The Android's Dream

The Android's Dream

by John Scalzi

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765348289
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 10/30/2007
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 207,185
Product dimensions: 4.27(w) x 6.89(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

JOHN SCALZI is one of the most popular and acclaimed SF authors to emerge in the last decade. His massively successful debut Old Man's War won him science fiction's John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation, and Redshirts;which won 2013's Hugo Award for Best Novel. Material from his widely read blog, Whatever, has also earned him two other Hugo Awards. Scalzi also serves as critic-at-large for LA Times.

He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.

Read an Excerpt

The Android's Dream

By John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2006 John Scalzi
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-1470-3


Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out.

Moeller nodded absentmindedly at his assistant, who placed the schedule of today's negotiations in front of him, and shifted again in his chair. The tissue surrounding the apparatus itched, but there's no getting around the fact that a ten-centimeter tube of metal and electronics positioned inside your colon, a mere inch or two inside your rectum, is going to cause some discomfort.

This much was made clear to Moeller when he was presented with the apparatus by Fixer. "The principle is simple," Fixer said, handing the slightly curved thing to Moeller. "You pass gas like you normally do, but instead of leaving your body, the gas enters into that forward compartment. The compartment closes off, passes the gas into second department, where additional chemical components are added, depending on the message you're trying to send. Then it's shunted into the third compartment, where the whole mess waits for your signal. Pop the cork, off it goes. You interact with it through a wireless interface. Everything's there. All you have to do is install it."

"Does it hurt?" Moeller asked. "The installation, I mean."

Fixer rolled his eyes. "You're shoving a miniature chemistry lab up your ass, Mr. Moeller," Fixer said. "Of course it's going to hurt." And it did.

Despite that fact, it was an impressive piece of technology. Fixer had created it by adapting it from blueprints he found in the National Archives, dating to when the Nidu and humans made first contact, decades back. The original inventor was a chemical engineer with ideas of bringing the two races together in a concert that featured humans, with the original versions of the apparatus placed near their tracheas, belching out scented messages of friendship.

The plan fell apart because no reputable human chorus wanted to be associated with the concert; something about the combination of sustained vocal outgassing and the throat surgery required to install the apparatuses made it rather less than appealing. Shortly thereafter the chemical engineer found himself occupied with a federal investigation into the nonprofit he had created to organize the concert, and then with a term in minimum security prison for fraud and tax evasion. The apparatus got lost in the shuffle and slid into obscurity, awaiting someone with a clear purpose for its use.

"You okay, sir?" said Moeller's aide, Alan. "You look a little preoccupied. Are you feeling better?" Alan knew his boss had been out yesterday with a stomach flu; he'd taken his briefings for the today's slate of negotiations by conference call.

"I'm fine, Alan," Moeller said. "A little stomach pain, that's all. Maybe something I had for breakfast."

"I can see if anyone has got some Tums," Alan said.

"That's the last thing I need right now," Moeller said.

"Maybe some water, then," Alan said.

"No water," Moeller said. "I wouldn't mind a small glass of milk, though. I think that might settle my stomach."

"I'll see if they have anything at the commissary," Alan said. "We've still got a few minutes before everything begins." Moeller nodded to Alan, who set off. Nice kid, Moeller thought. Not especially bright, and new to the trade delegation, but those were two of the reasons he had him as his aide for these negotiations. An aide who was more observant and had been around Moeller longer might have remembered that he was lactose intolerant. Even a small amount of milk would inevitably lead to a gastric event.

"Lactose intolerant? Swell," Fixer had said, after the installation. "Have a glass of milk, wait for an hour or so. You'll be good to go. You can also try the usual gas-producing foods: beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, raw onions, potatoes. Apples and apricots also do the trick. Prunes too, but that's probably more firepower than you'll really want. Have a good vegetable medley for breakfast and then stand back."

"Any meats?" Moeller had asked. He was still a little breathless from the pain of having the apparatus sent up his tailpipe and grafted to his intestine wall.

