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The Android's Dream Hardcover – October 31, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 245 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scalzi's swashbuckling satire of interstellar diplomacy (after 2005's Old Man's War) stars Harry Creek, a low-level State Department deliverer of bad news to alien ambassadors to Earth who's also a war hero and a computer genius. When Earth faces destruction over a diplomatic faux pas with the Nidu alien race, Harry must find and deliver the Android's Dream, an electric-blue breed of sheep, to the Nidu for their coronation ceremony. Dodging Defense Department assassins and Nidu space marines, Harry and Robin Baker, a pet shop owner with sheep DNA in her genes, flee Earth and find their own way to attend the Nidu crowning. Also on the quest for the sheep are disciples of the Church of the Evolved Lamb—founded by an early 21st-century SF writer of "modest talents." With plenty of alien gore to satisfy fans of military SF and inventive jabs at pretend patriotism and self-serving civil service, Scalzi delivers an effervescent but intelligent romp. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Scalzi's third ingenious novel in less than two years speeds his transition from rising star to major player in the sf community. An interstellar scandal explodes when a human diplomat assassinates an alien diplomat by farting at him, albeit using a scent-emitting communicator. To forestall interspecies war, the government enlists former war hero and current uberhacker Harry Creek. His mission: to placate the aliens by finding a unique form of sheep used in the aliens' upcoming coronation ritual. The sheep, in this case, turns out to be unassuming pet-store owner Robin Baker, whose genes improbably incorporate ovine DNA. Before Baker can be secured and summarily dispatched, however, Creek must contend with a succession of meddlesome adversaries ranging from a cult of sheep worshippers to alien thugs itching for interstellar war. Scalzi uses the talent for military sf on view in the Heinleinesque Old Man's War (2005) and The Ghost Brigades (2006) for laughs this time, though there is also plenty of action and technological gimmickry to satisfy fans of sober sf, too. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765309416
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765309419
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on November 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Scalzi, in his Old Man's War, showed that he can write serious drama about important things, and that book was written very much in the mold of a Heinlein novel. With this book, he shows that it's going to be quite difficult to pigeon-hole him into any particular category, as this is a fun romp, with large satirical bites suffusing it, somewhat like those of Neal Stephenson, an overall plot that is reminiscent of another author who has tackled the space-opera of old, Bujold, and with kudos paid to Philip K. Dick. Anyone who can bring such disparate influences together in a coherent whole will never have to worry about being accused of a being a one-note writer.

The book opens with a rather extended joke, where a mid-level bureaucrat manages to do away with his opposite number at the diplomatic conference table via a rather ingenious device that can send messages via scent. Of course, this sparks an immediate diplomatic crisis. In determining how this event managed to transpire and what to do about it, new elements of computer hacking, DNA manipulation, the Church of the Evolved Lamb (shades of L. Ron Hubbard) and their blue sheep, impending all-out war, palace coups, James Bondian skullduggery, and a super-competent hero who nevertheless seems to be constantly getting whacked upside the head are introduced and folded into this whacky mixture.

The plot's the thing here, as none of the characters are super-deep, though they are all well enough presented to make them believable people. At some points, it seems as if the story line has gotten out of hand, gone in just too many directions at once, but the conclusion manages to bring each of the threads together in a surprisingly logical whole.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Scalzi is quickly shaping up to be the next Big Name in modern SF. This book synthesizes the best elements of several of the best other SF writers -- it has plotting and action reminiscent of Heinlein, situational comedy that rivals Douglas Adams while still (somehow) retaining believability, something of Neal Stephenson's eye for future trendspotting and commentary, and even a taste here and there of Vernor Vinge.

This book is definitely for adults, or at least for readers old enough to handle topics like bestiality or the desire of an AI for sex without flinching. The best way to describe the book might be by stating the opening: A human diplomat creates an interstellar diplomatic incident when he uses a rectally-implanted gadget to fart out insulting messages in the scent-language of an alien race. Not that the book is overly crude -- it is, in fact, a testament to Scalzi's writing that all of the crudity is perfectly incoporated into and dictated by the needs of the plot -- but still, be aware. (If this paragraph has made you more interested in the book, good!)

It will be very interesting to track Scalzi's growth as a writer. As good as this book is, there are parts of it that are slightly derivative. But then, as (either T.S. Eliot or Mark Twain, I can't remember) said, "Mediocre writers borrow, great writers steal." There's nothing at all wrong with a book this well-crafted, and with this much of the writer's personal style in evidence, lifting a little here and there from other the other greats of the genre. After all, as the title's allusion indicates, that's part of the fun. And very few SF titles within recent memory are anywhere near as much fun as this.
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Format: Hardcover
John Scalzi knows that the best way to get a reader interested in his work is to hook said reader from the opening sentence. Scalzi opens The Android's Dream with a fart joke. A really good and creative fart joke. Then he spins that fart joke into a brilliant opening chapter which sets the stage for everything that follows. Essentially, John Scalzi sells the entire novel on the premise of a fart joke and then he makes it work. Amazing. It is a work of art.

The Android's Dream is about two groups of men. One group is trying to prevent the intergalactic diplomatic incident that was begun by that opening fart joke. The other is trying to spread the floodgates open wider and really mess things up. The solution to the problems of both parties was to locate a particular sheep. Yes, a sheep. The solution to prevent an intergalactic war is to find a sheep. Obviously hijinks ensue and trouble abounds and things do not go smoothly, but from a fart joke to a sheep (and O what a sheep!), John Scalzi has put together a very funny, sharp, witty, clever, and creative novel. The Andoid's Dream is an outstanding piece of science fiction and serves as a good reminder of what the genre can do.

Really, this book deserves three or four pages of praise rather than three short paragraphs, but it is what it is. Fans of Scalzi, Science Fiction, or Good Writing: You must read this book. Period.

-Joe Sherry
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book by John Scalzi literally starts off with a lot of gas. During trade negotiations between the planets Earth and Nidu, Dirk Moeller of Earth, fitted with a special device from a man known as the Fixer, farts Lars-Win-Getag of Nidu to death! Dirk Moeller, laughing uncontrollably, collapses with a massive heart attack. It seems that the sentient lizard-like creatures of Nidu are smell sensitive and can interpret the meaning of each fart.

The Nidu Ambassador to Earth, Narf-Win-Getag, arrives at the office of the Secretary of State Jim Heffer. The ambassador threatens war with The United Nations of Earth, believing his trade negotiator was smell insulted on purpose. Of the 617 Nations in the Common Confederation, Nidu was only ranked 488th in military power, but unfortunately Earth was ranked 530th, and the Nidu had the Glar Destroyers and the Planet Cracker bombs! Narf-Win-Getag explains that their leader (The Fehen) has died, and his son will be coronated in two weeks. The Nidu need a special breed of sheep for the Coronation, and the breed has been mysteriously wiped out. The demand is simple: Find the electric blue sheep, known as the Android's Dream, for the Coronation, and there will be no war.

This is where our hero, Harry Creek, and heroine, Robin Baker enter the story. Harry, a war hero from the Battle of Pajmhi 12 years ago, is assigned the task of finding the blue sheep. He later enlists the aid of pet shop owner Robin Baker. He also has the help of a dead war veteran, his friend Brian Javna, now a semi-alive computer program in a IBM machine.

The ensuing pages are wrought with many twists and turns along with many questions: Does the Nidu Ambassador really want the sheep found? Is the Secretary of Defense, Bob Pope, on Harry's side?
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