This story takes place in Panga, where robots achieved sentience, but instead of a Matrix-type world, they just withdrew to live among themselves. The people live in a post-factory age, now low tech where people are taught to respect the environment. The main character is Dex, is a non-binary “tea monk.” As a monk, their vocation is to be a sort of counselor. They have a wagon that they peddle from town to town where they setout a rug for people to sit on. People bring their troubles and Dex listens and then makes them a nice tea so they can relax and reflect.
And that is about the pace of the story until Dex starts to wonder if what they are doing is enough. He decides to travel to an old retreat and out in the wild he meets a robot, Mosscap. They share each other’s views, learn from each other, and become friends. Good science fiction is meant for us to reflect on our world by seeing other possibilities. This is a low stress philosophical reflection. No rush to save the world, just a quiet reflection on our place in it.
This is a feel-good story and I listened to the audio version. Em Grosland, the reader, did a good job bringing the ethos of this world and time to life. It was a shorter book and the first in a series. A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers has been nominated for a 2022 Hugo Award in the Novella category.