"Sure, anything fatty will work," Fixer said. "Bacon, some well-marbled red meat. Corned beef and cabbage will give you a little bit of everything. What, you don't like vegetables?"

"My dad was a butcher," Moeller said. "I ate a lot of meat as a kid. Still like it."

More than liked it, really. Dirk Moeller came from a long line of carnivores and proudly ate animal flesh at every meal. Most people didn't do that anymore. And when they did eat meat, they picked out a tube of vatted meat product, made from cultivated tissue that never required the butchering of an animal, or even the participation of any sort of animal outside of the purely mythical. The best-selling vatted meat product on the market was something called Kingston's Bison Boar™, some godforsaken agglomeration of bovine and pig genes stretched across a cartilaginous scaffolding and immersed in a nutrient broth until it grew into something that was meatlike without being meaty, paler than veal, lean as a lizard, and so animal friendly that even strict vegetarians didn't mind tucking in a Bison Boar Burger$#153 or two when the mood struck them. Kingston's corporate mascot was a pig with a bison shag and horns, frying up burgers on a hibachi, winking at the customer in third-quarter profile, licking its lips in anticipation of devouring its own fictional flesh. The thing was damned creepy.

Moeller would have rather roasted his own tongue on a skewer than eat vatted meat. Good butchers were hard to come by these days, but Moeller found one outside of Washington, in the suburb of Leesburg. Ted was a boutique entrepreneur, like all butchers these days. His day job was as a mechanic. But he knew his way around a carving chart, which is more than most people in his line of work could say. Once a year in October, Ted damn near filled up a walk-in freezer in Moeller's basement with beef, pork, venison, and four kinds of bird: chicken, turkey, ostrich, and goose.

Because Moeller was his best customer, occasionally Ted would throw in something more exotic, usually a reptile of some kind — he got a lot of alligator now that Florida had declared a yearround hunting season on that fast-breeding hybrid species that the EPA introduced to repopulate the Everglades — but also an occasional mammal or two whose provenance was often left prudently unattributed. There was that one year when Ted provided ten pounds of steaks and a note scrawled on the butcher paper: "Don't ask." Moeller served those at a barbecue with former associates from the American Institute for Colonization. Everyone loved them. Several months later, another butcher — not Ted — had been arrested for trafficking in meat taken from Zhang-Zhang, a panda on loan to the National Zoo. The panda had disappeared roughly the time Ted made his yearly meat drop. The next year, Ted was back to alligator. It was probably better that way for everyone, except possibly the alligator.

"It all starts with meat," Moeller's father told him often, and as Alan returned with a coffee mug filled with 2%, Moeller reflected on the truth of that simple statement. His current course of action, the one that had him accumulating gas in his intestinal tract, indeed began with meat. Specifically, the meat in Moeller's Meats, the third-generation butcher shop Dirk's father owned. It was into this shop, nearly 40 years ago now, that Faj-win-Getag, the Nidu ambassador, came bursting through the door, trailing an entourage of Nidu and human diplomats behind him. "Something smells really good," the Nidu ambassador said.

The ambassador's pronouncement was notable in itself. The Nidu, among their many physical qualities, were possessed of a sense of smell several orders of magnitude more fine than the poor human nose. For this reason, and for reasons relating to the Nidu caste structure, which is rigid enough to make 16th-century Japan appear the very model of let-it-all-hang-out egalitarianism, the higher diplomatic and political Nidu castes had developed a "language" of scents not at all unlike the way the European nobles of Earth developed a "language" of flowers.

Like the noble language of flowers, the Nidu diplomatic scent language was not true speech, in that one couldn't actually carry on a conversation through smells. Also, humans couldn't take much advantage of this language; the human sense of smell was so crude that Nidu trying to send a scent signal would get the same reaction from their intended recipient as they would get by singing an aria to a turtle. But among the Nidu themselves, one could make a compelling opening statement, sent in a subtle way (inasmuch as smells are subtle) and presenting an underpinning for all discourse to follow.

