A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Centuries ago, on the moon of Panga, the robot workers, who filled the factories and other industrial pursuits of the human civilization, gained consciousness. Rather than be integrated into Pangan culture, as they were offered, the robots chose to leave, en-masse, into the surrounding wilderness. They were never heard from again.

Sibling Dex, a monk at the Meadow Den Monastery, chooses to pursue providing tea-service to the people of the surrounding villages. They make the necessary arrangements and begin learning, self-taught, how to provide tea-service. In a short time Dex becomes the best tea-monk in Panga. But nothing in their previous experiences prepares Dex for when a robot, Splendid Speckled Mosscap, emerges from the forest, walks into their campsite and asks “What do people need?”

In A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers, the award-winning author of The Wayfarers series, returns with a quiet novella that is quirky, thoughtful, and hopeful. Chambers uses the moon of Panga and its inhabitants, biological and artificial, to explore not only Earth’s past, but also a future we would be lucky to achieve.

Chambers also explores some of the “big questions” that we all ponder. For that purpose, she has created a fascinating pair of characters: Sibling Dex, a self-declared and self-taught tea monk who is looking for more from their existence, and Splendid Speckled Mosscap, the first robot to venture into human habitations in centuries, who is unceasingly curious, inclined to say, or ask, whatever occurs to it, and is intrigued by anything relating to humans, regardless of how mundane. Together, they are perfectly suited to debate and explore these “big questions” of life (both theirs and ours).

This novella is beautiful, thought provoking, and unrelentingly optimistic. It is also the beginning of a new series. Let’s hope the wait for the next one is not a long one!

Read the interview with the author here.