Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

May 29, 2009

The Android's Dream

There's a bit of a funny story involved in how I came to be reading this book--Adam went to the birthday party of a friend of ours and the author, John Scalzi, was there and gave Adam this book. Of course, now I'm thinking I ought to get the friend to introduce us. For years, I thought of authors as remote people who rarely conversed with the book-reading public. Then I got old and realized that running into semi-famous people is actually not all that uncommon.

I read and reviewed another book by John Scalzi some time ago--Old Man's War, and while it was enjoyable it wasn't great. The Android's Dream, on the other hand, is just insane. I mean, the book is nuts. It's terrific fun to read and I absolutely recommend it, but I can literally picture Mr. Scalzi sitting at his desk and saying "What's the most absolutely ridiculous situation I can come up with? Okay, now how do I get a bunch of characters to arrive at that end?"

The book is reminiscint of Neal Stephenson and Tim Dorsey all mixed together with a liberal dash of military SF thrown in. There's a lot of fighting and cussing and a great deal of urbane wittiness. There's also a lot of what a witty, urbane person might call Realpolitik but which I will just call political bullshit involved. The plot is very, very obviously contrived--I think the major flaw apart from the often one-dimensional characterization is that Scalzi telegraphs events a bit too much in some instances--but it's still very fun to read if only to see where all the pieces fit together in the end. The absurdity of the plot elements serves to make them feel real in a sort of ridiculous unreal way (like most politics).

It's worth reading once, but it's too complex to read and enjoy while you're sick. This is the sort of novel you read on vacation while you're sitting on the beach getting a tan. It's too shallow to read more than once, I think, so I'm giving it a 2.5 even though I consider it well worth the one read for entertainment purposes.

Rating: 2.5

P.S. I'd at least try to include a synopsis or at least an explanation of the title, but unfortunately this is the type of book where any information of any kind whatsoever is a serious spoiler for SOMETHING. Read it and you'll see what I mean.

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