Bingo 24: Travel
A Psalm for the Wild Built is a travel story in both the literal and metaphorical sense. The monk, Sibling Dex, has lived most of their life in The City but they have this sudden urge to try and find crickets to listen to. To do this, they first decide to become a travelling tea monk. Then they decide that they need to go off into the real wilds of the world to find crickets, since they have found success with the tea-monk work but no crickets, which could possibly be extinct but maybe not. As Dex begins the trip towards even they aren’t sure where, they run into Splendid Speckled Mosscap, who turns out to be the titular Wild Built. No spoilers on exactly what that means, since it’s kind of important to the building climactic point of the story.
Mosscap is a robot, and Dex comes from a society where robots are kind of mythological. Way back in the olden days of yore, humanity built robots to basically run the world. Robots somehow gained self-awareness, and asked to go leave, which humanity allowed, and the memory of the specifics history etc. seems to have faded on both sides. Mosscap want to see what humanity has been up to, and Dex has no idea about how to even interact with Mosscap who is not human but also has sentience and reasoning similar to humanity.
This could either go all philosophical or comedy, and it doesn’t really do either one, although the philosophical ‘what is it to be human’ does become a question both Dex and Mosscap have to confront. Dex has to start addressing some presumptions about humanity and Dex’s own perconceptions of the world, and Mosscap has to learn how to deal with Dex as well as the fact that Dex (and thus humanity) doesn’t seem to know explicitly some of the things Mosscap seems to be of the impression they should.
This is an interesting read since it could either be pretty light reading about two individuals who decide to stick together on a low-stakes journey, or it could get pretty deep into self-discovery, humanity, the place of gods and nature, artificial intelligence, creation and legacy, and adaptation. There’s at least one sequel and I’ll be interested to see which way if either the series tilts.