The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Android’s Dream, by John Scalzi

I had so much fun reading this book! And that’s despite a major gripe with it, which I’ll discuss at the end.

One of the things I really liked about it was that it got almost all of the details about Washington DC right. (The exception? See the gripe at the end.) When you live in or near a book’s setting, you notice these details. Scalzi’s story is set in the future, where Earth’s State Department is working to avoid a war with a better-armed planet. Harry Creek, mid-level diplomat, ends up trying to save both the planet and his new love interest, Robin Baker. The book is alternately funny and clever, and Scalzi’s solution to the problems of inter-galactic conflict are inventive.

As far as animal lovers go, this book is Mostly Safe. There’s only one instance of violence against an animal character, and I found it jarring. It’s skippable, in my opinion. You can stop reading from the very last line of page 212 and pick up again about 2/3 of the way down page 213, with the sentence starting “Takk wedged his monstrous body…” Otherwise, the book was pretty good from an animal lover’s perspective. Robin Baker runs a pet store and deeply cares for her charges. A neighborhood of DC is known as “Dogstown” because it’s been taken over by an alien race of gregarious, cheerful carnivores. And there are sheep.

What there aren’t many of — and here comes the major gripe — is women, especially in places one would expect to find women. For example, the U.S. government hasn’t been this testosterone-saturated since the Hoover administration. I mean, come on — no women bureaucrats? At all? None in the State Department? An all-male army? In the future? I just came off of a NASA project where half the feds were women. Including the boss. So Scalzi gets everything right about DC except he turns it into an all-male enclave, aside from Robin. That’s the most unrealistic thing in the book (published in 2006), and it makes me question what planet he’s on. It’s one thing to believe our own sex is more interesting than the other and therefore favor them in telling stories and such, but this is just plain bizarre.

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September 26, 2008 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews, humor | , , , ,

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