In the twelfth chapter of The Android’s Dream, the pieces for the final confrontation begin to fall into place, and then WAVE O’ FEELINGS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Android’s Dream.
Well, that’s unfair.
You know, I said at the beginning of the second video that I knew something was going to happen, BUT IT WASN’T THAT. This chapter largely serves to set up the end of this novel. Initially, I thought that Takk’s backstory would provide a way for him to save Archie!
But before I talk about that tragedy and start feeling sad again, I wanted to discuss Takk’s culture. One of the things I enjoyed about Old Man’s War when I read it earlier this year was how Scalzi constantly provided insight into the various cultures and species in his imagined worlds. At times encyclopedic in execution, his bouts of exposition are fascinating and clearly well thought out, as is Takk’s backstory in the beginning of the chapter twelve. But they’re never unnecessary. I brought that up earlier when I felt confused by some of the info-dumping. Scalzi doesn’t give the reader information they don’t need, so I thought I was totally prepared for where this was going because CLEARLY TAKK WILL EMPATHIZE WITH ARCHIE.
Plus, I was enamored with the idea that Takk’s maturity was reached by experiencing the world. Look, I’m biased coming into this, but I grew up as a sheltered non-denominational Christian and then a fairly hardline Catholic. (OH, THOSE WERE THE DAYS.) If there were any similarities between the religious experiences I had, either through my parents or on my own, it was that I refused to experience life. With my parents, that wasn’t my choice. I was forced to live in a bubble of ignorance because my mother believed that the world was evil, that everyone was out to get me and corrupt me, and that I was destined for hell. Granted, I secretly fought against that. I smuggled books and records into my room by hiding them in between things in my backpack. I’d often pretend to be asleep so that I could pull out my miniature flashlight and read Stephen King or Jane Austen under the covers. (No wonder I am so fucking blind, y’all. I AM NOT SURPRISED.) I was given a portable radio for my eleventh birthday that was powered by two double A batteries, and I distinctly remember waiting until 10pm to listen to Loveline on KROQ, or staying up to listen to Ska Parade on X103.9 I so desperately wanted to live in the world, but my conservative upbringing made that a challenge.
After I ran away from home, I made this misguided attempt at bring order to the chaos of my life by becoming Catholic. And I spent two years in Sunday school just to be able to take First Communion, convinced that this would give me stability and happiness in my life. Instead, it gave birth to YEARS OF GUILT. Years. I was taught to hate my body, hate my sexual desires, hate my choices in the past, and reject a world that was full of sin. I became even more conservative in a desperate grab for a bit of joy, and I failed miserably. This is why I find the Ftruu so fascinating! Yes, okay, I am not interested in experiencing MURDER, but I like the concept of becoming an adult by going out in the world and experiencing it. That’s honestly what helped me find piece of mind, you know? Going to college helped. Realizing I was an atheist was part of that. And shedding my reliance on guilt and fear really gave me a better sense of self.
Anyway, enough about me. I fell for it. After we left Takk’s perspective, I was convinced that Archie had found a way to keep himself alive. It wasn’t just because of the possible empathetic connection between these two strangers. So much of The Android’s Dream has revolved around the fact that this is a complicated group of people. You can’t predict who will do what because there are too many layers. I assumed, then, that Acuna had misjudged Takk’s dedication and loyalty to him, and we’d get yet another flaw in the plan.
We also know that Schroeder has sent a Nidu military force to intercept Creek and Robin, which worried me even more given what we know is happening on the Neverland. Well, I’m also worried that SOMEONE IS GOING TO EVENTUALLY RECOGNIZE CREEK, RIGHT? RIGHT? Putting that aside, though, it’s clear that the ceremony on Chagfun is going to be awkward without a Nidu military force on their way to nab Robin and Creek, right? Captain Lehane expresses discomfort at returning to the scene of such a brutal massacre, so I imagine that once the Nidu arrive, it’s going to get uncomfortable real fast. How are all these veterans going to react??? BADLY. THAT’S WHAT THEY’LL DO.
Scalzi also checks in with Brian, and I continue to be impressed with how Brian is written. Seriously, he feels like a physical character, though I should point out that it’s this very metaphor that ends up working against Brian in this chapter. As he attempts to figure out how the Church of the Evolved Lamb is connected to everything, I got real excited that he would put this all together. EXCEPT NO, SCALZI IS WAITING AROUND THE CORNER TO SHOVE ME OFF A CLIFF:
“You’re very interesting,” it said. “I’m going to take you apart and find out what makes you tick. I hope you don’t mind. I should be able to put you back together when I’m done. No promises, though. Also, given what I can see of your perceptual structure, this is going to hurt.”
Okay, obviously this is horrifying. But part of the reason this is so shocking is because Scalzi purposely portrayed Brian as… well, invincible! He was always smarter, faster, and more efficient than everything around him. But then, in a matter of seconds, Brian meets something (or someone???) that captures him and rips him apart for her own interest. Y’all, this can’t be a small detail. Who the hell created an AI or security system smarter than Brian? WHO IS THIS???
Anyway, I suppose it’s time to get sad again. Y’all, I really do love the writing here at the end of the chapter, despite that it’s so heartbreaking. I think Scalzi’s sincerity is what gets to me. This ending for Archie isn’t ironic. No, Takk made his first human friend. And in the process, he may have become a part of something much bigger than himself. There’s a calm logic to Archie’s death, but it was this part that got to me:
“Do me a favor,” Archie said. “Sometime in all of this, you might meet a Church member named Sam Berlant. We’re a couple. Tell Sam I send my love, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to the end of this.”
No, I’m not crying at all, something flew in my eye. Don’t judge me.
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