In the fifteenth chapter of The Android’s Dream, Robin and Creek confront a surprise on Pajmhi. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Android’s Dream.
Right off the bat, Scalzi lets me know that I still had no idea of the scope of this story. Through a clever bit combining flashbacks and exposition, I find out that Narf-win-Getag is actually in control of everything. Jean Schroeder? Oh, he is NOTHING. He is nothing compared to the amount of extortion, blackmail, and corruption that Narf has orchestrated. This is some Red Wedding levels of control, y’all. Murder, assassination, betrayal, xenophobia… holy shit, I had it all wrong. But that was by design! I mean, we knew that Narf had his own vested interests in seeking to be head of the Nidu, but this is just… it’s epic. Shit, that’s a great word for this. Ruthless, yes, but also epic. Seriously:
And so it was that in 20 minutes, Narf-win-Getag found himself in effective control of two entire planets. It was almost certainly the fastest double coup in the history of the Common Confederation – which, even in an obscure historical category such as “double coup,” was an impressive feat. All that was left was to make it official. All that was left was to get Robin Baker and take her to Nidu.
With such a ridiculous display of power opening the chapter, I was worried about Robin immediately. If Narf essentially controlled everything, who was to stop him from taking Robin with him? Things down in Pajmhi were surreal enough, y’all. I mean, shit. How weird was this for Creek? He never planned on ever coming back to this place, and now he’s here, hoping to be rescued before anyone gets to him and Robin.
Creek swung around and saw something the size of a grizzly stalking toward him. It had come through the door of the communication center.
I figured out that it was Takk fairly quickly, but that doesn’t mean I was in the least bit prepared for what came next:
“Think nothing of it,” Acuna said, and shot Creek in the left arm midway between the wrist and elbow, shattering his radius and ulna.
JESUS SWEET BABY CHRIST, WHAT THE HELL. Look, it’s not like I thought Creek was perfectly safe from everything. He’s been pretty severely hurt in the past, but this? This is what I would designate as SHIT GETTING REAL. However, it’s the inherent complexity of the narrative that keeps this story paced so well. Obviously, I started freaking out as Acuna raised his gun to kill, but the shift to Takk’s point of view was jarring. The full scope of what Archie had done (and his importance to the story) is revealed as Takk realizes that he can play a much larger part in events than he thought. And that’s what proves to be so neat about the Church of the Evolved Lamb:
Yet there was something compelling about the idea that these prophecies not only might come true, but were thought to come true through the conscious decision of the Church members to make them so. It was an interesting juxtaposition between fate and free will that allowed for both to exist – nay, required them to go hand-in-hand, skipping merrily through the field.
As the reader, we’ve got this fascinating bird’s-eye view of the story, which allows us to appreciate the scope and complexity of The Android’s Dream. I realize I’m being a tad repetitive here, but I do think this is a vital part of this book. This is a combination of those two very concepts. There are aspects of this plot that no one could stop, but it’s also the result of the free will acted out by characters like Archie, Fixer, Brian, Andrea, etc. Mixed in with this, though, is Robin, who actually expresses her anger at how few choices she’s been presented with throughout this journey. And it’s true! She’s justified in feeling like Creek has simply pushed her from place to place without much of a voice in the decision-making process at all. I think that I picked up on that in the last chapter, where Robin didn’t do much but follow Creek in order to stay alive. So, I’m wondering what she’s going to do in the next chapter once she’s reached Nidu. How much of the negotiation that we see at the end is her choice?
I think you can also examine Takk’s behavior as one of realizing his own agency, too. He’d been on his Ftruu for so long that he became bored of it. Not only that, but he exercises his own free will to break from his obedience to Acuna:
It was time for him to make the choice to return to the ranks of the moral, and to those engaged in the process of bettering the universe, not destroying it as a way to get what they wanted; people like the Nidu ambassador or the human Jean Schroeder or even Rod Acuna, who didn’t actually want much of anything other than to be angry and get paid for it.
It’s such a rad way to bring about Takk’s own character development in a way the reflects the theme brought up in this chapter. (Well, in past chapters, too!) For Creek, though, I think I wish I had seen more of what it was that Brian told him was necessary for him to do, you know? Andrea’s advice – that giving up might actually work to their favor – is counter to what Creek has done for this whole book. And if Takk hadn’t intervened, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Creek had found a way to escalate the violence against Acuna. Hell, for that matter, I don’t think Creek would have negotiated with Narf at all. And let’s assume that he had killed Narf and Schroeder. What then? How much more complicated would this have gotten?
Of course, there’s still another chapter, and we still haven’t gotten all of the answers. It’s possible that Narf’s ascension to Fehen could be interrupted by… well, a lot of things. There are like thirty pages left! Something could happen! Oh, who am I kidding? Of course something is going to happen. UGH HOW IS THIS GOING TO END.
Please note that the text and the second video below contain the word “insane.”
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