Please don't judge this book too quickly. It gets better very fast after the infantile opening scene with the 'fartmachine'. It's one of the things about American culture that had me baffled for a very long time : where I come from we get over scatological jokes by the time we start school, but it seems they never go out of fashion around Hollywood. Even with my personal reservations, I must give credit to Scalzi for finding a new angle in the field of fart humour, and turning it into an alien criminal investigation.
The higher diplomatic and political Nidu castes had developed a "language" of scents not at al unlike the European nobles of Earth developed a "language" of flowers.
Some of these aliens have really thin skins (or should I say 'noses'?) , and the fartmachine incident is about to develop into a major (but probably very short) galactic war against an enemy with a crushing military superiority over Earth. Our only salvation is for the government of our planet to find and placate the sensitive Nidu with a blue sheep.
It's that kind of story, and John Scalzi channels here the best parts of the zaniness and irreverent dialogues of "The Fifth Element" , with a more highbrow touch of the still zany but better scientifically anchored farces of Connie Willis. It's so funny and so fast paced that I only stopped and thought about the horrible, horrible ways in which a lot of humans and aliens get smashed, dismembered, eaten alive and riddled with bullets a good half hour after I read a scene.
Since I already mentioned "The Fifth Element" I would take the analogy even further and mention that the lead character is obviously modeled on the tongueincheek yet toughguyinacrisis Bruce Willis:
It was the proverbial dirty job. But equally proverbially, someone had to do it, and Harris Creek was surprisingly good at it.
[...] Creek's official title with the State Department was "Xenosapient Facilitator," which meant absolutely nothing to anyone but the State Department bursar, who could tell you that a Xenosapient Facilitator got the GS10 pay grade. Creek's unofficial title, which was more accurate and descriptive, was "Bearer of Bad News."
Harris Creek is a prodigy in computer sciences, military combat and discreet investigations, so he is the first choice for the State Department looking for the lost (blue) lamb known as "The Android's Dream"a touching and fitting nod to Philip K. Dick's masterpiece, one that even posits the same questions about how we define sapience and how we grant rights to aliens and genetic constructs.
I cannot go into more details about the nature of the sheep without spoilers, but I would lay bets readers will be pleasantly surprised at his/her/its identity. The problem for Creek is not so much finding the lost lamb (he has help from another great humorous reference to the dreaded "Office Assistant" paper clip and Siri type of Artificial Intelligence software). The problem is holding onto the 'Android's Dream' and preventing some very determined secret agencies from killing her/him/it. These agencies include, but are not limited to : a rival government department that feels its budget is underfunded and needs a crisis to demonstrate its utility; a rightwing, xenophobic thinktank that looks hostilely at the fragile alliance between Earth and the Nidu; a group of secret government contractors/mercenaries used for 'black' operations; an alien creature with a taste for human flesh; Nidu revolutionaries who want to sabotage the dynastic transfer of power; a mysterious cult that operates both openly and in the shadows.
The Church of the Evolved Lamb was notable in the history of religions both major and arcane in that it was the first and only religion that fully acknowledged that its founding was a total scam.
John Scalzi should write for Hollywood : they are sorely in need of good plots and good jokes around there and "The Android's Dream" is a great example of actioncomedy that I would like to see on screen, preferably directed by Luc Besson. In between shooting it out with the bad guys and making snappy repartees, Scalzi introduces a colourful and satirical picture of the future with interesting technological improvements( fart macine included ) and not so veiled digs at Scientology, militarism, lawyers, online privacy and rival baseball fans. I included the last remark as an unintentional joke on the last season's (2016) dramatic finale:
The 'Senators' have never been good. They're the second most pathetic team in the history of baseball and would be the first, if it weren't for the fact that they go out of business every couple of decades and give the 'Cubs' time to lengthen their lead.
While I find potty jokes and Americancentric future societies slightly unsavoury, I do hope the author will write more humorous alien stuff. I haven't read "Redshirts" yet, since I am not really/yet a trekkie, but I might give it a chance seeing how incredibly funny some of Scalzi's oddball alien portraits are.
