A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers
Chock another success up to the Page One book subscription! While I may have canceled that subscription (and they also did NOTHING to try and get me to renew my membership…seems like a missed opportunity there), I’m still getting around to reading some of the books I was sent, which includes A Psalm for the Wild-Built.
Centuries before, robots of Panga gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, wandered, en masse into the wilderness, never to be seen again. They faded into myth and urban legend.
Now the life of the tea monk who tells this story 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 will need to ask it a lot. Chambers’ series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?
I am AMAZED by the creativity of authors (and all creatives, really). I mean this in the best way, but A Psalm for the Wild-Built was WEIRD. It wasn’t weird in a Desdemona and the Deep kind of way. That book was garbage.
With novellas like this, you’re thrown into the story. Not like longer novels where you come back to some of the exposition throughout the book. You are just thrown into the deep end. This book introduced robots and “tea monks” and a verity of gods and all sorts of things. Recommendation: Just accept everything at face value.
I practically ran out of page flags toward the end of the book! Someone on TikTok defined this book as a “warm hug” and I absolutely understand that. It makes me sad that I didn’t think of it first.
Favorite Quotes & Passages
“I don’t know. It was just this . . . this crazy idea that popped into my head on a day when the thought of going down the same road and doing the same thing one more time made me feel like I was going to implode. It was the first idea in forever that made me feel excited. Made me feel awake. And I’ve been so desperate for that feeling, so desperate to just enjoy the world again, that I . . .”A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Page 120
“If we want change, or good fortune, or solace, we have to create it for ourselves…It was the little nudge that helped important things get done.”A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Page 135
“So, why, then do you insist on having a purpose for yourself, one which you are desperate to find and miserable without? If you understand that robots’ lack of purpose — our refusal of your purpose — is the crowning mar of our intellectual maturity, why do you put so much energy in seeking the opposite?”A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Page 137
“You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that or earn it. You are allowed to just live.”A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Page 139
“Then how,” Dex said, “how does the idea of maybe being meaningless sit well with you?”
Mosscap considered. “Because I know that no matter what, I’m wonderful,” it said. There was nothing arrogant about the statement, nothing flippant or brash. It was merely an acknowledgement, a simple truth shared.A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Page 141
This book was so delightful! I posted about it on Instagram, and one of my friends reached out to tell me that the next in the series, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, is just as wonderful. I bought it, so stay tuned!
Note: This post contains affiliate links, so I may receive a commission from sales generated.