In the seventh chapter of The Android’s Dream, THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST INTENSE FIGHT SEQUENCES I HAVE EVER READ. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Android’s Dream.
SWEET BABY GANDALF, THAT WAS TOO MUCH.
This is a thrilling, terrifying, and masterfully executed chapter, and as exciting as the extended fight scene is, my favorite part about chapter seven?
I’ll talk about her in the end, so let’s first discuss why this fight scene works so well.
I wanted an escape scene with the WallBall shoes, and John Scalzi gave me something so much better. What’s fascinating about how he chose to plot this is that he did not make Robin and Creek identical in talent, and then he didn’t make them perfect at jumping. Creek’s got a bit more physicality to him because he’s military and was once a cop, but both he and Robin misjudge how to use the WallBall shoes multiple times. Initially, Robin doesn’t make it up to the second level, and Creek once forgets that his shoes have been activated. It makes this scene feel so much more real. At the same time, I can’t ignore just how bizarre and surreal it is to read about a fight where two of the people in it have MOON SHOES.
Basically it’s awesome.
The shoes also provide a neat way for Scalzi to poke at the trope where the heroes never get hurt and manage to take out the bad guys. Not one of Acuna’s men could compensate for Robin and Creek’s ability to defy gravity, and it’s this variable that provided part of the comedy here. I loved the image of Acuna staring at Creek, slack-jawed in shock.
Everyone Gets Hurt
Literally everyone. I don’t like fight scenes where the limits of the human body aren’t acknowledged, but here, everyone is fucked up. Creek nearly dislocates his shoulder, he bashes his elbow, he’s got glass cuts and scrapes all over his body, and his right arm is having the worst day ever. These injuries are routinely mentioned in the text and affect how Creek fights. The same goes for Robin, who injures herself upon attempting to jump up to the second story.
Admittedly, this is a viciously violent chapter, and I’d understand if this wasn’t your thing? But I like the idea that chapter seven lays the cards out on the table: This is how desperate Pope and his men are to get Robin. They will kill Creek, and they’ll probably kill her, as long as they get her DNA. It’s really a sign of how the stakes have been raised.
Putting this scene in a mall? Yeah, incredible. It’s scary, it provides Scalzi the chance to make jokes about things that are on sale, Creek gets to throw a basketball into Acuna’s face, and it’s 100% ridiculous. And Chet! Oh god, Chet is like so many SUPER SERIOUS MALL EMPLOYEES that I’ve worked with before. (I spent a few years as a manager at Hot Topic and Chet is real. He is so real that it hurts.)
The Two PoVs
It’s absolutely hilarious that we get to see how Acuna meticulously set up the operation despite his reservations, only to watch Robin unravel it in less than a minute. Again, it highlights just how unprepared these people were, not just for the WallBall shoes, but for the fact that Robin was going to be the skeptical one.
But it’s Robin Baker who is my favorite part of chapter seven. The way Scalzi characterizes her is my everything. I wasn’t surprised that she so quickly adapted to such a bizarre situation, as her sense of humor helps her navigate what she thought was a joke. But that’s what’s important about her story: she thought this was a joke. So once shit goes down and it’s clear this is a horrifying disaster, she isn’t into the joke anymore at all.
“I don’t think I like you any more,” Robin said.
And it’s the first sign that this isn’t a whimsical adventure for her. She wanted to take Creek on a date, and that date was already interesting enough before ALL OF THIS HAPPENED.
“Robin, how are you doing? You okay?”
“No,” Robin said, and managed to sound slightly astounded that Creek would ask such a stupid question.
BECAUSE RIGHT? Is she okay? I don’t know, dude, I’M GOING TO GUESS THAT SHE IS NOT. I love how jarring this moment is because it speaks to Creek’s inability to remember that SHE STILL HAS NO CLUE WHAT’S GOING ON. Now, I don’t thing that Creek actually believes that Robin is flattered by the attention or is standing there with a gun to her head thinking, “Wow, this is the best date ever!” No, what I love about this is how it’s this neat little admonishment from her towards Creek about the secrecy of his intentions with her, and it’s something she’ll later rage against.
That moment comes after their escape. After they safely board an inbound Metro train, Robin immediately tries to kick Creek in the stomach.
“What was that about?” Creek asked.
DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO ASK THIS QUESTION? MAYBE IT WAS THE FACT THAT YOU DIDN’T TELL HER WHY YOU REALLY NEEDED TO SEE HER. And I’m glad that Scalzi gives Robin the space to be fucking furious with Creek, to rage at him for keeping secrets or at least not letting her know that he wasn’t joking. I feel like this is the sort of reaction any of us might have towards a similar situation. But mostly, I love that Robin doesn’t become the damsel in distress. She isn’t swooning over her knight in shining armor for saving her life. Instead, she’s trying to kick him for putting her in danger in the first place.
Because let’s be real: Ben’s text makes it clear that these two are in INCREDIBLE DANGER. Oh my god, what happened?
Please note that in video 2, the text uses the words “insane” and “morons” if that triggers you.
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