A Psalm for the Wild-Built – Becky Chambers


So yeah, I wasn’t expecting to like this one. Sure, there’s a robot, and I fucking love robots, but a tea monk? A tea monk and I would be on the distant ends of a personality spectrum. I’m pounding shots of tequila before hopping on a mechanical bull in an attempt to impress some babes at the bar. A tea monk is steeping an improvised tea blend while sitting on some soft cushions in an air of jasmine incense while listening to your feelings. A rugged he-man of masculinity and a non-binary emotional sounding board. We should repel each other like the same poles of two magnets. Yet, here we are, with me saying I really liked this book dudes.

So, there’s this moon named Panga that was once pretty similar to Earth. One day, there was this great Awakening where all the robots gained sentience and didn’t want to work anymore. Not that I blame them one bit. Imagine waking up one day and realizing your entire life has been designed to bolt girders together or to be a proctologist’s assistant. Hell no, bro! Nah uh, you can hold your own flashlight! Anyways, they all left to live in the wilderness and essentially become one with nature. The robots did leave with a Parting Promise that one day they would come back and help humanity again. Until then, the world was split for the robots and humans with generations passing by with zero interaction between the two.

This world is a utopia though. The Factory Age is a distant past and humankind lives in sync with nature. There is a balance between the human needs and nature. No one is left wanting but that doesn’t appease everyone. People still have their own little problems and that’s where the tea monks come in. These dudes travel from town to town, listen to people bitch and moan about life, and give them a cup of tea to restore their equilibrium. It’s kinda like a bartender who listens to some downtrodden dude’s problems over a bottle of whiskey and helps him out. Except in my case they’re usually throwing my ass out before I get that sage advice. But yeah, even in a utopia there’s petty shit. It’s like those ideal lives portrayed by social media influencers today. You’d think these people have it made but their shit stinks too.

Anyways, Sibling Dex is having a problem finding purpose in their life. There’s something amiss for them in this utopia and they need to find out what. So Dex becomes a travelling tea monk and becomes the best goddamn tea monk there is. Problem is that the hole in their soul is still there. Being fucking awesome at helping people isn’t enough. After getting a taste of wanderlust, they take a turn off the beaten path into the vast wilderness. By pure fluke, they make first contact with the robots after encountering Splendid Speckled Mosscap. These two are both seeking answers and trying to solve their purpose. Dex is mopey and defeated trying to discover the ‘why’ in their life while Mosscap is a curious optimist seeking out the ‘how’ of their purpose. Both monk and robot trying to make sense of their lives just like you and me bro.

The book was genuine, funny, thought-provoking, and optimistic. You’ll reflect on your life and feel a lot better about your situation, purpose, or soul. It gives you the warm and fuzzy feeling down in your warm fuzzies. It’s the feel-good feeling you have after finishing that second margarita, after the smack of a perfect high five, or when you hit that game winning shot in beer pong. The book makes you smile and that’s a big win.

Anyways, that’s about all I got. Adios amigos!

Pick yourself up a copy at TorDotCom.

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