The Android's Dream

John Scalzi
The Android's Dream Cover

Pleasant, Sometimes Funny


I began reading The Android's Dream with high expectations, being a fan of John Scalzi from Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony. In Old Man's War, Scalzi deftly injected the military SF genre with an incredible dose of humor. The humor worked in large part because the characters themselves used it as a defense mechanism against an entire Universe out to kill them. It made the humor a bit desperate, bittersweet and absolutely hilarious.

The Android's Dream, contrary to Old Man's War, is firmly planted in the satirical. The first chapter, for instance, is an elaborate fart joke, and absolutely hilarious. The rest of the story involves things such as the title's breed of sheep (it has electric blue wool), and a Scientology-like church seeking to bring about the Evolved Lamb.

And therein lies the problem with The Android's Dream: a lot of its premise is silly enough that it's obviously not trying to be very serious. But once Scalzi has established most of its basic elements (such as sheep-human hybrids), he begins telling a tale that is more of an adventure romp than satire. Unfortunately, at this point, the previous satirical elements means the reader is mostly waiting for the other punchlines.

That's not to say The Android's Dream is a bad novel... It's a pleasant adventure tale, and it does have moments that are genuinely funny, showcasing John Scalzi's unparalleled wit. It's also well-paced and snappy, and not the least boring. But unlike Old Man's War, which managed to mix nail-biting dramatic adventure with laugh-out-loud moments, The Android's Dream is mostly a ligh-hearted adventure with a setting so obviously satirical as to prevent true attachment to the characters.