When a Nidu ambassador bursts through one's shop door proclaiming something smells good, that's a statement that works on several different levels. One, something probably just smells good. But two, something in the shop has a smell that carries with it certain positive scent identifications for the Nidu. James Moeller, proprietor of Moeller's Meats, Dirk's father, was not an especially worldly man, but he knew enough to know that getting on the Nidu ambassador's good side could mean the difference between his shop's success and its failure. It was hard enough running a dedicated butcher shop in a largely vegetarian world. But now that more of the relatively few meat enthusiasts remaining ate the newly arrived vatted meat — which James vehemently refused to stock, to the point of chasing a Kingston's Vatted Meat wholesaler from his store with a cleaver — things were getting precarious. The Nidu, James Moeller knew, were committed carnivores. They had to get their vittles from somewhere, and James Moeller was a man of business. Everybody's money was equal in his eyes.

"I smelled it down the street," Faj-win-Getag continued, approaching the counter display. "It smelled fresh. It smelled different."

"The ambassador has a good nose," James Moeller said. "In the back of the shop I've got venison, arrived just today from Michigan. It's deer meat."

"I know deer," Faj-win-Getag said. "Large animals. They fling themselves at vehicles with great frequency."

"That's them," James Moeller said.

"They don't smell like what I smell when they're on the side of the road," Faj-win-Getag said.

"They sure don't!" James Moeller said. "Would you like a better smell of the venison?" Faj-win-Getag nodded his assent; James told his son Dirk to bring out some. James presented it to the Nidu ambassador.

"That smells wonderful," Faj-win-Getag said. "It's very much like a scent that in our custom equates with sexual potency. This meat would be very popular with our young men."

James Moeller cracked a grin wide as the Potomac. "It would honor me to present the ambassador with some venison, with my compliments," he said, shooing Dirk into the back to bring out more of the meat. "And I'll be happy to serve any of your people who would want some of their own. We have quite a bit in stock."

"I'll be sure to let my staff know," Faj-win-Getag said. "You say you get your stock from Michigan?"

"Sure do," James said. "There's a large preserve in central Michigan run by the Nugentians. They harvest deer and other animals through ritual bow hunting. Legend has it the cult's founder bow-hunted one of every species of North American mammal before he died. They have his body on display at the preserve. He's in a loincloth. It's a religious thing. Not the sort of people you want to spend a lot of time with on a personal basis, but their meat is the best in the country. It costs a little more, but it's worth it. And they have the right attitude about meat — it's the cornerstone of any truly healthy diet."

"Most humans we meet don't eat much meat," Faj-win-Getag said. "What I read in your newspapers and magazines suggests most people find it unhealthy."

"Don't believe it," James Moeller said. "I eat meat at every meal. I have more energy physically and mentally than most men half my age. I've got nothing against vegetarians; if they want to eat beans all the time, that's fine with me. But long after they're asleep in their bed, I'm still going strong. That's meat for you. It all starts with meat — that's what I tell my customers. That's what I'll tell you." Dirk returned from the back with several large packages of meat; James put them in a heavy-duty bag and placed it on the low counter on the side. "All yours, sir. You enjoy that."

"You are too generous," Faj-win-Getag said, as a flunky took the bag. "We are always warmed by such hospitality from your race, who is always so giving. It makes us happy that we'll soon be in the neighborhood."

"How do you mean?" James Moeller said.

"The Nidu have entered into a number of new treaties and trade agreements with your government, which requires us to greatly expand our presence here," the ambassador said. "We'll be building our new mission grounds in this neighborhood."

"That's great," James Moeller said. "Will the embassy be close by?"

"Oh, very close," Faj-win-Getag said, and nodded his goodbyes, taking his venison and his entourage with him.

James Moeller didn't waste time. Over the next week he tripled his order of venison from the Nugentians and sent Dirk to the library to find out anything he could about Nidu and their culinary preferences. This led to James ordering rabbit, Kobe beef, imported haggis from Scotland, and, for the very first time in the three-generation history shop, stocking Spam. "It's not vatted meat," he said to Dirk. "Just meat in a can."

