Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: The Android's Dream

The Android's Dream
The Android's Dream by John Scalzi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So the entire book is essentially one extended pun-reference to [a:Philip K. Dick|4764|Philip K. Dick|]'s [b:Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?|7082|Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?|Philip K. Dick||830939]. We have characters who are, quite literally, both an Android's Dream (Brian) and an Electric Sheep (Robin) and yes, it takes about as much ridiculous contrivance to make that happen as you might expect.

And yet, Scalzi saves it from being a moronic [a:Piers Anthony|8516|Piers Anthony|] punfest. The reference thing is purely superficial - good for a quick laugh, and then he drops it. And then he touches on some of the same issues that the original did - what makes a human? - but with a light touch, and not distracting from what is otherwise quite a fun convoluted political adventure romp. I liked his characters, including the aliens; I liked his flirtation with technology without getting bogged down in trying to explain anything overmuch; I like his poking fun at Scientologists; I like that his main characters are attracted to each other but don't just fall into bed with each other at the end because of the Unbreakable Laws of Bond Flick Causality.

There's a weird moment right at the end where we suddenly get a couple of crucial facts just handed to us by the disembodied narrator for no apparent reason, and then we don't know which characters are aware of these facts and which aren't. If they'd been kept a secret from us too I think it would have been too cheesy a plot-twist, but as it was it felt like a cheesy plot-twist spoiled by your office co-workers or something. But its a minor quibble, in what was otherwise quite an enjoyable book.

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