A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers celebrates mundane moments and living life for yourself. This solarpunk novella, the first in a series titled Monk & Robot, will be available on July 13th from Macmillan and Tor.com
I was provided with a free ARC of A Psalm for the Wild Built. The opinions I have shared are my own.
Stories featuring interactions between humans and artificial intelligence fascinate me. Becky Chambers, one of the authors to pull this off spectacularly, explores AI interacting with each other as well (like in her novel A Closed and Common Orbit). Chambers’ stories are human and philosophical, leaving her audience with thoughts about existence and what it means to live every day, whether you’re human or not. A Psalm for the Wild Built continues to question life’s existence and purpose, but also brings one of the most endearing friendships between a human and a robot to Chambers’ table.
Dex, a tea monk, spends their days providing solace and comfort to the towns they travel through. After feeling like they need time to themself, Dex decides to head to the hermitage. Just halfway through their journey in a world renewed from a long-ago event called the Transition, Dex encounters a robot named Mosscap. Before, sightings or reports of robots have been rare. Mosscap explains to Dex that the robots had left the factories of the pre-transition world on a parting promise that they would return to humans one day to answer this question: What do humans need?
Becky Chambers has created a gorgeous and introspective future here. It’s a post-apocalyptic world, with brief descriptions of the remnants from the time before, but the story doesn’t focus on the hostility and danger. Instead, the humans here still communicate with each other via tablet computers. Life goes on as usual. But even the stability of everyday life isn’t enough to satisfy Dex. Mosscap challenges this further through conversations with Dex. Dex, later on, realizes that they’ve spent most of their life as a tea monk giving their time and energy to other people.
If you’re seeking a story about enjoying the simple things in life, this is it. Dex and Mosscap’s trek to the hermitage shows that you don’t need a purpose to validate your existence. Just living is enough.
You can read an excerpt here.
You can read more stories by Chambers here.
Author: Brahidaliz Martinez
Brahidaliz (pronounced Bra-da-leez) is a 2019 graduate of American University’s MFA in creative writing program. Their cross-genre chapbook, Coquí’s Song, is forthcoming (2023) from Mason Jar Press.
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