Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book 8: The Alien

The Summary
Ax is beginning to settle in to life on an alien planet. The Animorphs have given him a place to live and even take him to movies and stuff! But they are getting annoyed--Ax won't tell them certain things for fear of breaking the Andalite's Prime Directive, a law known as Seerow's Kindness.

Since the destruction of the Kandrona, the Animorphs are beginning to see people freaking out in public as their Yeerks die inside their heads. But the Controllers are on top of this, killing the freed humans before they can say anything damaging. Ax is also stressing because he knows that it is his duty to avenge his brother, Elfangor, and kill Visser Three.

While hanging out with Marco, Ax messes with Marco's father's computer, thinking he has left open a game. Since the events of book five, Marco's dad has kept true to his word and gotten his job as a computer programmer back and bought a nice house and stopped sitting around all day in his underwear. It is later discovered that Ax created a whole new branch of computer science. Whoops. Marco's dad is freaking out, but Marco manages to convince him that Ax is a moron who just got lucky.

But Ax realizes he can use his accidental invention to call home and possibly get the Andalites to come pick him up. So, swearing Tobias to secrecy, the two fly to the observatory where Marco's dad works and Ax contacts the Andalite Homeworld. The Andalites are furious to learn that humans have morphing technology, and force Ax to take the blame for it because they do not with to tarnish Elfangor's name. He gets to speak with his father long enough for him to guilt trip him about not killing Visser Three yet before he is interrupted.

A Controller at the observatory saw Ax's code and figured out that it could have only been written by an Andalite. He has been waiting for Ax to show up. Luckily, he is alone, and he has a grudge against Visser Three, who let his girlfriend die of Kandrona starvation. He wants Ax to kill Visser Three, and he tells Ax when and where Visser Three will be feeding his Andalite body.

Ax goes to face Visser Three alone, and attacks him with a rattlesnake morph. Just as Ax is about to die, the other Animorphs show up to save him. They surround Visser Three, and just as Ax is about to strike, the Yeerk leaves his host body and hides in a stream. They meet Visser Three's host, Alloran-Semitur-Corrass, who asks for death. The Animorphs don't kill him. Instead they just leave.

Ax goes back to the observatory and calls home again. He tells the Andalites that Alloran says he loves his wife and kids and all that. He also says Earth is his home now and Seerow's Kindness is stupid so he'll be telling the humans everything now.

The Review
Adam: Yeah, finally some xenofiction!
Adam: I do love me some xenofiction
Ifi: That tail-blade is so wimpy. I always imagined it being huge.
Adam: Hey, hey, uncool man!
Adam: You do not make fun of the size of someone's tale blade like that!
Ifi: No way it's so disappointing. I'm sure all the lady Andalites laugh when they see it.
Adam: There there Ax. I am sure that there is the right female centaur alien thing out there for you somewhere.
Ifi: And you can pose dramatically against the lava backdrop together
Adam: Is that what that is? I thought they were radiation clouds.
Ifi: It's clouds at the top, but nearer to the bottom it looks like lava
Adam: Or Ax is just so awesome that he can generate spontaneous fireballs just by posing.
Ifi: Or we can go back to my LSD theory.
Adam: Ifi, I think you might have a problem.
Adam: I think you might have a reliance on theories about characters being on drugs.
Adam: Just know, we're all worried, and you can talk to me about these things, it is alright.

Ifi: This cover isn't bad, it's just not good.
Adam: I like it!
Adam: I just have a fondness for covers with aliens on the front.
Ifi: What the hell is the human model looking at?
Adam: They were dangling a shiny object in front of his nose.
Adam: And hey, we finally have official art for Ax!
Ifi: And it's blue on a bright orange backdrop
Adam: It is dramatic.
Adam: Oh, one other thing of note is that this is where they start using a metallic border for the title.
Adam: Because kids are attracted to shiny objects.
Ifi: My version is white
Adam: Huh
Adam: I guess there was a version without the metallic thing.
Adam: My whole life is a lie.
Adam: this is what I have
Ifi: Ohhh
Ifi: You must have second edition?
Adam: I guess so
Ifi: How did you feel about the sudden shinyness?
Adam: I think it works, honestly.
Adam: The previous transparent on white text was too subdued. You can't really do subdued if you are trying to attract small children.
Adam: …That came out completely wrong.
Ifi: Orange and blue is very subdued.
Adam: I said children, not 20-something (wo)men-children
Ifi: I have nothing more to say about this cover.
Adam: To the story then!