Within a week, James Moeller had transformed his butcher shop into a Nidu-friendly meat store. Indeed, the enlarged shipment of Nugentian venison arrived the very same day that James Moeller received his notice via certified mail that the building that housed Moeller Meats was being seized by the government under eminent domain, along with every other building on the block, to make way for the new and enlarged Nidu embassy. James Moeller's receipt of this letter was also neatly coincident to a massive heart attack that killed him so fast that he was dead before he hit the floor, letter still in his hand, venison still unbutchered in the cold room in the back.

Dr. Atkinson tried to assure Dirk that the shock of the letter in itself would not have been enough to kill his father. James's aorta, he explained, was like a cannoli solidly packed with lard, the end result of 53 years of uninterrupted meat consumption. Dr. Atkinson had warned James for years to eat a more balanced diet or at least to allow him to snake out his arteries with an injection of plaque 'bots, but James always refused; he felt fine, he liked his meat, and he wasn't going to sign off on any medical procedure that would give his insurance company the ammunition it needed to raise his rates. James had been a heart attack waiting to happen. If it wasn't now, it would have been soon. Very soon.

Dirk heard none of this. He knew who was responsible. He had found his father's body, had read the note, and had learned later that the day after the Nidu visited Moeller's Meats, a Nidu representative flew to the Nugentian preserve in Michigan to seal a direct venison distribution deal with the cult, using the information James Moeller innocently supplied in conversation. The Nidu ambassador knew when it came through the shop door that Moeller's Meats would be out of business in a matter of days, and he let Dirk's father give him free meat and information without so much of a hint of what was coming down the road.

It was just as well his dad had the heart attack when he did, Dirk thought to himself. Seeing his grandfather's shop torn down would have killed him otherwise.


