After Scalzi mentioned this book on his blog, I decided to read it. So off I went to my favorite establishment in the world, The Public Library. (Sorry, man, cash is tight and bookshelves are full, no buying books for a while.) This is the first of Scalzi’s novels I’ve read, but I have been following his blog for a while and find it entertaining, so I expected the same from the book. I was not disappointed.
The Android’s Dream (title and one of the main characters in the book are indeed nods to Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) is set in the indeterminate future, at a time when Earth has made contact with many alien species and is a youngish member of the Common Confederation, an interplanetary governing body. Earth’s closest allies are the Nidu, who are fairly low ranking in the CC but still higher than Earth. The Nidu leader dies and, due a weird government system, the heir apparent has to follow a coronation ceremony precisely to become the new leader. Well, the leader who just died happened to take power not long after humans met the Nidu, and to make the coronation ceremony special the Nidu clan taking power had humans create a unique genetically engineered sheep species that has electric blue wool that has a critical part in the ceremony. Said species being The Android’s Dream. The auf-Getag clan (the current leadership) has ownership of the only samples of this species.
Now, another Nidu clan is trying to wrest power from the current leadership, and to prevent the auf-Getags from completing their coronation ceremony they start killing every Android’s Dream sheep in the galaxy. Of course there is political intrigue and cloak and dagger stuff, and then a very special Android’s Dream is found on Earth. To tell you any more would ruin one of the big surprises in the book.
The Android’s Dream was clever, funny on several levels (everything from fart jokes to bad puns to good puns to actual witty conversation). It also introduced a new idea for me – the idea of a church that exists to make its prophecies come about through its own actions. And it has most of the bedrocks of sci fi: aliens, space travel, big ships with big guns, genetic engineering, hybrids, and artificial intelligence. I think the only one he missed was time travel. I definitely recommend this book, and I will be checking out more of his stuff soon (probably Zoe’s Tale next…after the big pile already sitting in my living room staring at me of course).