The Android’s Dream
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John Scalzi writes serious science fiction, nonfiction and a popular blog. In his latest novel, The Android’s Dream, he turns his pen to humor.
It takes talent to write a novel in which the world may be saved by a sheep.
Everything starts when a human diplomat kills his alien counterpart, one of the Nidu, while attempting to insult him into a murderous rage. The human dies as well, and the incident boils over into a crisis. The Nidu are thrown into an internal power struggle, and Earth must provide the necessary component of the succession ceremony: a sheep from a breed known as the Android’s Dream.
Unfortunately, the breed is nearly extinct from mysterious causes. Fearing for Earth’s future, the government dispatches Harry Creek to find the sheep. His normal job is to give people bad news … so they figure if he can’t find the sheep, he can at least break it to the Nidu gently.
Harry’s search, however, is successful in a most unexpected way. Now he–and the sheep–must find a way to keep Earth out of the middle of an explosive power struggle that could rock the galaxy.
Although The Android’s Dream is meant to be humorous, Scalzi does touch briefly on issues of genetic manipulation and its possible illicit uses. These serious moments provide a counterpoint to the rest of the novel’s madcap nature. Some of the action is propelled by interesting coincidences, but they fit with the story set-up.
The book works well, but it might have been even better with fewer pages. Scalzi supplies a lot of intriguing background detail, but the narrative would have been stronger if he had taken a suggestion from Douglas Adams, and gone for the shorter novel with the big punch.
Even so, this is an enjoyable ride.
Unique and quirky, The Android’s Dream provides surprise plot twists and humor galore. It’s an inventive addition to the science fiction genre.
This review appeared on Owlcat Mountain on February 15, 2007.