The Android S Dream The Android S Dreamby The Android S Dream More Like The Fifth Element Than Bladerunner Originally Published At Fantasy Literature The Android S Dreamis One Of John Scalzi S Earlier Books, And A Stand Alone Rather Than Part Of A Series, So I Couldn T Resist Given The Obvious Philip K Dick Reference In The Title I Decided To Go Into This One Without Knowing Anything About The Plot Or Reading Any Reviews At All I The Android S Dream Wikipedia The Android S Dream To Avoid War, Earth S Government Must Find An Equally Unusual Object A Type Of Sheep The Android S Dream , Used In The Alien Race S Coronation Ceremony To Find The Sheep, The Government Turns To Harry Creek, Ex Cop, War Hero And Hacker Extraordinare, Who, With The Help Of A Childhood Friend Turned Artificial Intelligence, Scours The Earth Looking For The Rare Creature The Android S Dream By John Scalzi , Welcome To The Android S DreamFor Harry Creek, It S Quickly Becoming A Nightmare All He Wants Is To Do His Uncomplicated Mid Level Diplomatic Job With Earth S State DepartmentThe Android S Dream EBook Scalzi, To Avoid War, Earth S Government Must Find An Equally Unusual Object A Type Of Sheep The Android S Dream , Used In The Alien Race S Coronation Ceremony To Find The Sheep, The Government Turns To Harry Creek, Ex Cop, War Hero And Hacker Extraordinare, Who, With The Help Of A Childhood Friend Turned Artificial Intelligence, Scours The Earth Looking For The Rare Creature Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep Analysis By Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep Novel By Philip K Dick Tells Of A Bleak World In Which The Planet Earth Has Been Left To Rot After A Devastating Nuclear War In The Aftermath Of The War, Most Animal Species Have Gone Extinct, And People Now Measure Their Worth In Although I've heard nothing but good things about John Scalzi's Old Man's War, I still haven't gotten around to reading it. Which, given how much sheer fun The Android's Dream is, makes me an idiot. Seriously. If you can put this book down after reading the first paragraph, you're a better person than me. It's got action. It's got adventure. It's got power politics and strange alien races. It's got the snappiest dialogue since Nick & Nora Charles set the banter highwater mark. Get it. Read it. Love it. And right soon A delightful romp of a space opera crossed with an espionage caper. For this entertainment we bid goodbye to the gloom of dystopias and dark postapocalyptic struggles (with or without zombies) and return to a time when humans of merit have the agency to save the world from villains. The villains here include aliens with colonial exploitation of Earth in mind and bumbling, backstabbing bureaucrats vying for a piece of their action.
Instead of invading, the reptilian Nidu are buying up our suburbs and bribing our politicians for beneficial business deals. The Earth’s administration has recently joined the Common Confederation of intelligent galactic species as a junior member, on the lines of a third world country missing the military might required for power and respect. We know we are in for a bit of madcap Spy vs. Spy when some dirty tricks by agents of the think tank American Institute of Colonization to stall trade negotiations with the Ministry of Trade to make the Nidu fall out of favor ends up backfiring.
Dirk Moeller didn’t think he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was willing to try.
Bravo for Scalzi not being afraid of employing low humor. Also, for leaving it alone most of the time. I won’t spoil the fun with details, but it’s fair to say that the Nidu are angry, and though far down in the power structure of the confederation of species, they have the capacity to crush Earth. It’s enough to make permanent enemies in the Departments of State and Defense start to work together. The Nidu are able to extract a favor, which is to locate a blue sheep of a special rare genemod breed needed as a critical part of coronation of the next ruler of their extreme topdown society. Our intrepid hero Harry, a lowly State Department staffer, is assigned this important but daffy task and soon uncovers why a certain pet store owner, Robin, is the key to resolving the sheep chase.
But a rival Nidu family line wants that secret to take the throne themselves. And Harry, due to his training as a soldier in a disastrous NiduonNidu colonial war they dragged humans into, has the skills and motivation to protect Robin against both rival factions and humans bought in as mercenaries. A pyrotechnic shootout and escape at the mall with Robin is enough to make him turn rogue on the order of Bruce Willis in “Die Hard.”. A lot of thrilling action is served up with aplomb and eventually we change venue to offplanet locations. Their secret weapon is an AI created as a simulation of Harry’s compatriot Brian, who lost his life in the Nidu war. The big showdown has a surprising and satisfying conclusion.
When it was all over, my first reaction was to grade it 3 stars as pleasant, mindless entertainment. But soon I came to recognize how this kind of clever fun is rare in sci fi literature these days and upped the stars a notch. After all, I consider comic thriller films like Men in Black and The Fifth Element worth high stars, and unlike some old Heinlein novels of yore that approached comparable madcap plots, I didn’t have to put up with libertarian preaching.
3.5 stars or a bit more. It was a fun read, a conspiracy theory, SF adventure with lots of tongue in cheek humor, coincidences & odd aliens. Scalzi has a lot of fun poking sticks at legal systems, religions & diplomacy. There is a lot of computer work in it, including some very interesting points about data collection & privacy that is quite obviously pointed at our current system. An interesting read, although I doubt I'll ever read it again. Half the fun was not knowing what would come next. Now that I do, I don't think it would be nearly as enjoyable. 4 Stars
My first John Scalzi book that I have read and I will now grab up his other books as I am now a fan. This is a tough review to write as by saying what I like about this book might make it seem like it less than it really is.
This is a funny book. It is filled with clever wit, funny parodies, and downright corny jokes. The jokes are all over this one and give it a great feel, without actually detracting from the science. This is a science fiction novel, a space opera, and a futuriistic conspiracy novel where the stakes are nothing less than the fate of the Earth and all the people living on it. The jokes add color and flare to the action and chase scenes. They coincide with the plot points and move the story forward. At times they have you laughing out loud.
The first chapter had me hooked, an Earth trade representive developed an anal device and used it to enrage an alien diplomat by farting. "We're pretty sure that it's a device used to send chemical signals the Nidu could smell and interpret through a code of theirs. We think that your guy hid this until he got into the room, and the used it to enrage the Nidu negotiator into a stroke. He had a heart attack right after. He died laughing, Ted. It didn't look very good.". Too funny, an alien strokes out because of too much bad farting and the gassy man dies of a heart attack laughing his butt off.