Ifi: So the book itself opens prior to the series, just before Elfangor's death
Ifi: It shows what was happening to Ax just before he smashed into the ocean
Adam: ie: Getting in everyone's way.
Ifi: He manages to insult a war-prince on the very first page

<Is that Earth?> I asked Elfangor. <I didn't realize there was so much water. Can you get Old Hoof and Tail to let me go down to the planet with you?>
<Aximili, shut up!> Elfangor said quickly. He looked slightly sick and cast a dubious glance at Captain Nerefir.
I guess I had been thought-speaking a little loudly. Elfangor was worried that War-Prince Nerefir might have overheard. But I was sure I hadn't been that loud. I mean, I really didn't think that—
<Old Hoof and Tail, eh?> Captain Nerefir said. <Is that what they call me?>

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: "Old Hoof and Tail" strikes me as the most generic nickname I have ever heard.
Adam: That's like me calling someone "Old Tooth and Earlobe" or something.
Ifi: Yeah I don't know was that supposed to be an alienized version of an earth insult or what?
Ifi: Old tooth and nail?
Ifi: I dunno
Adam: Oh, I get it. I guess.
Adam: Eh.
Ifi: Weak
Adam: Indeed.

Adam: So, fortunately for Ax, they are in the middle of a dogfight, so he doesn't get court-martialed or whatever.
Adam: Unfortunately for Ax, they all abandon him.
Ifi: Well they die so
Ifi: It’s not like malicious or anything
Ifi: It’s just a thing
Adam: So, was Ax the only single cadet on this entire ship?
Ifi: Recruitment was pretty low that year
Adam: It seems strange that he was the only one that they sent to the dome at the time.
Adam: Andalites seem the type to have a draft.
Ifi: Well maybe there were other cadets but Ax had to eat them
Ifi: To survive for weeks in the ocean
Adam: …Yeah okay.

He had killed Elfangor, and I had inherited a terrible burden. By Andalite custom, I would be required to avenge my brother's death.
Someday I would have to kill Visser Three.

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: So by Andalite custom, Ax is obligated to kill Visser Three.
Adam: Not to put any pressure on the guy though.
Ifi: Screw that!
Ifi: Dude has like eight hundred morphs it is virtually impossible to kill him Andalite culture sucks.
Adam: Because not a single Andalite ever thought of attaching a scope to one of their guns.
Ifi: There's no honor in not dying dramatically and horrifically
Adam: Yes, but it does push the plot along.

Ifi: So then... then what happens? A thing happens
Adam: Let's all go to the movies! Let's all go to the movies! Let's all go to the movies!
Adam: To get ourselves a treat!

"I did not understand the plot of that story," I said.
We were in the movie theater. I was "sitting." This involves bending your body and resting on the fat deposits halfway down the back of your body.
"That was a preview, Ax," Prince Jake said. "It's just to give you an idea what the whole movie will be like when it comes out."

----Book Eight, The Alien

Ifi: The Animorphs go to see a movie, generally believed by the fandom to be either First Contact or Insurrection
Adam: Let's find out!
Adam: This book was published in 1997
Adam: So it couldn't have been Insurrection.
Adam: Which came out in 1998
Ifi: Applegate could have seen commercials
Adam: A year ahead? This was pre-internet.
Ifi: Why are we arguing about this? This is the most pathetic conversation I have ever had.
Adam: It amuses me.

Adam: Oh, one thing worth talking about are the journal entries.
Ifi: They are quite nice

The first thing an Andalite may notice about humans is that they walk around on only two legs. It is very strange to see so many creatures balancing that way. But, despite this, they seldom fall over. - From the Earth Diary of Aximlli-Esgarrouth-Isthill

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: I love the journal entries.
Adam: There really ought to have been more of them.
Ifi: I do have to wonder, though. On what journal were these entries kept, and where was the journal kept?
Adam: Telepathic diary?
Adam: Or…the Animorphs just gave him a paper one?
Ifi: He lives outside
Ifi: It would get rained on
Adam: He can put it under a rock.
Ifi: Ok sure

Ifi: Rachel dresses Ax up like a frat boy
Adam: Yeah, I dunno.
Adam: According to this, she has never interacted with another human male except through fashion catalogs
Ifi: Yeah I dunno I never thought Rachel would go for the Hollister type
Adam: You learn something new every day.

