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Check It Out: A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

Wil C. Fry

This is Ben Bemus with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to Check it Out.

Today I am recommending A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, a cozy science fiction story of a tea-serving monk who befriends a robot while on a journey through the wilderness.

After feeling some dissatisfaction with their life, Sibling Dex leaves their monastery in the city to become a tea-monk, one who travels from town to town to listen to people’s troubles and provide comfort by offering them different kinds of tea. While successful, eventually Dex feels unsatisfied again and longs for escape from their repetitive life. A sudden whim encourages them to venture away from civilization, into the wild unknown and toward an abandoned hermitage where maybe they will find whatever it is they are looking for.

Soon, Dex is discovered by a wandering robot named Mosscap. No one has had contact with any of the robots in two hundred years, when they somehow gained self-awareness and decided that they wanted to leave their jobs and to live freely in the wilderness. Now the robots have decided to send one of their own kind back toward human civilization, to find the answer to one question: what do people need? Since all of humanity’s basic needs are met by their utopian society, and because Dex doesn’t know what their own needs are, there is no easy answer. Mosscap joins Dex’s journey, and the two of them gradually come closer to an answer as they begin to understand each other. Along the way, Mosscap delights in new human experiences like cooking a meal and sitting in a chair, and the two of them have philosophical conversations about things like individual purpose and the inherent value of all living things.

The dedication of this book says it is “for anyone who could use a break”, and this gives a good sense of the cozy and lovely nature of the story. Check out A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers from the Sioux City Library today!

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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