A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers – double review!

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.

THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.


Title : The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
Author : Becky Chambers
Narrator : Patricia Rodriguez
Series : Wayfarers #1
Format : Audiobook
Length : 15 hours, 41 minutes
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Hodder Books
Release Date : August 13, 2015

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

Sadly I’m feeling rather underwhelmed by this series starter when I really expected to enjoy it. I’m a lover of sci-fi and the idea of a fun bunch of species romping the galaxy sounded right up my street and in some ways it was.

THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET was incredibly complex in terms of characterisation of species. I initially thought the whole book would be from Rosemary’s POV but as soon as she landed on the Wayfarer, it became multi-POV. I wasn’t always enamoured by some of the POVs, nor all of the ship’s crew as characters. I did like Rosemary, Ashby, Lovey, Dr Chef and Pei. Sissex and Ohan took some getting used to and I think that some of the early description of their species lacked the depth I needed to connect.

What I did like was the vibe of the crew on the ship; it was light hearted, warm and welcoming. They were a close crew, a family really. I also liked how relationships were depicted, gender, connections were of little importance and there was a natural tone to how romantic connections were made.

The plot was slow at times but it always picked up eventually with some event happening. I think I wanted a bit more space drama than there was. Maybe this was exaggerated by listening on audio, although the narrator was good.

My ultimate feeling on finishing is that there is enough here for me to carry on with the series. I have finally made some connections with the characters and there was a little action towards the end that I hope spells a better pacing ahead.

TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers – double review!

In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of galaxy transform themselves.

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in sub-zero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to explore neighbouring exoplanets long suspected to harbour life.

Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds fifteen light-years from Earth, she and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

A new standalone novella from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of galaxy transform themselves.


Title : To Be Taught, If Fortunate
Author : Becky Chambers
Format : Paperback arc / hardback
Page Count : 176
Genre : Sci-fi
Publisher : Hodderscape (Hodder & Stoughton)
Release Date : 8 August 2019

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

I didn’t know what to expect from this as a sci-fi novella, unconnected to any story and yet, it blew my expectations out of the water. This is a full-bodied story, detailed and captivating. It was told from the perspective of Ariadne. She was one of four intrepid astronauts who were willing to say goodbye to earth for a long time and to their families forever to explore four different planetary bodies.

The science in this read was complex and yet easy to follow, I grasped the developments that underpinned space exploration in this era. The science first few planetary bodies lulled me in, transfixed me with the descriptions and made me invested in Ariadne, Jack, Chikondi and Elena. Their separate and joined-up intellect was colourful reading and their problem-solving made me want to get closer. The dynamic between the four was fascinating and the glossing around the intimate relationships was fitting and represented a natural diversity. This team were to all intents and purposes, a family.

The status quo did not continue however, and watching the team navigate problems, their isolation and getting the measure of their psychological status was fascinating. The unraveling of various characters felt tangible. This story examines humanity on a small scale and yet humanity on a grand scale became a poignant issue.

Becky Chambers writes complex sci-fi in a palatable, engaging way. This is a novella you are going to want to read and then think about afterwards.

Thank you Hodderscape for this gorgeous early copy of the book.

Hollis’ 4 star review

I really don’t know what to say about this book. I’m coming to it months after Micky’s original review, and the reviews of so many others, all of whom are far more eloquent than me. I just know that this story lulled me into loving it. It was a slow, smart, heartwrenching, and thoughtful, seduction.

I’m an observer, not a conqueror. I have no interest in changing other worlds to suit me. I choose the lighter touch : changing myself to suit them.

I’ve read Chambers before and knew to expect something intelligent and diverse and this novella is no exception to that. I found the narrow, but so wide, scope of this story to be so intimate, so enthralling, and this quartet of explorers, all human and so different, but all with the same goal, to be a group I could have happily read about for a hundred pages more. How this ends really got me and that makes me want so much more, too.

Read this book.

** I received a finished copy from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **