If this is your first time dipping into the Animorphs Re-Read, I strongly suggest you head back to the beginning and start there unless you’re already familiar with the books. Alternatively, check out the Animorphs Re-Read tag page for a list of every post in the series.
Welcome once more to the Intergalactic Academy’s Animorphs Channel, where it’s all Animorphs, all Wednesdays! Except for that one Wednesday when there were no Animorphs to be had, but I’ve retconned that little hiccup so it actually took place on Swendnesday.
Yes, I can retcon reality. It’s something I picked up in college.
Anyhoo, today we move on to volume #10: The Android, which introduces the Chee. They’re one of my favourite introductions to the larger mythos of the whole series, even if they do make me want to make constant cheese puns. Our narrator today will be Marco, who is depicted below turning into some sort of tarantula:
The Android once again starts off with the Animorphs breaking their oft-ignored ‘no morphing for person reasons’ rule. This time even Jake is getting in on the act (for shame), courtesy of Marco and his hilariously dated tastes in music:
We were walking down one of the streets of our subdivision. We’d shot some hoops down at the outdoor basketball court, and now Jake was dribbling the ball as we walked.
“Nine Inch Nails. Alanis. Offspring,” I said.
Nine Inch Nails is the only one of those three I’ve even heard of…unless ‘Alanis’ refers to Alanis Morissette, which would be kind of hilarious. Anyone want to take bets on what they’ll change the band names to in the updated version? (“Justin Bieber. Susan Boyle. Jedward.” Scholastic, if you’re reading this: CALL ME. I HAVE IDEAS.)
Marco convinces Jake to go by jokingly suggesting that ‘Alanis’ may be a Controller, which would prompt me to post that Picard picture again if not for the fact that this post is already kind of image-heavy.
Jake and Marco morph into dogs and discover that, yes, domesticated dogs are just as goofy and scatterbrained as you’d think.
But wait, something is amiss! No, Alanis Morissette doesn’t demorph into Visser Three halfway through singing ‘Ironic’ (I guess that wouldn’t be ironic enough, oh god that was bad); instead, they notice a classmate of theirs at the concert who seems to have no scent at all. This is pretty strange, verging into ‘really quite odd’ territory, so they decide to investigate further. What makes things even more pressing is that Erek King (that’s his name) was handing out fliers for The Sharing. Have the Yeerks recruited some sort of scentless super-weapon?!
Chapter-cut over to Cassie’s barn, where we get the usual abbreviated introduction to the main cast. I can’t be sure, but I think I might be starting to delineate the rough shapes of some form of pattern in these books.
After the kids suggest a long list of ways to find out more about Erek King, including using Ax’s l33t hax0r skillz to hack the internet, Cassie comes up with a more straightforward solution: just look him up in the phone book.
They decide to
stalk investigate Erek, but they’re limited by the fact that they have to do homework. Of course, Marco has his academic career totally under control:
“A topic will . . . emerge. I’m going to just write until I discover a topic. The topic will rise from these pages. It will reveal itself to me. I just have to keep writing.”
“I am the master of bull. Three pages so far and I haven’t actually said a single thing.”
That’s right, he’s going to be a liberal arts major.
Anyway, Marco and Tobias go on a little recon mission in bird morph, during which they witness Erek getting hit by a bus. Rather than dying from massive head trauma, which is what I’d probably do if I got hit by a bus, Erek briefly drops the hologram making him look human long enough for Tobias and Marco to get a look at the steel and plastic android underneath. Which hardly ever happens when people get hit by fast-moving vehicles, so you just know something weird is going on.
Also, can I just say that robots with plastic parts are cool? Making all-metal robots is so yesterday. Plastics are the way of the future! (At least until we run out of oil and civilisation collapses, but that won’t happen for at least another forty years. So no worries.)
Later on, Tom (that’s Jake’s brother), invites Marco to a Sharing barbecue. Marco figures that this is because his dad is back at work, and has even started working on contracts that he can’t talk about – presumably, this means he has some involvement with the military. Obviously, he’d be a good asset for the Yeerks.
After some speculation from Ax, the kids come to the conclusion that Erek is indeed an android with some sort of holographic disguise. (I spoiled it up above because it’s kind of obvious.) Since he’ll be at the Sharing BBQ/Meet-And-Greet-And-Get-Infested-With-Aliens, it will provide the perfect opportunity to prove Ax’s hypothesis.
