Review: The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi

A human diplomat kills his alien counterpart. Earth is on the verge of war with a vastly superior alien race. A lone man races against time and a host of enemies to find the one object that can save our planet and our people from alien enslavement…

A sheep.

That’s right, a sheep. And if you think that’s the most surprising thing about this book, wait until you read Chapter One. Welcome to The Android’s Dream.

For Harry Creek, it’s quickly becoming a nightmare. All he wants is to do his uncomplicated mid-level diplomatic job with Earth’s State Department. But his past training and skills get him tapped to save the planet–and to protect pet store owner Robin Baker, whose own past holds the key to the whereabouts of that lost sheep. Doing both will take him from lava-strewn battlefields to alien halls of power. All in a day’s work. Maybe it’s time for a raise.

Throw in two-timing freelance mercenaries, political lobbyists with megalomaniac tendencies, aliens on a religious quest, and an artificial intelligence with unusual backstory, and you’ve got more than just your usual science fiction adventure story. You’ve got The Android’s Dream.

Review

“Dirk Moeller didn’t know if he could fart his way in to a major diplomatic incident. But he was willing to try.” Thus opens The Android’s Dream. The first sentence sets the mood and tone of the remainder of the book remarkably well, as do the title and core conceit of the book.

Following the above mentioned diplomatic incident, which involves farting an alien dignitary to death, earth must make amends by providing the aliens with a sheep. It’s a special breed of sheep known as the Android’s Dream variety, and is characterised by electric blue wool. That’s right. The title and, indeed, the whole book are based on a pun. “It has some literary significance”, one character dryly remarks.

From there, things never get any less absurd or insane. There’s the Church of the Evolved Lamb, a unique religion which is the first in the universe to acknowledge that it was founded by a scam. The religion is based on prophesy invented by a hack writer which none the less has a great many followers, divided in to “Empathists” and “Ironists”. There is an inordinate amount of backstabbing, political manoeuvring and double dealing.

There are even more conceits, puns and jokes, and it’s defiantly best left to the reader to discover them all for themselves.

Many readers have not, in all likelihood heard of John Scalzi. This is a grave and critical mistake. Scalzi’s writing is fast, clever and funny. He has a sense of humour that very few can parallel, let alone better. He has a sharp wit, a wonderful sense of irony and an excellent flow to his books.

John Scalzi also carves out a new niche for himself, which is the science fiction court room drama. There are several  books in which law and courts feature prominently (which will doubtless be reviewed here in relatively short order). These scenes are gripping, entertaining, and thoroughly well thought out. Scalzi comes up with scenes that turn on a dime. His characters are masters of their domain, and the back and forward is truly something to behold. Scalzi writes lawyers well.

In addition to the humour and court scenes, The Android’s Dream has a fantastic story to it. It chiefly tells the tale of Harry Harris Creek, an ex-soldier and current xeno-sapient facilitator (he basically gives bad news to aliens). He’s called up by an old friend to settle the matter of the Android’s Dream sheep. From there, things go in to overdrive as various factions fight to either get rid of the sheep in question, or deliver them, or keep them for themselves.

Not only is the ride great, but the ending is satisfying. It will definitely leave you wanting more.

The Android’s Dream is a superb and highly entertaining book that should be on everyone’s reading list. Don’t delay. Get it now, and get reading.

  • Genre: Science Fiction-Comedy
  • Demographic: Adult
  • Rating Out of Five: 5
  • Format: Paperback
  • Find At: The Book Depository
  • Published: October 2006

3 thoughts on “Review: The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi

    • Scalzi is a fantastic author, and I’m eagerly awaiting the books he has coming out in 2012. Please do read The Android’s Dream; it’s very worth it.

      Like

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