I first read A Psalm for the Wild-Built in December 2021. This is a reread in preparation for A Prayer for the Crown-Shy. The first time reading A Psalm for the Wild-Built, I was blown away. Chamber’s evocative writing, meditations on purpose and our place within the natural world, along with the depictions of the soothing powers of tea spoke directly to me. A Psalm for the Wild-Built was just as affective the second time as the first.
Chambers writes of a utopia where humans have finally come into harmony with their environs. It took near destruction of the environment and the walk out of robots to bring about this change. A few hundreds of years have passed and robots are now a memory. Now, all needs are met and society embraces all walks of life. But even within perfection there can still be personal discontent. Sibling Dex has a good life as a monk of Allalae, god of small comforts, but is dissatisfied. Dex struggles with being very good at their profession and valued by the communities they serve but finding it doesn’t bring them the joy it once did. A small idea, that it would be nice to hear crickets, takes root and won’t let go. Dex soon finds themselves leaving the human side of the moon and heading off into the wild lands of robots to seek out crickets. Dex finds far more than they bargained for when the robot Mosscap walks into their campsite.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a meditation on purpose and fulfillment as well as a first contact story. Sibling Dex feels they are horribly unsuited to the role they find themself in but perhaps they are the ideal individual for Mosscap to have found. It is also a lovely idea of how our future could be, living in harmony with the world around us.
Of all the concepts presented in this book, tea monks and their service is my favorite. The ritual of tea feels particularly well suited for a god of small comforts. The idea of a sacred space to share my burdens, or enjoy a moment of peace, with a cup of tea brewed personally for me sounds heavenly.
Chambers writes sci-fi from a very different lens. There are no dude bros, dude bro-ing in space, as emmalita once said. I appreciate her soft sci-fi vision and studies on humanity, identity, purpose, and value.
Note: I drew a bear in the Cozy bingo square for Allalae, god of small comforts (depicted as a bear) and Sibling Dex’s monastic order.