To see through his hologram, all they need to do is turn into this:
“Since I knew we were doing this today, I decided to do some reading. This is a wolf spider. It has pretty good eyesight. In fact, it has eight eyes.”
Cassie said this like having eight eyes was a good thing. Like eight eyes was something everyone should want.
Everyone knows all the cool kids have nine eyes. Jeez Cassie, get with the times.
Ooh, ooh, and this is the book where we get an explanation of where all that extra mass goes when the Animorphs turn into something smaller than themselves! Take it away, Ax:
So it goes into Zero-space. Zero-space is the space that ships travel through when they are going faster than light. It’s not very likely to happen, but sometimes a ship traveling in Z-space will intersect with a temporarily parked mass.>
This got my total, complete attention.
<So right now there’s a big bag of Jake floating in Zero-space? And it’s possible some spaceship will zoom along and hit it and splatter it all over?”
<No, no, of course not,> Ax said.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Too soon, it turned out.
<Of course no ship would actually hit a floating mass,> Ax said, talking to us like we were nitwits. <The ship’s shielding system would disintegrate the mass.>
So there you have it!
Marco and Ax both both turn into Spidermans (or Spiderandalites, as the case may be), but Marco briefly gives in to the spider’s unquenchable hunger and goes on a bit of an insect-killing rampage. He feels guilty about it afterwards, hypothesising that he might have been really giving in to his own anger and desire to hurt Tom and the other Controllers for going after his dad. Lest we forget, Marco’s mother is Visser One, so he’s pretty upset at the thought of the Yeerks getting his dad as well. It’s a nice bit of character development mixed with some of the Animorphs ‘what-would-it-be-like-if-you-were-suddenly-a-spider’ action we all know and love.
Marco soon spots Eric, and determines that he is indeed robotic. Not only that, but he isn’t entirely humanoid under his hologram. His ‘foot’ is actually shaped more like a paw, with no toes to speak of. As we’ll see later, there’s a reason for this.
After that comes an odd moment where Ax has to explain what the word ‘android’ means to Marco, which is kind of like how people in zombie movies never seem to have heard of zombies despite living in what is ostensibly the real world.
Oh, and Marco describes Erek as being made of what looks like ‘steel and ivory’, and ‘thousands of interlocking plates’. These Applegate Androids are getting cooler by the minute!
You know what isn’t cool, though? Getting swallowed by a bird. Which is what happens to Marco in the very next paragraph. (I am just knocking it out of the park today.) He accidentally uses ‘public’ thoughtspeak to scream ‘Help, I am currently being eaten by an avian predator’ (or something to that effect), which alerts the nearby Controllers to the presence of an Andalite bandit/plucky Earthling teenager.
In a panic, Marco demorphs….while still halfway down the bird’s throat. I’m picturing its head coming off with a little ‘pop’ sound. I mean, the book doesn’t describe that, but it does say he comes bursting out of its throat as he grows. Man, they got away with some pretty extreme violence with these books.
Unfortunately, Marco is now in the middle of a beach full of Controllers. Oh, and Erek saw him demorph:
Just then, a girl came running up. She looked down at me, then at Erek.
“Who is this?” the girl asked.
“His name is Marco,” Erek said calmly. “You know the “Andalite bandits” Chapman is always talking about? The ones who use Andalite morphing technology to carry on a guerrilla war?”
“Of course,” she said.
Erek pointed down at me. “I think this human is one of them.”
There it was: the end. The end of our existence as Animorphs.
And then…and then…
And then I realise I’m already hitting my word limit and we’re only halfway through this book, and there’s a lot I want to say about the Chee and the second half of this story, so I use my awesome godlike powers to cut this post in half! Yes, I will gather up the rough ore hewn from the Tag mountains, the raw material from which Blog itself is spun out into delicate weaves of Internet Humour, and I will cleave it in twain. Such is my glorious omnipotence!
So, come back next Wednesday for the second half of The Android, along with my general thoughts on the recap so far and my current opinion of the Animorphs series compared with my old childhood fascination. Should you suddenly find that Wednesday has once more become Swednesday, fear not; it just means I’ve decided to alter the fabric of time and space again.
As always, thanks for reading!