In A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Hugo Award-winner Becky Chambers's delightful new Monk and Robot series gives us hope for the future.
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?
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Hugo Award winner Chambers (the Wayfarers series) launches the Monk and Robot series with this contemplative, bite-size novel. Hundreds of years ago, when the robots of Panga first gained sentience, they chose to retreat from human society rather than live in it as free citizens and they haven't been seen since. When Sibling Dex, a tea monk, leaves The City, Panga's only metropolis, to travel the countryside offering tea and a listening ear to anyone who needs it, they are forced to acknowledge a deep sense of dissatisfaction with their life. Seeking solitude, they venture into the protected wilderness zone, where no human has set foot in centuries. Their plans quickly go awry when they are approached by Mosscap, an inquisitive robot elected by its fellows to make first contact with humanity and find the answer to the question: what do humans need? Written with all of Chambers' characteristic nuance and careful thought, this is a cozy, wholesome meditation on the nature of consciousness and its place in the natural world. Fans of gentle, smart, and hopeful science fiction will delight in this promising series starter. (Jul.)\n