Friday, January 4, 2008

The Android's Dream

Very rarely does a book come along that I can’t put it down. Even more rare is when that phrase goes from a figure of speech to a literal obsession. John Scalzi's The Android’s Dream is latest of these books, extremely well written, funny as hell, and has quite the amazing story line.

The story is more or less Austin Powers meets The Fifth Element, an interesting, easy to read spy novel. The first chapter sets up the tone, starting with the first paragraph. "Dirk miller didn't know if he could fart his way into an international diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out." The rest of the chapter follows an Earth diplomat who has a really intense grudge on an alien species whose caste system is sort of like feudal Japan on crack. These aliens have a heightened sense of smell, and the elite who run everything have a complicated “scent speech”. Remember that. What follows is probably the longest fart joke in the history of literature. I was in a fairly packed coffee house when I read this chapter…I think everyone there thought I was nuts I was laughing so hard.

The rest of the story follows Harry Creek, a simple State Department worker whose job is to deliver bad news, which gets him the nickname “The Angel of Death”. He gets asked to help the State Department find a sheep named Android’s Dream, genetically engineered to have electric blue wool. I grinned when I read the line “The name has some literary significance”. Basically, the sheep is needed to stop earth becoming a colony, and the reasons and methods would ruin the humor if I explained it here.

So Creek puts the finishing touches on a super A.I. he had been working on for two years and with its help he finds Robin Baker, a cute, scatter brained pet storeowner who’s central to the search for the sheep for the same reasons and methods mentioned above. They are soon tracked by a host of killers, evil, not so evil, and what would be completely harmless minus the fact that he’s an alien in our equivalent of puberty. Also on their tale is a religious group, the Church of the Evolved lamb, founded by a hack-science fiction writer who was being toyed with by the richest woman in the world. This church is far from serious and some of the members are aptly called “Ironists”. I could explain but it’s better to read it.

This book is fantastically entertaining, I have a few quips here and there, but it’s hardly enough to put a dent in this book. Scalzi is a genius with his humor and plot twists, I seriously envy him.

If you’re in the mood for a great funny novel that really will make you laugh out loud, pick up The Android’s Dream.

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