Adam: Ax doesn't seem to care much for the movie.
Ifi: He has zero interest in it. He would much rather steal candy from small children.
Adam: He doesn't just steal candy from small children.
Adam: He eats candy off the floor.
Adam: That is absolutely disgusting.
Ifi: I like to think he has a superadvanced alien immune system
Ifi: Which is how he is still alive after drinking motor oil and such

I dropped to my knees and began to search. I crawled along the floor, looking for more. It was easier crawling then walking. At least when I crawled I had floor legs. Also, the humans had coated the floor with sticky substances, which made it easier not to slip.

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: Ew.
Ifi: So after being bodily dragged out by Marco and Jake, Ax finally calms down
Adam: I feel bad for that poor kid at the theater. Must be completely traumatized.
Ifi: Who in this series isn’t traumatized?
Adam: Good point.

Adam: So, Jake and the gang finally prevent Ax from freaking out, so then another random guy starts freaking out instead.
Ifi: It is national cause-a-scene-at-the-mall day!
Ifi: Random guy rips a Yeerk out of his own head
Adam: Jake logically assumes that the Yeerk forces will just sit back and let this continue.
Ifi: Instead, Ax sees one of the police kill the man using a mysterious cylinder
Ifi: None of the Animorphs have any idea that this is happening, and go on being happy and pleased that destroying the Kandrona has finally paid off
Ifi: Ax keeps all his worries to himself.
Adam: For…some reason
Adam: I get that he is not allowed to talk about the Andalites and their technology and whatnot. By why does he hold back basic information about how the Yeerks operate?
Ifi: He holds back information on everything, even pointless stuff
Adam: He absolutely does.
Adam: Yet he had no problem telling them about how the Kandrona worked in the past book.
Ifi: He spends much of his time in this book worrying about violating the law of Seerow's Kindness, which is basically the prime directive
Ifi: As a result, the others don't really trust him, which is awkward and strange
Adam: Can you elaborate on what you find strange about it?
Ifi: Well, it's not the writing, it's me reacting to the Animorphs not all trusting each other because I am more used to them being like a family because of my history with the series
Adam: Well, they need to start somewhere before they can get like that.
Ifi: I know but my nostalgia is confused

Adam: So, cut to Ax in the forest, taking care of his daily ritual mumbo jumbo.
Ifi: He hangs out with Tobias a lot
Ifi: They run around in the woods and do whatever
Adam: And he acquires a rattlesnake.
Adam: I'm sure that will never come up again.
Ifi: He also mentions that they watched MTV in Andalite school
Adam: Wut
Ifi: On behalf of my planet, I apologize

<In school, during Xenobiology, we had a section on humans,> I told Tobias. <It mostly involved human television programs. News shows. Entertainment. Music.>

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: Well, what with the time delay, this was likely footage of MTV back when it still played music.
Ifi: If it ever becomes known that there are aliens who have intercepted transmissions of the Jersey Shore, I will just die of embarrassment
Ifi: Now Ax is really set on learning lots of stuff about earth, so they decide to send him to school for a day.

"Hi, Marco, Rachel," Prince Jake said. "Meet my cousin...Phillip."
"Yes. I am Prince Jake's cousin, Philiip," I said. "I am from out of state."
Marco made a smile with his mouth. "You're from way, way out of state."

----Book Eight, The Alien

Ifi: Nobody really seems to notice there is a crazy person just wandering around the school
Ifi: Nor do any of the teachers or administration care that someone brought in their random cousin
Adam: Well, it's middle school. Everyone there is insane anyway.
Ifi: That's true. I can list at least three people from my middle school who were stranger than Ax
Adam: At mine, I was one of them.
Ifi: Anyway, the school thing ends early when one of Jake's teachers has a nervous breakdown caused by his Yeerk dying.
Ifi: This time, Jake sees Chapman kill the guy
Adam: Oops!
Adam: I bet Ax sure feels silly now.

"They're going to kill every host whose Yeerk dies, aren't they?" Prince Jake asked bitterly. "Every human-Controller whose Yeerk dies is going to be eliminated. That's true, isn't it?"

