In the eleventh chapter of The Android’s Dream, we learn what happened on the plain of Pajmhi. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Android’s Dream.
Y’all, I didn’t even comment in my previous review about how Creek and Robin didn’t show up once. That’s how much it ruined my brain. And here’s what’s totally unfair about chapter eleven: I’m forced to re-contextualize the whole fucking novel because of what we learn here. Dear John Scalzi: I’d like to make it to the end of my day with my cognitive abilities intact. THIS ISN’T HELPING ME.
Chapter eleven is split into two parts. First, we get a chance to see more of Creek and Robin’s surreal journey aboard the Neverland. Was anyone else incredibly nervous about Creek being recognized at any second? I don’t think their disguises are working anymore (and the end of the chapter strongly suggests that this is the case), so what if one of those surviving members of the 12th Infantry, 6th Battalion showed up? (I should note that, of course, the final scene makes this a moot point anyway. Creek’s already been spotted. WHY DIDN’T I REMEMBER THAT DETAIL THAT ACUNA WAS A 75TH RANGER? Oh, right, because Scalzi was busy shoving a thousand other plots twists into my brain. Unfair, I tell you. Unfair.)
Regardless, it’ll be fascinating to see how Robin and Creek try to fit into their temporary roles as a couple. (They’ll do it with lots of puns and wordplay, which I approve deeply of.) Initially, they have to deal with the logistics of their last-minute escape: buying clothes, concocting somewhat believable backstories, and haircuts. Haircuts are important DON’T JUDGE. The first test of their new identities that doesn’t involve fake skins and fingerprints, though, comes during the dinner they both attend, where they’re forced to interact with other veterans and their spouses. For the most part, Creek smartly stays quiet. At the time I was reading this for the first time, I just assumed he was trying to say as little as possible so as not to reveal his identity or call too much attention to himself (not having his dress uniform was bad enough), but oh no. Oh, that wasn’t it at all.
Robin was staying quiet, though, until the Battle of Pajmhi becomes a necessary part of the conversation. Bless Robin for her blunt question – I know that I deeply needed the context of why this battle was such a huge part of UNE history and Creek’s life – but I was kind of scared of where this was going to go. But Gracie, Lopez, and the others buy Creek’s story that since their relationship is still fairly new, Creek hadn’t told his fianceé about Pajmhi.
OH GOD IT’S SO MUCH WORSE THAN I ANTICIPATED. Through this story, though, I was able to glean some important information about the Nidu. It’s relevant to the last chapter, where Narf-win-Getag and Schroeder revealed the real machinations behind the current diplomatic disaster, though for an entirely different reason. I had said that the anti-Nidu sentiment was manufactured, but now I can see that’s not necessarily true. I didn’t have the full picture. If anything, the AIC simply built upon a prejudice that was already there, and the prejudice came from the UNE’s experience at the Battle of Pajmhi. Ambushed because of a rebel force who’d manage to use the Nidu network that controls all Nidu military actions to spy on the UNE forces, the 12th Infantry, 6th Battalion lost 974 soldiers out of a thousand. The entire ambush was a disaster for the UNE forces, who lost a quarter of their soldiers while another quarter were injured, but for Creek’s particular battalion, it was an utter massacre.
Obviously, this has fucked Creek up. He lost his best friend and 973 fellow soldiers in a matter of days. How could you feel good about surviving that? But then we learn the details of why this battle happened and what the Nidu did in response. UM:
“The Chafgun rebels surrendered to keep their families from starving and dying anymore. The Nidu swept in and took control and as far as I can recall executed every single rebel fighter. So through incompetence and ruthlessness, the Nidu ended up killing tens of thousands of humans, executing tens of thousands of surrendered combatants, and starving and freezing hundreds of thousands of their own people. And now you know why I say, ‘Goddamn Nidu.’ “
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK. I got this so wrong. I GOT IT SO WRONG. And I think that’s largely because I haven’t thought too critically about the fact that multiple times, the Nidu caste system was brought up. I found it interesting, but not enough to engage with it much further than I did. But it helps explain how the Nidu clan in power could value their own lives and power over others. It explains how they were willing to exterminate their own people, regardless if they were complicit or not in the rebellion. It’s so fucked up.
I admit that I was surprised that Creek chose to hide his identity by doing so in plain sight. He barely lied about his past, so I’m wondering if this will get him trouble during the memorial ceremony that’s planned a week from now. Won’t someone recognize him by then? Well, I suppose that relies on the assumption that one of twenty-five other survivors is both still alive and on that cruise, so it’s a slim chance. I also think it might help him cope with the trauma of that memory. Or… shit, it could exacerbate it, too. Wait, I don’t even know if he’ll make it to the ceremony anyway. BAH.
(Prediction time. I’m putting this in rot13 so those reading along with me don’t get potentially spoiled. So! V guvax gur Avqh argjbex gung pbagebyf gur jrncbael gung vf zragvbarq va guvf puncgre jvyy pbzr hc ntnva, naq Oevna jvyy unpx vg. Sbe n cybg. Sbe… ernfbaf.)
We also get to see the AWESOME court scene where Javna masterfully maneuvers Narf-win-Getag into a logical hole, and then buries him with ROBIN’S SOVERIGN POWER. First of all, let me just say that Judge Bufan Nigun Sn is probably my favorite side character to date in The Android’s Dream. He’s a hungover, nasty, sassy, and contemptuous work of art, y’all. HE GIVES THIS SCENE A LIFE THAT IS PALPABLE. Right from the start, he hates the fact that he has to be there. And for good reason, too! To him, this suit not only seems nonsensical but horrifically offensive. The Nidu are going to try to argue that a UNE citizen is actually livestock. Quua-win-Getag goes through the motions, and then Javna….
“Actually,” Javna said, “the UNE would like to stipulate the Nidu assertion that Miss Baker is not human, nor a citizen of the UNE.”
I’m glad that Judge Sn’s and Quua’s reaction was the same as mine. BECAUSE WHAT? Javna then pulls a beautiful feat of legal brilliance by suggesting that Robin is indeed not a human, nor is a citizen of UNE, because she is actually a new species, and therefore:
“It’s one of the fundamental tenets of the Common Confederation, and in the Confederation’s charter, which every nation must agree to upon entering the CC. Furthermore, the Common Confederation holds each sentient species en masse to be sovereign – again, to prevent their exploitation by other races. It’s up to the chosen governments of those species to enter into treaties and agreements on behalf of it’s people.”
HAHAHA HOLY SHIT. Well, at least Robin now has something awesome to brag up. She’s a new species! She is queen of her own nation! Bow down to her. But it’s a legal maneuver that works brilliantly, not only because Quaa-win-Getag is utterly unprepared for it, but because… well, he’s right, isn’t he? You can’t treat Robin like a thing to be owned, can you? Damn, I love that this is a point of contention, and it’s one that is fervently fought for by Javna.
That being said, how the hell is this going to work? At this point in the story, the variables have been twisted into so many different interests and paths that I can’t possibly guess how Robin is going to get out of this alive while Earth maintains its sovereignty. And now that Acuna knows where Creek is, it’s only going to get WORSE AND WORSE AND WORSE.
Damn it. Damn it.
Please note that the words “insane,” “crazy,” “mad,” and “lame” all appear in the text and the videos below.
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