Book Review: A Psalm for the Wild Built, Becky Chambers

Book Review: A Psalm for the Wild BuiltMonk and Robot Book 1, Becky Chambers

A Psalm for the Wild Built, Monk and Robot Book 1, Becky Chambers

Science Fiction: A Psalm for the Wild BuiltMonk and Robot Book 1, Becky Chambers


I absolutely adore Becky Chambers’ books. Her Wayfarers series drew me in and kept me engaged from beginning to end. This new series promises to do the same.


Sibling Dex (they/them) is a monk who is still trying to find their vocation. Not fulfilled in their current monastery, they decide to become a “tea monk,” traveling the world to offer a listening ear, a kind heart, perhaps some gentle advice, and always a soothing cup of tea to people in far flung villages. This is much closer to their desire and Sibling Dex is soon famous for serving the best tea, along with providing much needed emotional support and healing.


Still, the monk finds themself helping others but not finding what they need for themself. Having heard of an abandoned holy site in the mountains, they set off with their tea wagon to find that site and see whether it has anything to offer them. Traveling along an abandoned road through an uninhabited forest, the last thing Sibling Dex expects is to meet another being.


And far beyond the last thing they expect is to meet a robot.


Mosscap is a “wild built” robot. Humans had long ago abandoned the technology required to build robots. Robots had become so evolved that they no longer wished to be slaves to humans. A negotiated settlement long ago had determined that humans would live their lives without robots, and robots would, well, do something. The humans were not quite sure what, since the robots did their thing in areas where there were no humans. Humans and robots had not interacted so far as anyone knew for centuries.


The original robots had long ago broken down, but robots continued to reproduce themselves using parts and circuitry from previous robots. These wild-built robots carried some of the knowledge and experience of their antecedents, but were unique and new and eager to learn. Mosscap was especially eager to learn what humans had been up to in the centuries of separation. Seeking a human, there was great delight in finding one entering the robots’ domain.


Sibling Dex was much less excited. They were on a journey of self-discovery, one of reflection and internal searching. Pairing up with a robot was not part of the agenda.


Becky Chambers has a wonderful gift for giving voice to the “other.” Throughout the Wayfarers series, aliens from sundry species had unique perspectives and very different reactions to the same events. Of course, we cannot know what an alien’s reaction would be to various stimuli, but we can assume both that it would be quite different from a human reaction, yet if we were to have any connection to them as trade partners, as shipmates, as colleagues, or in any other way, the reactions would be at least comprehensible to us. Chambers made the reactions both unexpected and logical, strange yet understandable. 


This same gift is at work in A Psalm for the Wild Built. A gentle and simple plot gives room for the characters to breathe, to interact, to rub against one another and find areas of both tension and affinity. 


It’s almost like having an amazing cup of tea with a new acquaintance who may just become a friend.

A Psalm for the Wild Built, Monk and Robot Book 1, Becky Chambers

Book Review: A Psalm for the Wild BuiltMonk and Robot Book 1, Becky Chambers

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