----Book Eight, The Alien

Ifi: I really want to know how they pulled this off
Adam: So, hundreds of random people will just drop off the face of the earth.
Adam: Oh well! I guess we can just move on with our lives.
Ifi: It is never really mentioned again
Adam: Exactly!
<Oh well!>

Ifi: So Jake gets really mad because Ax won't answer any questions properly or offer basic information
Ifi: He sends Marco to try to get stuff out of Ax
Ifi: Marco buys Ax an almanac
Adam: Nice of him.
Adam: Ax also ends up going to Marco's house for a visit.
Ifi: Oh yes
Ifi: As was mentioned earlier, Marco's dad has recently gotten his job back
Ifi: Marco's dad is an engineer
Adam: And he's designed a fun little game that Ax decides to try out.
Ifi: The game is called Fix The Mistakes
Ifi: So Ax fixes all the mistakes in the game

<I win,> I said to myself.

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: I'm sorry Ax, your princess is in another castle.
Ifi: The next day, everyone is freaking out because Ax accidentally invented a faster-than-light space telephone
Adam: Oops!
Ifi: So now Ax has a problem
Ifi: He has given the humans technology, which is a violation of the prime directive
Adam: So he has to go fix it.
Adam: Though this doesn't mean he can't take advantage of his little indiscretion, now can't he?
Adam: ohoho
Ifi: I really don't blame him
Adam: Okay, fair enough.
Ifi: But we also touch on that annoying humans-are-special thing
<You discovered radioactivity in 1896. In 1945 you exploded an atomic weapon. Forty- nine years. In 1903 you flew for the first time. Sixty-six years later, you landed on your moon.>
"You really did read the World Almanac, didn't you?" Cassie said with a smile. "You're saying we do things quickly?"
<I'm saying that if the Yeerks don't destroy you now, they know that fifty years from now, humans will be capable of faster-than-light travel. And a hundred years from now—who knows?>

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: Truly, we are gods among…er…aliens. Everyone, come bask in the glory that is mankind!
Adam: Well, that just goes without saying.

Adam: Cassie invites Ax over for dinner.
Adam: I honestly like this scene.
Adam: It is really cute.
Ifi: It was nice, but it didn't really contribute to the plot
Ifi: Though Cassie gets the closest to getting Ax to open up
Adam: It gives Ax an insight into human familial relations. And him and Cassie never really interact that much otherwise.
Adam: Also, Cassie's dad's chili sounds absolutely delicious.
Ifi: I do want some chili now
Adam: Let's make some chili!
Adam: It is good if you put a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder in.

Ifi: Ax and Tobias go to the observatory where Ax's telescope-phone-thing is
Adam: Ax ropes Tobias into this business of sneaking in to Marco's dad's workplace so he can fiddle with the electronics in such a way that will actually warp space and time.
Adam: So he can do the whole "ET phone home" business.
Ifi: And it actually works perfectly, which is odd. He gets through to whoever is in charge of the phone on the never-named Andalite world
Adam: You'd expect there to be a bit of static, or maybe a time delay at least.
Adam: I get that it is FTL communication, but it is still primitive, kiboshed together FTL communication.
Ifi: Nothing Ax builds ever doesn't work
Ifi: If I was stranded on an alien planet I'd be lucky if I could dig a hole to sleep in.
Adam: Ax was a explicitly a bad student, yet he can hack together a subspace ansible in his sleep, and he knows his star charts well enough to point out the direction of his homeworld at a random point in time on a foreign planet.
Adam: Whoever put the Andalite school system together deserves a friggin medal.
Ifi: He also steals cable
Ifi: Using only aluminum foil and some soda cans
Adam: I'm surprised he didn't use any coconuts.
Ifi: Anyway so he calls home and we get our first look at the Andalite military, which is comprised of 98% dickbags
Ifi: the other 2% are eaten or infested or trapped in horrible morphs
Adam: Actually, all of the Andalite nothlits and Controllers we meet fall into the first category.
Ifi: No way Alloran was a sweetie
Adam: Pre-the series?
Ifi: Well I guess being a Controller is pretty humbling
Adam: I would imagine so.