Excerpted from The Android's Dream by John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Copyright © 2006 John Scalzi. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Android's Dream 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
BrettJamen More than 1 year ago
This was a good John Scalzi book. If you have read any of his other works, this would be lower on the pile. But much like pizza, even a bad Scalzi book is better than most others.
Aron Weiler More than 1 year ago
One of my favorite authors does it again. Android's Dream is fast paced and exciting, keeping me guessing with every page. Highly recommended!
williedixon13 More than 1 year ago
A mid-level Diplomat from Earth Harry Creek must avert an interstellar war by finding a specific breed of sheep. His opponents have destroyed all but one in the Common Confederation. With the added confusion of a made up religion that worships the Evolved Sheep there are plenty of twists to keep the reader anxious to read the next line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scalzi is one of my favorite sci-fi authors, and this book is one of my favorites. Funny, fast-paced, and full of intriguing characters, I couldn't put this book down. Anybody who likes John Scalzi's work should definitely reas this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has all the elements of great science fiction story. Well written characters, good plot, aliens, AIs, space ships, a few twists. Nothing ground-breaking, but I will definitely read it again. I especially liked the way the author portrayed aliens integrated into Earth's society.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the first book of Scalzu's i've ever read and I fell in love with it from the first sentance. The awkward characters and underground society theme made a fantasy world all the more relatable to. My only complaint is that it needed more character development. But I'm not dissapointed at all otherwise.
littleherb More than 1 year ago
I've just recently discovered John Scalzi's works. After reading the Old Man's War series, I was anxious to see his take on a different universe. In Android's Dream, he is just as imaginative and creative. He sets the table for a world in the near future with enough familiarity to be comforting but with enough futuristic sci-fi to be engaging and entertaining. This one is a real thought provoker on several fronts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. The story line keeps you guessing all the time. Just when you figured out who was behind things or how the story would end, things change and take a different unexpected route. The changes are logical and make sense. The Android's Dream is an easy read. It'll keep your intrest to the point that you won't want to put down the book. You'll finish it quickly and get great enjoyment from reading it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
After his time as a war hero in some OLD MAN¿S WAR, Harry Creek enjoys the anonymity of being a minor State Department employee who works with alien ambassadors assigned to Earth. However, a monstrous blunder has occurred when an earth diplomat kills a representative of the technologically superior Nidu race. They demand reparations or else they will turn earth into a wasteland for this affront.----------------- Harry is assigned to meet the Nidu demand of finding and delivering the Android's Dream, an electric-blue sheep needed for their coronation ceremony. The military on both sides wants the mission to fail so they can obtain an increase in funding at the cost of a few million or billion lives and be recognized as heroes. Department of Defense snipers and Nidu marines try to assassinate Harry, who has found one clue to the whereabouts of the blue Android¿s Dream. Pet store owner Robin Baker contains sheep DNA in her genes. Now all they have to do is escape earth, avoid space marines and the followers of the Church of the Evolved Lamb, and land on Nidu where he is unwanted and she is the guest of honor.------------------- With THE ANDROID¿S DREAM and the OLD MAN¿S WAR, John Scalzi is carving out a special niche in military science fiction arena as he lampoons those leaders who sit back in air conditioned safety taunting the enemy with bring it while others do their fighting. The military on both sides of the conflict and religious groups want to prevent Harry from succeeding because those in charge seek personal affirmation and glory. Adding to the fun of the tale is the ironic self jab at a twenty-first century sci fi author writing about sacred sheep that in the future has become the foundation for a religious movement. This is a great satire by an author to watch unless you are the Commander in Chief, a VP to busy to have served, or a Defense Department general officer and their civilian equivalent/superior.--------------- Harriet Klausner
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing 5 months ago
3.5 stars or a bit more. It was a fun read, a conspiracy theory, SF adventure with lots of tongue in cheek humor, coincidences & odd aliens. Scalzi has a lot of fun poking sticks at legal systems, religions & diplomacy. There is a lot of computer work in it, including some very interesting points about data collection & privacy that is quite obviously pointed at our current system. An interesting read, although I doubt I'll ever read it again. Half the fun was not knowing what would come next. Now that I do, I don't think it would be nearly as enjoyable.
SaintBrevity on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The book starts out with a diplomat attempting to cause an incident by farting during delicate negotiations; it's much funnier than you expect, and perhaps less puerile. The book merely gets better from there, and one gets the idea that John Scalzi giggled to himself approximately every twenty seconds while typing.A good book, all in all, with some issues here and there that aren't major enough to be worth detailing, but were enough to distract me while reading. Highly recommended.
BruderBane on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Although reminiscent of a number of Peter David novels from the past, ¿The Android¿s Dream¿ by John Scalzi is an entertaining and excellent sci-fi novel. Taking place at some point in the not too distant future Mr. Scalzi breathes life into a host of interesting characters with secret and not-so-secret pasts all the while poking fun at many of our current conventions. And although I felt the plot felt a bit rushed and mottled towards the end, I thoroughly enjoyed this one shot comedic adventure.
