In the second chapter of The Android’s Dream, I have been tricked by the literal nature of things again. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Android’s Dream.
Well, this is unexpected.
Obviously, this chapter is not as action-packed (or as fart-packed) as the opener, but it establishes the context for this book in a way chapter one could not. I really like the idea that the first chapter almost stands on its own, like it’s a short story, so it’s nice that the same humor and worldbuilding continues here. I admit that I haven’t quite figured out what’s going on here. The setting confuses me at times, though I suspect that’s intentional.
What I can figure out, though, is that some sort of mutual colonization has taken place between Earth and various alien planets spread around the solar system. Because it’s my only source of reference, I have to try and not think that this is the same world as Old Man’s War (the first book in that series, I mean), despite that there are some similarities right off the bat. Alien-human colonization is the only strand I can see between the two, especially since this book starts off examining the government bureaucracy as opposed to the military focus of that series.
So! I’m coming into this with as open of a mind as I can. It’s clear that Moeller’s fart attack had disastrous ramifications for trade negotiations, as he planned, but this chapter reveals just how ridiculously complicated everything is. What I didn’t expect to see is so much narration from the various parties in the government who are vying for their own piece of power. Of course, my mind instantly went to The West Wing, since I’m watching that right now for Mark Watches. In that sense, it was eerily familiar for me to read about representatives from State and Defense attempt to navigate a delicate diplomatic nightmare while doing what’s best for themselves. Because this is about political ambition as much as it is about the disaster that Moeller caused.
We’re introduced to Secretary of State Jim Heffer and his aide, Ben Javna, who both sit in front of Moeller’s fart device, well aware that what Moeller did was intentional, that this was all a deliberate attempt to unravel Nidu negotiations. A string of “important” people cycle through their office as the news of the “coincidental” deaths hits the news. Ted Soram, the Secretary of Trade, shows up, and the characterization we get has enough depth that these people feel familiar. I don’t know much about them beyond the surface, but the surface works at this point. I mean, I don’t even know who the main character is yet! Are they ever going to show up? What if every chapter was from the point of view of a different person??? (Oh shit, don’t steal that. That is my idea and I’m gonna do it.) (Wait, The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister already did this. DAMN IT.) (Oh my god, that book is fucking amazing.)
While this book was certainly entertaining, it wasn’t until the reveal of the reasoning behind the title that I was hooked. BECAUSE I SERIOUSLY THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE ABOUT ANDROIDS AND NOPE. NOPE. First of all, I love the idea that this is all based around a strange custom involving sheep and that Heffer is totally willing to help the Nidu out. On the surface, it is about diplomacy, but I also like that there’s no condescension from Heffer at all. It speaks to how normalized this all is. I’m sure Heffer is used to all sorts of weird requests or displays of tradition. But… oh my god, everyone. The Nidu don’t need just any sheep for their coronation ceremony:
“It needs to be a sheep of a particular breed, and a particularly rare breed. In fact, it’s a breed that was specifically designed for the Getag clan when it came to power; it’s distinguishing physical characteristic is the color of its wool.”
Heffer reached over and took the tablet. It was a picture of a sheep, with electric blue wool.
“The breed is called Android’s Dream,” Narf-win-Getag said.
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT SHEEP? Well:
I wasn’t! Sheep? Sheep???
But it’s not about sheep so much as its about the two forces at work here. The anti-Nidu element of the government was instrumental not only in Moeller’s act, but in eradicating the world of this specific breed of sheep. Clearly, some people don’t want the Nidu anywhere on Earth. Which makes me wonder: What’s their next step? Assuming that Heffer and Javna can’t acquire an Android’s Dream sheep, won’t the Nidu attack Earth? And wasn’t it implied fairly heavily that the Nidu possessed the capacity to annihilate our planet? So… what are they trying to do? What’s the motivation?
I’m not sure, but you better believe I want to find out. I love the drama provided here with the various governmental organizations secretly hating one another and working against the other’s best interests. I want to know more about this world! I want to know who Javna had in mind as a possible breeder for Android’s Dream. I want to know why the Nidu must be expelled from our planet. And I want to know how this book is going to unfold when it’s technically about sheep with electric blue wool.
Oh, it’s so deliciously weird, and I’m all for it.
Please note that the words/terms “idiot” and “nutbag” appear in the original text/videos in case those trigger you.
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