Ifi: So the Andalite command basically forces Ax to take the blame for giving the humans the morphing technology to save Elfangor's name
Adam: At least they have the courtesy to pardon him.
Ifi: They are still jerks and couldn't care less about any species that isn't their own
Ifi: Once they're done yelling at Ax for caring about humans, they put his dad on
Ifi: Who proceeds to guilt trip him for not killing Visser Three yet
Ifi: God what a lazy son
Adam: When I have kids, they better murder all my enemies before they are out of their diapers.
Adam: I mean, otherwise what is the point?
Ifi: And Ax is like, "Why did I even call home again?"
Ifi: "I just remembered my society sucks."
Adam: Those humans are so much better, anyway. Did you know that they invented the atom bomb only 49 years after discovering radioactivity?
Adam: Only such a species could have the ingenuity to put a hole in the lid of a cup.

Ifi: So that was pretty disappointing
Ifi: Some random dude shows up!
Ifi: He is a Controller and this whole thing was a clever trap!
Adam: A Controller, in a building containing giant space-monitoring equipment? Who could have guessed?
Ifi: Now this Controller is mad because Visser Three let his girlfriend(?) die of Kandrona starvation
Ifi: I dunno how the pronouns translate or whatever
Adam: As if we didn't inspire enough debates about Yeerk gender identity with the last review.
Adam: Er, second to last review.
Ifi: Yeah I don't know, this one made Yeerk relationships sound similar to humans'. But I mean, this is the first time it is ever mentioned, so it would make sense that the author would change her mind and try to make it more 'alien' later
Ifi: Yeerks and pronouns only begets confusion
Adam: I think the current general consensus is that Yeerks generally just go by the gender of their host.
Ifi: Yeah I guess so
Adam: So maybe if they spend to much time in one host, they get attached, and certain personality traits carry over?
Ifi: I have no idea. I thought I used to know but I don't and the more I think about it the more confused I get
Adam: Well, I mean, Applegate is married and has kids, so she probably wouldn't be able to write out a genderless race without sitting down and putting a lot of thought into it, and this is still early in the series.

Ifi: In any case, the Yeerk wants Ax to kill Visser Three, along with everyone else in this book apparently, so he gives Ax the location where Visser Three will be grazing tomorrow
Adam: That's rather convenient.
Adam: That's profoundly convenient.
Adam: If it had been any other Yeerk, then Ax would have been dead, instead of having the perfect opportunity to go do the thing he's been guilted into the whole book.
Ifi: So Ax is like, "Screw it, I'll just do it, my life sucks anyway."
Adam: Boohoohoo
Ifi: All the Animorphs yell at him once they realize he and Tobias did something but won't tell them what
Adam: So Ax finally breaks down and explains things.
Adam: wait
Adam: no
Ifi: Yeah no he just runs off again

Adam: So he turns into a snake and hides.
Ifi: And waits for Visser Three to come by and nom on the delicious grass with his feets
Adam: Foot-noms.
Ifi: So when Visser Three shows up, Ax is able to bite him. Visser Three doesn't really react because he doesn't realize snakes are poison because he doesn't know anything about earth and didn't Visser One bitch about this specific thing like three books ago?
Adam: That's enough of you and your consistency.
Adam: Also, you'd think he'd still try to avoid the animal with sharp fangs that is biting him, poisonous or not.
Ifi: He just sort of stares. Only when Ax runs off does he yell for his guards and basically order them to burn the forest down
Adam: But the cavalry comes to the rescue!
Adam: Huzzah!
Ifi: Because obviously Tobias was not going to let Ax face down Visser Three alone seriously Ax wtf were you thinking

<Rachel?> I asked wonderingly.
<No,> she said, in that human tone that means sarcasm. <It's Smokey the Bear. Finish morphing, you Andalite idiot. Then let's go kick some Yeerk butt.

----Book Eight, The Alien

Ifi: So I guess all is forgiven.
Adam: Ah, maybe Smokey was the bear that Rachel had met down at the mall!
Ifi: Oh and I love how the Hork-Bajir guards just run away when Ax tells them to.
Ifi: And so the Animorphs all surround Visser Three and...

