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The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
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The Android's Dream (edition 2007)

by John Scalzi

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1,572594,648 (3.85)121
Member:thorklund
Title:The Android's Dream
Authors:John Scalzi
Info:Tor Science Fiction (2007), Paperback, 396 pages
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The Android's Dream by John Scalzi

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English (58)  Swedish (1)  All languages (59)
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Summary: After a disgruntled diplomatic employee manages to kill one of the visiting alien Nidu using, erm, ingenious methods, Earth's only hope to avoid war (and likely annihilation) is to procure one of the rare electric blue sheep of the Android's Dream breed that the Nidu use in their coronation ceremony. The job lands with Harry Creek, who is part war hero, part cop, and part hacker. With the help of an AI based on the brain scan of his childhood best friend, they get to work tracking down the sheep. But they're not the only forces at work: someone is killing off all the Android's Dream sheep, so the only one Harry can find is Ms. Robin Baker, a pet store owner with traces of sheep DNA in her genome. Now Harry has to keep Robin safe, since not only are there assassins out to stop her from ever reaching the Nidu, there's also members of the Church of the Evolved Lamb who are working very hard to make sure their prophecies - which were originally made up by a mediocre sci-fi writer, and may or may not involve Robin - come true.

Review: This book, as I expected, was good, solid fun. Scalzi's certainly capable of writing more serious stuff, but I think "zany romp" is what he does best, and this is about as zany as it gets. I didn't go into it expecting too much - I didn't know much about it, other than it was one of his earlier books, that it was stand-alone, that I hadn't read it yet, and that it apparently had something to do with androids. (Which it totally doesn't, by the way. Just sheep. And not that Scalzi's books are usually super tech-heavy to begin with, but this one felt a little lighter on the sci-fi technobabble than usual.)

But I had a lot of fun with this book, probably more than I was expecting. It's one of those books that makes me want to use words like "madcap" (and "zany", apparently; see above). It's a thousand things going on at once, all of them wacky. (There's another of those words.)
While that did make it a little hard to keep track of everything - especially since Scalzi's characterizations are not particularly deep, so some of the supporting characters felt a little interchangeable and thus a little confusing - everything does eventually tie together more neatly and more logically than I was expecting it to, which is quite a feat and which I always appreciate. Actually, in that way, it reminded me quite a bit of Connie Willis's Bellwether... and although the sheep connection probably helped solidify that link in my mind, it's not the only thing they have in common.

On the whole, I enjoyed listening to this book quite a bit. I find Wil Wheaton's voice to be a great match for Scalzi's dry sense of humor, and he was as good here as ever. This book didn't have a lot of deep characters or subtle themes or lovely language, but it did have a fast moving plot, plenty of jokes, and an unexpected yet satisfying ending. Good times. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I'm having a hard time coming up with read-alikes other than Bellwether, so I'm going to use the same recommendation I made for that one: Fans of Scalzi’s sense of humor will for sure enjoy it, as will most readers of lighter sci-fi, as well as anyone who likes the style of comedy where all sorts of crazy things happen but somehow they all fit together into a bigger picture by the end.
  fyrefly98 | May 21, 2016 |
The peace between earth and its allies hangs in the balance over the fate of a thought extinct sheep hybrid. Throw in a cult and reptilian aliens to make "The Androids Dream" I enjoyed reading it ( )
  mazeybooks | Mar 5, 2016 |
I absolutely loved this book. It was smart, fast-paced, hilarious, full of weird aliens and politicians and generally snarky and wonderful.

Harry Creek is a low-level state department employee who gets the illustrious job of trying to find a genetically-altered (and proprietary) species of sheep called Android's Dream - all in order to avoid an alien-human diplomatic nightmare that would most certainly lead to war. When all the sheep are targeted for death (by those wishing to disrupt the alliance between the alien race (the Nidu) and humans), Creek finds one that they missed - in the form of pet-shop owner Robin Baker. Now he has to keep her alive and figure out how to stay under the radar of just about every sentient species out there.

This was the first Scalzi book I've read, and I can't wait to read more! ( )
  chessakat | Feb 5, 2016 |
I should have reviewed this right after I finished listening to it, but I just wanted to move on to something else. My memories of certain details may be a bit fuzzy, but I'll do the best I can.

The story: A human diplomat figures out how to use his own farts to get revenge against the Nidu diplomat who played a part in his father's death. The incident results in both diplomats' deaths and might lead to war, unless Earth's government is able to locate a breed of sheep known as “Android's Dream” and present it to the Nidu for use in their upcoming coronation ceremony. Unfortunately, someone's been killing off every Android's Dream sheep in existence. Harry Creek, a war hero and brilliant hacker, will have to push his skills to the limit in order to locate the last remaining suitable specimen and save Earth.

I got this during an Audible sale because Wil Wheaton's narration in the excerpt seemed pretty good, and because I enjoyed Scalzi's Lock In. Lock In felt fast-paced despite its massive infodumps, and even though its characters didn't really grab me, it made up for that by being a lot of fun. I was expecting more of the same from The Android's Dream, and I was looking forward to the AI mentioned in the description.