Friday74 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Really enjoyed this book - I was actually looking for "Old Man's War" as I had the free e-book from Tor and had read the first bit (I don't have an e-book reader, but reading them in PDF form works great for the first chapter or so to see if it's worth laying down cash on it - I still prefer the good old paper format) - I ran across this book right beside it and it sounded really intriguing. I wasn't disappointed - a number of familiar themes in there, but presented in a heck of an entertaining way. I found it well worth the money I spent.
felius on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Reading The Android's Dream is like reading the literary equivalent of the movie The Fifth Element. I'm not the first person to make the comparison, but that's because it's particularly apt.This is a fun ride - a blistering pace and laugh-out-loud funny at times (with many nods to geek culture), but the sci-fi elements are well looked after too.
seitherin on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The book was a hoot. I think this is my favorite Scalzi to date. It has politics, religion, war heroes, computer geeks, and genetically altered sheep. What more could you want from a book?
kaleissin on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I like this style better than what we were served in the "Old man's war"-series. The first chapter was rather boring but once past that, things really took off. His best yet.
grizzly.anderson on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I've recently come across Scalzi and enjoyed both his books and his blog, so I picked this one up expecting something different from his Old Man's War books. I wasn't disappointed.Any book that starts off with a character deliberately trying to derail international (stellar) trade negotiations by farting is obviously taking a different tack than the more serious and adventure driven OMW books. Scalzi is letting his wit run free with this one.The Android's Dream is a reference to Philip K Dick's novel, but not much more than that. Instead we're treated to a lot of dry wit, satire, and a little political intrigue in a story that moves along at a brisk pace. Along the way Scalzi takes a number of digs at Scientology as well.The plot relies on some surprises and probably won't stand up to careful analysis or multiple readings. It did keep me entertained for a couple of days and make me chuckle.
Shmuel510 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
There's a convoluted plot that depends upon an impressive amount of handwavium with regard to computer science and diplomacy; one of the characters gets a relevant law of kosher exactly backwards, which might be explained as demonstrating the character's cluelessness, but it doesn't come across as being intended that way; and I can't quite decide whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that I was thrown out of the book by the contortions employed to keep us from knowing the gender of one minor character. (Perhaps it's a good thing, in that it foregrounds the fact that it shouldn't matter. And yet... the lack of knowledge doesn't fit the point of view, and this tactic doesn't really fit the style of the book in general. I'm still going back and forth on this.)That said, it generally maintains a light tone, and it has its fun bits.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is essentially a shaggy dog story disguised as a Washington political thriller set in a space-opera universe, as Scalzi sends his protagonist, and the woman who is his charge, on a mad-cap scamper to keep one step ahead of the aliens who want to stage a coronation ceremony that it's pretty clear the gal will not likely survive. This is all delivered in the droll but bloody minded tone that Scalzi reserves for his satirical commentary, and just remember that the groan that escapes your mouth at the climax is a feature, not a bug. If I have a particular reason to mark down this book is that the woman who is at the center of Scalzi's comic inferno doesn't rise much above the status of McGuffin; I would have liked to have seen the story a bit more from her point of view.
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The Android's Dream is a humorous science fiction story about a man and a woman, along with aliens, sentient computer programs, made-up religions, various government agencies, a visit to a mall, a space cruise, and, of course, sheep. The first chapter is rather crude humor, but don't let that throw you; it is a hilarious and wonderful book.
d4ni on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Strangely enough, I picked this book up randomly at an airport before I had read the Old Man's War series. My decision was purely based upon the referential title and the jacket information, and I wasn't disappointed. The book is light-hearted, with a healthy dose of the satirical narration style that Scalzi is well known for. This is a solid, entertaining read for anyone who enjoys Scalzi's other books and is generally interested in sci-fi.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
Another great story from John Scalzi. He takes his unique brand of sci-fi adventure, adds in come fun characters and then mixes it together with a convoluted plot so full of twist and turns it would out do any roller coaster. Along the way the reader gets taken on a fun ride which has very little down time and really gets the imagination going!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had the first book I read from John Scalzi been "The Android's Dream" I probably would have only made it one third of the way through the book and given up, (assuming I even tried to read it). I'm a hard core, Asimov, Heinlein Science Fiction reader if I drift back to science fiction. I spent my youth in Science Fiction but lost interest with more modern day offerings. Having read Scalzi's trilogy "Old Man's War", "Lost Colony" and "Ghost Brigades" and having thoroughly enjoyed those, (enough to try his other offerings), I decided to hang in there. I was confident that there would be more action and surprises that would make up for the pain of the early chapters. Other authors fiddle with some satire, but it's a tough sell without the other elements of good science fiction. The Old Man's War trilogy is Heinlein like and I do recommend. For Heinlein and Asimov, I have read every novel they have written and much of their short stories, and they both, especially Heinlein have been known to come in from an unusual method. The Android's Dream ended up being worth the read once I got past the genetics and outlandish premises that set the stage. Overall a decent romp, but I hope the author stays more on track in general, in which case he may join the "every book written" class, a very small group indeed, especially as other successful writers seem content to sign their name as co-author to anything.