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The Android's Dream Hardcover – October 31, 2006
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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.
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If you like Hitchhikers sort of humor and sci fi, this is a story you have to read/hear. Oh... and Wil Wheaton does a fantastic job on the audio versions. I would look for him again on any audiobook.
Humanity and the alien Nidu are at peace. At least on the outside. Inside humanity has major problems with the Nidu. Half the world wants to kick them back to their home world while the other half wants to exploit any advantage they have with the Nidu as reluctant partners.
While the Nidu only control a small fleet of war ships, those ships far outclass anything Earth has in its fleet.
Our story starts with a high level meeting between human and Nidu diplomats to hammer out an agreement. Unknown to the Nidu the Earth's head diplomat hates their guts and is just dragging on negotiations to aggravate them. However he does have an ace up his sleeve, or rather in his shorts, as he has had installed a special technology that manipulates farts to send messages to the Nidu who converse with smells.
Moving on from that we then have two opposing groups trying to find a special breed of sheep called Android's Dream. The Nidu need one for a special ceremony. So one group desperately tries to find the sheep while the other group methodically works to kill them all.
In a saga that travels from Earth to the home world of the Nidu we have a nonstop roller coaster of a story. Twist and turns are everywhere and the plot twists are well thought out, developed and highly entertaining.
HIGHLY recommended book and Author
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? Does Robin Baker have the Android's Dream DNA in her body? Can Harry solve this mystery with so much opposition? You will have to read all 394 delightful pages to find out.
What's unusual about this book is all the interesting side characters. They include the human-eating Takk, the computer geek Archie McClellan and the thug Rod Acuna. If you are a sci-fi fan, this is a must read. Congratulations to John Scalzi for another exciting novel.
To summarize without spoliers, humans are all messed up and so are the aliens they deal with. And to prevent war, a lot of strange events have to happen.
I like to think of Scalzi as an American cross-pollination of Pratchett and Adams. He has a different way of looking at things, that when you read you can't help but think, "Oh man, I should have thought of that!"
So, in this book...go in empty-handed (just don't expect Old Man's War, tonally) and enjoy.
Having now gone through all of his books, he's become my favorite author. I hope he has a long, productive, successful career. I'll certainly be on board for whatever he comes up with.