<He's out! Visser Three! He's out. I saw him worming his way through the grass.>
It took several seconds for my brain to comprehend. I couldn't make sense of it. It was
impossible to believe.
<He left his body?> I asked. <Visser Three left his host?>
<He crawled right out of the Andalite head and slithered into the water,> Tobias confirmed. <There's a fast current. I can't see beneath the surface of the water that well. I can't see him!>
I looked down at the creature I thought of as Visser Three. But of course the real Visser was a gray slug, a Yeerk. This body was the body of an Andalite.
<Kill me,> the Andalite managed to gasp. <Kill me before he takes me over again. Please. Please kill me.>

----Book Eight, The Alien

Ifi: They like made a conscious effort to NOT save Alloran

Ifi: If I was there I'd have just picked him up and ran home with him over my head

Ifi: "Go on...without me..."
Ifi: "COME ON!"
Adam: Regardless of whether they were able to stomp Visser Three, it would have left him without an Andalite host, so they don't have to fight giant monsters every time they attack the Yeerk pool.
Ifi: "Save yourselves...there is no hope for me..."
Adam: He'd also be able to provide valuable counter intelligence about the Yeerks.
Adam: And you could have him tell the Andalite military to prioritize coming to earth!
Ifi: He could single-handedly win the war between his morphs/battle skills and his knowledge.
Adam: Yes! Yes he could!
Adam: Even if he's worn out and unwilling to fight, they still have so much to gain by saving him.
Ifi: Oh and also

<Fight them. They are stronger than you think. They have...they have infiltrated...they are on the home world...fight...>

----Book Eight, The Alien

Adam: Except that it isn't.
Adam: This is a plot thread that is mentioned exactly one more time.
Adam: And then never goes anywhere.
Ifi: Yeah, apparently Ax, Visser Three, and the entire universe forgets about it
Adam: Oh well.
Ifi: Well I am glad I am not the only one who was disappointed in this scene
Adam: You were not.
Ifi: Imagine how epic everything would get with Alloran on their side
Adam: Add it to your fanfiction.
Ifi: I will, damn it

Ifi: Okay and so that is basically the story
Ifi: There is like an epilogue thing where Ax explains how he eats and stuff
Adam: Through his hooves!
Ifi: Apparently this was like a big thing with the Animorphs
Adam: Yeah, I dunno.
Ifi: So now that they know this they can trust him
Adam: Oh, and he explains the whole prime directive thing.
Adam: But who cares about that, he can eat with his feet!
Adam: Oh, and he goes back and tells Alloran's wife that he still loves her.
Adam: That's nice, I guess.
Adam: Yeah, whatever.
Adam: You just don't get love, man.


  1. Aximili doesn’t need an advanced immune system. Generally for aliens I’d say the chances of pathogens from another planet affecting them are close enough to zero to be nonexistent (especially since most bacteria that are pathogenic to humans and transferred via eating attack the intestines, which andalites shouldn’t have), but that’s moot since 1) later on Aximili is able to accurately describe what a pathogen he carried from his home planet will do to his human friends without the andalites having any data on humans, suggesting a ridiculous level of similarity between different sentient species and 2) anything he picks up would presumably disappear when he demorphs.

    Actually, the whole bacterial symbiote thing raises a lot of questions about morphing. Most animals need bacterial symbiotes to live outside sterile bubbles. People retaining their own symbiotes when they morph back to their normal bodies, sure, I can get that (even though it was contradicted by Marco’s experience with the helmacrons), but you can’t acquire symbiotes from the DNA of their hosts. Their morphs would have to be sterile or stocked with inappropriate species symbiotic with their normal species, meaning Tobias should’ve died of some infection or other within days of being trapped. I’m operating on the assumption that the “you absorb animal DNA” thing is an oversimplification for andalite children and the cube takes a more complete template of the morph than that in some unrelated fashion.

    If Alloran wanted to die he should've tried morphing something small to concentrate the poison. We know he's got a bird or something from the andalite homeworld, everyone had to morph one for their morphing competency test. Maybe the venom prevents morphing, but I doubt it; the animorphs morph to escape other nerve-altering substances later.

    1. Ohh yeah... you're right! :-)

  2. I can't believe you guys didn't mention the actual reason for Seerow's Kindness! That was some crazy shit, and also really interesting. I like how the only mistake Andalites will admit to making is unleashing a plague of horrible parasites on the galaxy. In every other way they are perfect, donchaknow. Even when it involves blowing up an entire planet instead of trying to help.

    Andalites are dicks.

    This book was kind of a big one for little things that would be disproven in later books, like Hork-Bajir going to war every few years, or the whole weirdness with the Yeerk and his girlfriend, which doesn't make sense any way you slice it. But, whatever, long-running series. KA Applegate does such a good job of portraying Yeerk-love in all its disturbing glory in Visser that I don't care about tiny mistakes. If I concentrated too much on tiny mistakes I wouldn't be able to enjoy Animorphs as much anymore! And that would be so sad.

