Thursday, June 03, 2010

Books: The Android's Dream


For the truly thrifty, new hardcover books can be purchased for a song at the local dollar store. As you might expect, the selection is limited - you'll find plenty of potboiler thrillers and political screeds (these have short shelf-lives for obvious reasons). Once in awhile, though, you'll come upon a book that's actually worth the dollar, like "The Android's Dream" by John Scalzi.

In the book, humanity teeters on the brink of interstellar war caused by malevolent flatulence, and our only hope is a genetically modified sheep. Harry Creek, a low-level Department of State worker who specializes in delivering bad news to alien diplomats, becomes embroiled in the hunt for the sheep, thrusting him into the middle of galactic political intrigue and derring-do.

The influence of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" can be keenly felt throughout the book. I liked Douglas Adams's droll asides better, but Scalzi does a good job creating a coherent world and populating it with interesting characters. Unfortunately, when it comes time for all the humorous plot setups to pay off, the novel disappoints. The action scenes in the latter half of the book are particularly bland; it feels like you're watching "The Fifth Element" as directed by Woody Allen. Still, "The Android's Dream" is an okay sci-fi novel, especially for a dollar.

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