A Psalm for the Wild-Built
Written by Becky Chambers
Published by Tor.com
Read as a part of a promotional ebook from Tor.com

The Skinny: A post-industrial story so cozy, it should come with a cup of tea.

Cover image: A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Sibling Dex is a tea monk. They peddle the roads of Panga delivering brews and a comforting shoulder as a part of a society that long since gave up on automation and the creature comforts of industrialized society. But they are restless. Dex is good at what they do, and proud of their work, but they are no longer satisfied by it. On a whim, they pedal their bike-mounted home into the forbidden wilderness, where they meet Brilliant Speckled Mosscap, the first robot to make contact with humans in centuries.
A Psalm for the Wild Built is a sociological sci-fi novella built in the tradition of Ursula K. Le Guin. It is an optimistic story in that it predicts a world (or in Panga’s case, a moon) where humanity looked at its actions and changed course before it was too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. Much of the novella is devoted to worldbuilding and the technology that makes such a world possible, as well as the values that the people hold that make it sustainable.
The novella is also is also pessimistic, in its way. Much like in her other writing people are still at the end of the day people, and all the green technology and cups of tea in the world can’t solve the problems we carry inside us. A lot of the story is devoted to Dex and Mosscap’s respective existential crises and goals. Mosscap isn’t sure it will be able to complete its mission to determine what humanity needs after their long separation, and Dex doesn’t even know what they need themself anymore. Chambers’s writing is witty, their worlds are richly imagined and technologically fascinating. She doesn’t stumble over the hard science of how an ox-bike works or a get bogged down in the precise history of Panga, but gives just enough detail to bring her world to life.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a quick, engrossing read about utopia, friendship and the limits of each. It is available in print and ebook wherever books are sold, and I highly recommend it.