A good chunk of the beginning was basically an elaborate fart joke. It was totally juvenile, and I felt a little embarrassed about laughing, but I did laugh. I settled down for what I figured would be a humorous but forgettable story. What I got instead was a forgettable slog up to a part that pissed me off to the point that, if this had been the first thing by Scalzi I'd ever read/listened to, I might never have picked up one of his works again. Instead of quitting, like I kind of wanted to do, I kept slogging until I finally made it to the end, by which time my anger had cooled.

Lock In had a problem with infodumps, but for some reason I didn't mind them in that book. In this one, I did. It felt like the sections on Nidu politics, the Church of the Evolved Lamb, and more went on and on, and I often had trouble staying interested. It helped that Wheaton's voice was nice to listen to, but I eventually realized that one of the drawbacks to Wheaton's narration was that he seemed to only have maybe four or five distinct character voices in his repertoire, and there were way more than four or five characters with speaking parts. Scalzi's writing didn't help much: Creek and Robin, a pet shop owner Creek found himself having to protect, tended to have the exact same snarky tone.

What transformed this book from mediocre to something worse was what Scalzi did with Robin, who, if I remember correctly, was the only confirmed female character with dialogue (there was one character whose gender was never identified). I'm going to have to enter spoiler territory to properly write about this.

Okay, so Creek got word that the last remaining Android's Dream specimen could be found at Robin's pet shop. He thought that the sheep was one of the animals for sale at the store, but he misunderstood. In reality, Robin was the sheep, or at least as close to being one as anyone was going to be able to get. You see, she was adopted. Her biological mother was a lab creation, a sheep-human hybrid so deformed she couldn't even walk. She and the other animal-human hybrids were created so that wealthy and influential people could rape them. The person who created the hybrids tweaked the sheep-human hybrid so that she could get pregnant and planned to use the pregnancy as blackmail material. However, things went wrong and Robin was born, a healthy human-looking girl who happened to have 18% sheep DNA (all in places that had no effect on her physical appearance and little-to-no effect on anything else).

I'm honestly not sure whether this was all supposed to be considered darkly humorous or completely horrifying. I, personally, considered it horrifying. I was fine with the giant fart joke, locust-like alien babies, and the weird cult filled with a bunch of people trying to see if fake prophecies could become real. Bestiality-as-backstory went too far for me.


Robin got crapped on in this book. There are those who would probably disagree with me. After all, she was technically the most important character, and by the end of the story she was briefly the richest and most powerful person on two planets. However, not only did she have a horrifying backstory, she was also a completely worthless character. Creek and Brian, the AI Creek created using a copy of his long-dead friend Brian's personality and memories (or something), did the bulk of the work, and Robin was just there. She wasn't even able to help herself when she decided that she didn't actually want all the things that had just fallen into her lap. Once again, it was Creek to the rescue.

I managed to listen to the whole book, and now I've finally reviewed it. Hurrah. A note to myself, in case I ever get the urge to give it another try, maybe see if it's better in print than in audio: don't do it. Remember the bestiality. Remember the loyal pet dog that was killed and then shot in the head in front of its owner. The AI was not worth it and mostly just felt like a guy who could do amazing stuff with computers and didn't happen to have a body. You're better off reading something else.

Rating Note:

I had a tough time deciding how to rate this. It felt like a 3-star and 1-star book had been stitched together, with the bulk of it leaning more towards 3 stars. However, as I wrote this review, all the distaste I felt for Robin's backstory and the way she was handled in general came welling back up.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.) ( )
1 vote Familiar_Diversions | Dec 24, 2015 |


I loved this book! Young and cheek humor of the legal system at its finest! Action, adventure and Aliens all wrapped up in a quick moving storyline. This is the second book I have read (listened to)by this author and both have been really enjoyable. I am going to read (listen to) another after taking a break from science fiction for a bit. ( )
  Mindslayer | Nov 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
From the title I was expecting some Bladerunneresque cyberpunk noir and instead what I got was a tense political thriller written by a futurist with ADHD.
added by sdobie | editSF Site, John Enzinas (Dec 1, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Scalzi, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eshkar, ShelleyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kempen, BernhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Uchida, MasayukiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wheaton, WilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to Kevin Stampfl, one of my best friends for years, and a good man to know before and after the collapse of civilization.
Also to Cory Doctorow, Justine Larbalestier, Nick Sagan, Charlie Stross, and Scott Westerfeld, my first live audience as a science fiction writer. Thanks for your attendance then, and your friendship now.
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Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765348284, Mass Market Paperback)

A human diplomat creates an interstellar incident when he kills an alien diplomat in a most…unusual…way. 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 extraordinaire, who with the help of Brian Javna, a childhood friend turned artificial intelligence, scours the earth looking for the rare creature. And they find it, in the unknowing form of Robin Baker, pet store owner, whose genes contain traces of the sheep DNA.
 
But there are others with plans for the sheep as well: Mercenaries employed by the military. Adherents of a secret religion based on the writings of a 21st century science fiction author. And alien races, eager to start a revolution on their home world and a war on Earth.
 
To keep our planet from being enslaved, Harry will have to pull off the greatest diplomatic coup in history, a grand gambit that will take him from the halls of power to the lava-strewn battlefields of alien worlds. There's only one chance to get it right, to save the life of Robin Baker -- and to protect the future of humanity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A human diplomat kills his alien counterpart. Earth is on the verge of war...A lone man races against time and a host of enemies to find the one object that can save our planet...a sheep"--Cover flap.

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