Cosmic Canines

Blonde Bombshell, by Tom Holt – While Falling Sideways was about a planet of super-intelligent frogs and how they interacted with mankind, this book does the same with a planet of super-intelligent dogs. They also keep humans as pets, which I suppose is to be expected. The dogs, known as the Ostar, are poised to destroy the Earth with an artificially intelligent bomb. The given reason is that the music from Earth is too distracting, but it turns out there’s a lot more to it than that. What’s particularly interesting here is that the bomb creates a probe in human form to gather information on Earth, and not only does it start taking on human characteristics, but it learns that an earlier probe had done the same. Without giving too much away, this has to do with the meaning of the title, which is really quite clever. Also involved is a former scientist whose dog was abducted by aliens, or at least that’s what he thinks. Also involved are another probe in unicorn form, a strange bank heist, two Ostar who through a far-fetched set of circumstances come to take the forms of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, and a description of the computing power of octopuses. While it took me a little while to warm up to this one, I appreciated its mixture of bizarre humor with musings on what it is to be human. I guess a lot of comedy and science fiction touch on such themes, so it’s not surprising that a combination of the two would have a fair amount of it.

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