off curiously, then built and built into a connection between a monk and a robot. Yes I did just say that and if that doesn’t draw you in, I don’t know what will.
This sci-fi offering comes with Chambers unique perspective on the genre, it carries a ecological tone along with sense of searching. Robot and humans were estranged for centuries in this book until the monk and robot happen upon one another.
The story was engaging the most from the point of those two meeting and exploring each other’s species. There was banter, misunderstandings and poignant moments. There were also some slower moments, where I had to push on, thus my rating.
“So, that’s…sorry, I’m slow at math.”
Dex frowned. “What?” How was the robot slow at math?
“Hush, I can’t multiply and talk at the same time.”
I’m definitely pleased that this is going to be a series. I have questions and a desire to see this journey through. A gorgeous cover and clever concept from Chambers.
Thank you to Tor for the early review copy.