A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (Monk & Robot #1)
It's been centuries since the robots of Panga 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's 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 with Emmett Grosland (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: MacMillan Audio
LENGTH: 147 pages (4 hours 8 minutes)
GENRE: Science Fiction
Queer Rep Summary: Genderqueer/Nonbinary Main Character(s).
A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT follows a tea monk who, after several years of traveling between villages serving tea and providing people a calm place to talk and rest, travels into the wilderness and meet a wild-built robot.
The worldbuilding is specific enough to feel grounded, but doesn't get bogged down in small details. Most of the story is told through introspection and conversation. This is a thoughtful novella about purpose, peace, and personhood. Some parts are definitely stressful for the main character, so how stressful it is for the reader will depend on how much they resonate with the tea monk's existential angst. I enjoyed it immensely and intend to read the sequel.
CW for cursing, grief (brief), alcohol (brief), fire (brief), injury/injury detail, animal death (brief), death.