A Psalm for the Wild-Built

By Becky Chambers,

Book cover of A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Book description

It's been centuries since the robots of Panga gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the…

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Why read it?

9 authors picked A Psalm for the Wild-Built as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

They told me this book is a nice, quiet read, with a vivid, fascinating setting which they’d really like to visit. They went on to say they really enjoyed the interesting main character and that their friendship with the character Mosscap is very well portrayed. Sounds like a good book; maybe I should check it out.

I found this book incredibly touching. It’s science fiction of the “Soft Apocalypse” genre - looking at humanity after environmental ruin, with society rebuilt into a kinder, healthier version of itself.

The main character, a monk named Dex, confronts deep questions about finding meaning in life through their developing relationship with Mosscap, a robot they encounter when they head off into the forest.

Part of the premise of the book is that at some time in the past, robots developed consciousness and chose to separate themselves from humanity and live in the wilderness.

After years of science fiction that deals…

This is a really fun, slim novel set on a moon, Panga, where technology long ago achieved sentience and decided to leave humanity for the wilderness.

The novel opens with a tea monk, Dex, who lives in a gentle utopia and becomes the first human to meet a robot in distant memory. The robot, named Mosscap, asks Dex, “What do humans need?” and what proceeds is a marvelous rolling conversation between robot and monk that spans philosophy, theology, and ecology, providing so much food for thought regarding a happy, nurturing post-transition world.

The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

Book cover of The Circus Infinite

Khan Wong Author Of The Circus Infinite

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Creative expression has been one of my most cherished values since childhood. I've always had a creative hobby of some kind since I was a kid. Not sure how that happened – my parents were tolerant of my interests at best. I made my day job career in the arts, fostering the creativity of community members and supporting the work of artists. Art (in the general sense of all forms of creative expression) is, to me, a defining characteristic of humanity, it makes life worth living, and the way it’s devalued under Capitalism both saddens and inspires me as a creator myself. I’m a writer of speculative fiction and I write about creative people.

Khan's book list on how art is more than art

What is my book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes’ head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But when the boss sets the circus up to take the fall for his about-to-get-busted narcotics operation, Jes and his friends decide to bring the mobster down. And if Jes can also avoid going back to being the prize subject of a scientist who can’t wait to dissect him? Even better.

The Circus Infinite

By Khan Wong,

What is this book about?

Hunted by those who want to study his gravity powers, Jes makes his way to the best place for a mixed-species fugitive to blend in: the pleasure moon where everyone just wants to be lost in the party. It doesn't take long for him to catch the attention of the crime boss who owns the resort-casino where he lands a circus job, and when the boss gets wind of the bounty on Jes' head, he makes an offer: do anything and everything asked of him or face vivisection.

With no other options, Jes fulfills the requests: espionage, torture, demolition. But…


Short and sweet. I don’t always enjoy climate fiction because it tends to be dystopian and often depressing.

However, this story presented a beautiful vision of our future. But it was not unrealistic - people are still people (apart from the robot who was my favourite character).

The hero is also going through their own midlife existential crisis which is resolved at the end - well as much as these things ever are. 

Though gender fluidity has been a part of Becky Chambers’s work since her debut, this nonbinary giant was especially struck by her 2021 novel, A Psalm for the Wild-Built. It’s a thoughtful, witty, meditative story set in a distant eco-utopia where gender variance is simply part of the norm, with characters naturally identifying as she, he, or they without any kind of fanfare. It may not be the most dramatic read, but seeing as we live in a world where people are killed for not conforming to a gender binary, weaving this quiet acceptance into an optimistic vision for the…

This book is about a non-binary tea monk traveling with a robot that is on a mission to collect feedback on how the humans are doing since the robot uprising. I know what you’re thinking…how the heck is this considered cathartic. It’s filled with philosophical gems like: “We don’t have to fall into the same category to be of equal value.” Or, “You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to just exist in this world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or…

Becky Chambers is an auto-buy author for me. I loved her Wayfarers series and this novella didn’t disappoint. A lot of science fiction can be dark, but this little book was full of so much loveliness and hope and beauty. It’s about a tea monk searching for their place and when they encounter a robot in the wilderness, there are plenty of funny and sweet moments to get your serotonin levels up.

This book is the most wholesomely indulgent thing I’ve read all summer. It’s both an escape to somewhere better, and a promise OF somewhere better existing. A world where our needs are met, we take care of each other, and where you can go looking for the songs of crickets to soothe your soul. I’ll give you a taste with one quote.

“Do you not find consciousness alone to be the most exhilarating thing? Here we are, in this incomprehensibly large universe, on this one tiny moon, around this one incidental planet, and in all the time this entire scenario…

From O. E.'s list on a future worth living in.

It's been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered. But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how. They're going to need to ask it a lot.

From Lauren's list on uplifting climate fiction.

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