    This is a good book. Not the best in the series, but totally solid. The angst didn't even make you two go "AAANGSST" all sarcastically, so it must be a success.

  3. Oh, and I figure they didn't help Alloran (well, they could have killed him but at that point they were green enough to not want to) because they really didn't have enough time to get him back to, I don't know, Cassie's barn or whatever and get the poison out. He was dying too quickly. Whether he could morph out of it or not is a moot point; if he was too weak to raise his tail blade enough to slit his throat he was probably too weak to morph. Besides, once you're a Controller for that long it's often hard to function once the Yeerk is out. Chapman could barely stand up when he was momentarily freed in book 2 and he hadn't been a Controller nearly as long as Alloran had.

    Also, David B. Mattingly cannot draw Andalites. They're so stubby and lame when he draws them! Seriously, does that scream "Ruler of the Galaxy!" to you?

    You know who could draw Andalites? The guy who illustrated the Chronicles books. Seriously, look at the cover for The Andalite Chronicles. Now THAT is a fucking Andalite.

  4. Ahahahaha, oh man, the pictures you guys chose for this one were all perfect. That screencap (from the tv show?) is great. And I can't wait for this blog to culminate in Ifi's colossal, series-spanning fanfiction.

    I never did understand why they didn't try to rescue Alloran. I suppose being infested for so long might have made it difficult for him to remember how to use his own body, but... still... come to think of it, why didn't they go straight to the river and try to kill Visser Three? Morph dolphins and eat him or something? Or shit, Rachel's a bear, they're designed for fishing in rivers.

  5. @AAA Alloran morphing something small wouldn't have killed him with the poison! I think it's Jake who gets poisoned as a cockroach and survives by morphing back - it's not that he got bigger that saved him, but the fact that being poisoned is not a genetic trait.

    Still, he could have morphed something small and used the body to RUN AWAY before the Yeerks came to re-collect and re-infest him, I don't think there was anything stopping him from doing that.

  6. You're right, we didn't touch on Seerow's Kindness enough. e_e Our bad.

    tldr: Andalites are dicks, what else is new?

    Extrinsicality: Waaait, I thought it was that Jake was bigger that the poison stopped working. I think I remember him saying that he could still feel it in his systems (by magic) but it was so small it didn't bother him.

    PS: Sry about the slow comment posting. Adam is at comicon and I fail at checking for new comments.


  7. It's been a while since I've reread it, so I could be wrong! But it seems very odd that poison would remain in your system during morphing when literally nothing else would.

  8. Oooh, that is a good point. Now I'm wondering about eating in morph and stuff. If you were hungry, morphed a lizard, ate a bug, and morphed back to human, would you still be hungry?

    One of you smart people can figure it out, I have no idea.

    tess: As far as the AAAANGST thing goes, Ax did angst, but it all seemed far more legitimate than anything we'd seen so far. His culture literally demands that he kill a guy that is a mix between Adolph Hitler and the Terminator. Dude can angst all he wants. He's earned it.

    1. No, I don't think so. In one book, Rachel brings Tobias a McDonalds meal when he's actually in need of food, and he has her take one of the whole beef patties off the Big Mac to eat as a hawk, which satisfies his hunger. Then he morphs to human to enjoy the rest of the fast food in the Andalite style (manners and neatness of a two year old plus mouth orgasms). So the implication is that eating in a morph will not fill up your natural body, which you need to feed in your base morph. Also, enough food to fill up a smaller morph apparently does not affect your appetite in a larger morph. A single hamburger patty was sufficient to fill up a red-tail hawk, but he's hungry enough to devour the rest of the burger and meal once he morphs to human.

      Although, I have to wonder now how they ate the seal in the arctic book. Did they morph carnivores to rip into the carcass? I also seem to recall some of them not being hungry because they took advantage of their flea morphs while riding on their teammate.

    2. We know that the brain or the mind must stay constant in some way between morphs, so I'm guessing when they suck blood as fleas it gets rid of the psychological feeling of hunger, though they still have a physical need to eat in their main bodies. The human body can go quite a while without food, though.

