In the sixteenth and final chapter of The Android’s Dream, Robin reveals her final surprise during the Nidu succession ceremony. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish The Android’s Dream.
I mean, I was somewhat close to guessing one aspect of this! I’d hypothesized that Brian would find a way to infiltrate the Nidu network because obviously this needed to happen, but clearly, I wasn’t close to guessing how Scalzi would execute this. Honestly, this whole final chapter is full of things I couldn’t have anticipated without all the pieces of the puzzle. Even Ben’s complicated legal maneuverings were entirely relevant to this finale! This wouldn’t have worked without him! It’s impressive how so many disparate elements were able to come together like this because it allows Scalzi to wrap up all these various plotlines in a satisfying way.
There’s a reason I’m pleased with this ending that doesn’t have to do with the plot, but I’ll save that for the end. There are quite a few surprises that Scalzi was hiding up his sleeve, the first of which is hinted at on the second page of chapter 16:
“But you’re going to have to get used to thinking about things a whole new way. This is as good a place as any to start.”
Oh, Andrea, you were teasing me with the truth right from the start. Of course, I suspected that there was some secret that these people were keeping from me, especially since I didn’t think that they’d just go through with the ceremony without trying to protect themselves. Given how much they now know about Narf-win-Getag’s plotting, I figured that there’d be… something? I DON’T KNOW. The first clue I found was right here:
The last of these was key: In a small but important detail, the questions asked in the ceremony were technically asked of the sacrificial animal itself, but in the event that the sacrifice could not answer the questions (which was always), the questions could be answered by a member of the clan with legal ownership of the sacrificial animal.
A-HA. I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING, JOHN SCALZI. EXCEPT… wait, no, I don’t. Because I couldn’t figure out what the hell Robin could say to save herself. Obviously, she’d get to answer the questions first, but what was the next step? Since LegaCen knew about this “secret” rule, clearly they’d told Robin. And yet? Nope. Even when I try really hard to be prepared for a book, it doesn’t matter. It’s like everything I choose to read for this site has doomed me from the start. I should get used to this.
However, as fun as this all is, I wanted to care about this. It’s an entertaining story, sure! I haven’t felt bored by The Android’s Dream at all. Uncertain about where it was going? Yeah, I think it was hard to anticipate the direction of the novel in the first three chapters, but Scalzi doesn’t take long to begin to pull the curtains back, and then what. But why should I care about Robin and Creek and Brian and Ben?
Well, I know why I care about Robin:
“This is all so unreal, Harry,” Robin said. “I want to wake up in my crappy little bed in my crappy little apartment and have my crappy little breakfast and then go to work and clean out crappy little rodent cages.”
I think it took me sixteen fucking chapters to finally get Robin. Here’s a character that is often the main protagonist. Think about it! There’s something ~*special and unique*~ about her because of the way she was born. She didn’t choose this life. And she’s thrust into this wacky world that’s surreal and bizarre and scary, and she’s got to fight for her life! And be a good person! And protect her free will! And guess what?
She could not give a fuck about any of it.
I picked up on some of the more subtle moments where it was clear that Robin had no interest in this adventure, but it wasn’t until this chapter that I understood that Robin was designed to completely thwart the idea of a fantasy protagonist. Yeah, this is science fiction, but I don’t think the genres are so different that you can’t compare these sort of archetypes. And whether this is intentional or not is obviously speculation on my part. I’m not in Scalzi’s brain, so I can only theorize based on what I perceived in the text. I know that seems a redundant thing to say on this site, since that’s what I do multiple times a day. You would not believe how many times I have had to tell people on Tumblr or in my email that my thoughts are not literally canon. I am not stating that this is the definitive way to interpret The Android’s Dream. But the point of this site is in its name! It’s me reading this book and sharing my thoughts with you. I’m positive I’ll read the comments on this post and find at least a couple interpretations of Robin’s character that won’t be at all similar to mine. THAT’S THE BEAUTY OF THIS.