"Dr Atkinson had warned James for years to eat a more balanced diet..." James was eating too much meat.
"Then in the afternoon we start on livestock quotas. We begin with sheep."
" Do ewe think that's a good idea?". Haha so baaaaaad it's funny.
The story is a straight forward scifi involving the Earth, Alien races, traitors, and impending war(doom). There are many cool creatures, gadgets, and technologies. Creek is a likeable lead and Robin is equally easy to identify with. There are a couple of typical bad guys for us to hate, and a pace that keeps us interested. The action is decent, and the prose is competent too. I really feel that it is the integration of so much humor and sattire that made this one a good read.
I highly recommend this book to science fiction readers that don't take themselves too seriously and fans of books by Terry Pratchett would probably appreciate the wit of John Scalzi. A really enjoyable story with bit of humor. More consistent than Redshirts. Good fun adventure and saving planet earth at the same time, just what I needed for my night watch! I wasn’t going to write a review of this book because I couldn’t really think of anything to say. It was great, funny, wrapped up with pretty much all eventualities covered. A typical John Scalzi book.
The recap: There’s been a diplomatic disaster. Two people are deadhuman Dirk Moeller and Nidu trade negotiator LarswinGetag. The Nidu are an alien race inhabiting the worlds surrounding Earth. Known for their tempers and disregard for races and species other than their own, the Nidu make unwelcome, wicked neighbors that, for the safety of Earth’s population, must be handled with great care and sensitivity.
So when a mysterious object is found lodged inside of the dead Dirk Moeller’s ass, Secretary of State Jim Heffer becomes suspicious. The Nidu use a mixture of subtle scents to communicate to each other on a physiological level available only to Nidu, and high caste Nidu at that. Could Moeller have provoked LarswinGetag on purpose and antagonized him flatulently into a rage potent enough to give him a heart attack?
Of course, the Nidu need little in the way of provocation to find an excuse to be angry with humanity. Incensed, they propose a deal: find the electric blue Android’s Dream sheep needed for the Nidu’s upcoming coronation ceremony and the entire matter will be forgiven.
Unfortunately for Earth, this particular breed is mysteriously and rapidly disappearing. AntiNidu sentiment is high and it seems someone has a head start on defeating the already tenuous peace negotiations.
Determined to salvage the situation, Heffer recruits army veteran Harry Creek, known for his technological prowess and intellectual capacity despite an easy State Department desk job. Now he’s on the hunt for both the sheep and the manufacturer of Moeller’s device in a journey that will include saving an Unmodified Pet store owner, destroying the inside of a shopping mall, a cult, and an interstellar space cruise.
Android’s Dream is a satirical blend of culture and technology. There are no dates to ground ourselves on the Scalzi timeline. On this Earth, psuedovegetarians (meatlovers with a guilty conscience) rule the market with genetically vatted meats grown entirely independent of any animal intervention. There’s even hybrid meats, like the Bison Boar Burger coexisting on a world where Spam is still consumed with relish and delight.
Scalzi is a writer who knows how to pace his stride and deliver a punch line and snappy, witty dialogue. He’s not a world builder, he’s a character builder, constructing his novel from an utterly human perspective with a keen eye for alien psychology. Scalzi has a firm grasp on what motivates each of his characters and their reactions are some of the most realistic I’ve ever read. I love the dynamics of the unlikely friendships and relationships that develop. It’s too bad most of them happen at the end of things: life, the novel. But the depth of each connection is so strong and wholly believable, a few pages of touching openness, honesty, and complete vulnerability is enough to convince me two kindred souls finally found each other. Which is amazing considering the fastpaced action and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”esque backstabbing and oneupmanship that made for one hilariously entertaining read.
At times, the solutions seemed a bit too clever, if you know what I mean: Scalzi sitting at his computer cackling maliciously at his own genius. But, I supposed what bothered me the most was the lack of loose ends that make for effervescent speculation once I close a book. My imagination was being told what to and not to expect from this universe and none of that silly “what if” nonsense! There’s worse things I could find to complain about, though.
Android’s Dream is a mustread for everyone, including fans of his Old Man’s War trilogy. Some of the tropes are reused: alien negotiations, alien politics, military adventure, and Godtrigger military weaponry, but Android’s Dream is more than just a few Science Fiction conventions. I love this book and I hope you will, too! I'm glad I read this after reading John Scalzi's Redshirts. Had I read The Android's Dream first, I would have been slightly disappointed in Redshirts, as it wasn't as funny as The Android's Dream. And it wasn't just funny, either. It had memorable characters, great action sequences, and a plot filled with twists, turns and intergalactic political intrigue.
And to think I almost stopped reading this book in the first chapter when a character kills an alien dignitary with an anal device programmed to send farts with insulting scent messages, thinking it was too sophomoric for my tastes. I'm glad I didn't, as it gets exponentially betterwittier and less low browafter that initial tonal display of this book.