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Flash review: Psalm for the wild-built (Monk & Robot book 1)


Sci fi book review of A Psalm for the Wild Built (Monk & Robot Book 1) , a new book by Becky Chambers, and robotics insights. A juvenile/ young adult novella enjoyable for adults as well. In a future world, a tea monk named Dex, who is traveling about the world in his bicycle-powered camper, encounters the return of the robots. Robots had spontaneously become intelligent in what was called the Awakening and then then left human-habited areas asking for privacy while they figured out their existence. This is a lovely departure from literary trends with the typical robot-uprising-kill-all-the-humans scenarios. Mosscap, the eponymous robot, has been sent to ask humans “what do people need?” which Dex, as would be expected for the first book in a series, is hard pressed to answer. Along their travels, Mosscap endearingly notes that robots are more than machines in the same way that people are more than animals. The book eloquently explains many concepts familiar to roboticists, especially agency and ethics. The book has very little action yet it isn’t too talky, just skirting the border of being overly twee and preachy. Overall, it makes a great family book to read and discuss while camping (or anytime), especially as it offers opportunities to naturally introduce and motivate STEM topics. See also our top recommendations for science fiction books for gift giving.


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