Anyway, think about what she says after the ceremony is over and we know that she’s safe and undoubtedly one of the most unique people in the universe again:
“The reason I ask is because at this moment I just want to be Robin Baker. Not the Fehen of Nidu, not the Evolved Lamb, and not the richest person on Earth. Not even my own nation. Just Robin Baker, who owns a pet store where by now the animals have completely forgotten who I am. Just Robin Baker, who all she wants is to go home now. That’s all I want to be, if that’s all right with you. Just for a little while. I hope you understand.”
Given this, it’s so intriguing to me to look at her actions in this chapter through this lens. She wields so much power during the ceremony once her trick is revealed, and yet she is instantly ready to give most of it up. Who fucking does this??? It’s so awesome and unexpected!
But let’s get to that ceremony, y’all, because there are a couple of incredible scenes in it that must be discussed. Scalzi does a fantastic job of narrating the moments leading up to Robin’s surprise declaration of ownership. Hell, there’s a point in the video (the first one, I think) where I had to stop and announce how fucking nervous I was. BECAUSE SOMETHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. Creek literally warned me (well, technically he was warning Ben, but still) that it would involve Brian! WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN???
Robin claimed ownership of the sheep. I understood that. I wouldn’t say I necessarily expected it, but it made perfect sense. But oh GODS:
“Give me control of the network!” Robin Baker declared, again in Nidu. “And give Brian Javna complete access!”
I think Brian uploading himself to the Nidu network might be my favorite part of the whole work. It’s a brilliant way to give his character this really touching end because he figuratively and literally grows. AS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. That’s still impressive to me! And it’s neat how Andrea Hayter-Ross acts as a mother figure to him in one sense. (I say “in one sense” because I can’t forget that she also asked him to have sex. Not that I’d judge AI incest! As long as everyone consents, you know???) She’s there to see him off to his new world and new existence as a superbeing of intelligence, and without her, Brian never would have been able to make this journey.
But her education of Brian still resonates in the climax of the book, too. She taught Brian the power of surrender and concession, and I think you can see the influence of that experience in how Brian and Robin negotiate her safety, as well as Earth’s safety. There’s no violence short of Takk’s defense of Robin. Robin refuses to let Hubu annihilate the other forces who very well could rebel in the future. No, so much of the solution to this problem involves giving up. Robin gives up a large part of her power because she wants normalcy. Creek doesn’t keep his confrontation with Hubu public, despite that he has every right to do so. Even the way that the Church deals with Robin is done in a non-aggressive way. Which is impressive, given how violent the events in this book have been.
In the end, though, most of these characters just want their lives to go back to what they once were. Even Hubu-auf-Getag can agree that while the Nidu world has to change due to recent events, his governorship is essentially what he wanted anyway. Heffer and Javna can go back to work without the imminent destruction of their planet hanging over their heads. Robin can, at least for a couple weeks, pretend that all she does is run a tiny pet store.
As for Creek? I don’t know. He’s proven himself to be quite resourceful in this book, but I think that in the end, he isn’t exactly craving another adventure himself. In the final pages of this book, as Takk talks to Archie’s boyfriend and Ben and Brian bond over a life they’ve missed together, I half expected this to end with a confirmation of romantic interest between Creek and Robin. However, Scalzi avoids anything that direct because it’s not the time for that. No, these two people just want to go home, and the idea of that is far more appealing than anything else.
Bless this book. What a ride!
As a special addition, Christian, who commissioned a few chapters of The Android’s Dream, also came up with the brilliant idea of reading “Judge Sn Goes Golfing.” BECAUSE RIGHT, I HAD TO READ THIS.
Thus completes my very first Mark Reads Double Feature. VICTORY. On Monday, October 21, we will start Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan. I’M SO EXCITED. I NEED MORE OF KAMI AND ANGELA IN MY LIFE. Thanks very much to y’all for the journey through The Android’s Dream.
Mark Links Stuff
– If you would like to support this website and keep Mark Does Stuff running, I’ve put up a detailed post explaining how you can!
– Please check out the MarkDoesStuff.com. All Mark Watches videos for past shows/season are now archived there!
– I will be traveling for many events! Check the Tour Dates/Appearances page for up-to-date tour events.