  9. Well, in one of the books Marco gets bit by a rabid dog, morphs cockroach, and is totally fine afterwards. So I'd lean more towards the whole "it's not genetically coded into the morph, so it gets left out" thing. But I guess that could get interesting with say, cancers or some viruses. Would THEY get fixed by morphing or not?

    ANYWAYS, I'm loving this blog. Ticklin' all the sweet, sweet nostalgia spots xD

  10. RE: Disease and symbiont loss while morphing. If we're learning anything educational during this review of every _Animorphs_ book in order, it's that shapeshifting ought to be treated with the same delicacy (and arguable wankery) as time-travel. If you don't come up with a set of explicit rules for how it works, everything gets way too confusing. (Never mind what happens when they eat and then transform, how do they survive at all with a dozen different DNA sequences "stored" within... their cells I guess? Because isn't that essentially what viruses do?)

    You guys aren't even going to touch the TV series are you?

    By the way, I should note that updates to this website aren't showing up in my Blogger Dashboard for some reason. Don't know if there's anything you can do about that but it makes me sad.


  11. Being too affected by poison to lift his tail shouldn't affect morphing. The animorphs have morphed while paralysed, suffocating, dying of blood loss, and even unconscious before.

    Marco's thing with the helmacrons shows that things can remain inside somebody who has morphed. The rules seem fairly inconsistent, and let's not even start on the issue of eating in and out of morph. If the poison doesn't remain, he has a chance to try to escape, kill himself, or get trapped in a morph without appropriately sized ear canals. (He could've become huge and gone on rampage, even, forcing the yeerks to kill him or stun him and let him be trapped in morph.)

    Cancer is an interesting question, but then they tend to leave out the whole nurture part of everything. Human DNA does not give you even close to enough information to build a human. There's a whole set of common environmental factors in embryonic development, and cell structure details that propogate *through* DNA encoding without that being sufficient on its own, and let's not get started on whether mitochondrial DNA counts.

    But Marco's viral thing still makes no sense -- how does the morph mechanism distinguish normal body stuff from something 'bad' like a virus? We know they get their normal symbiotes back when they go human, or they'd be sick all the time and probably die very quickly. We know they don't default back to whatever they were like when they acquired the morphing technology, or morphing would reset people's age. So how does the mechanism know what 'counts' and what doesn't, since our symbiotes don't share our DNA?

  12. Getting awesome comments like these are a big part of the reason that I am enjoying doing this blog. I've always liked kind of deconstructing plot elements in fiction, and figuring out how they might actually work in practical terms, and it is great to see that I am not the only one who feels this way.

    As for the tv series. As of now, both of us don't have very much exposure to it (I didn't have cable as a child, so I never got to watch it when it was airing.) So first of all we have to get access to the series and watch through it. If we're able to find the series though, we likely will end up doing something with it though, most likely.

  13. The TV series NEVER HAPPENED.

  14. ^^ YES! I hope you do, because from all I have heard (I've never seen the series either) the show is essentially Snark Bait on the hoof.

  15. Well, what's wrong with human technology progressing faster? I thought the Worldwar books were pretty tedious - leave it to Turtledove to belabor a point - but the basic premise about how they were blindsided that the humans weren't medieval anymore was pretty cool.

    Also, I thought Ax got poor grades for attitude, not scholastic achievement? Could be wrong; it's been a while.

  16. The first episode or two aren't hard to find, but after that, good luck. You're not missing out on too much though, other than a few lawls (oh gods, the effects on that show!).

  17. The problem I have with human's progressing faster is that it just seems like authors do it for the sake of gratuitously patting ourselves on the back. It comes off as egotistical, basically a way of saying that "I'm better than you," or in this case, "My species is better than yours."

    Also, the whole idea that if humans were left to their own devices for a few more centuries, they would become unstoppable space warlords bent on conquering or destroying the universe just becomes a bit cliche after a while.

    Otherwise, it just seems more evenhanded to me if perhaps human technology would excel in one category, while an alien's tech might excel in another direction.

  18. What I find interesting about human progress is that it's so conflict-based. We advance a lot faster when the tech is military-based. It raises an interesting point that was touched on but not really explored throughout the series -- andalites aren't naturally warlike. They have a warrior culture, but a lot of the codes and war attitudes trained into them are fairly instinctive for us. (Our warriors need training too, of course, but a lot of that is refining natural instincts, training in battle specifics and overcoming natural hesitation, fear and pity that get in the way of instincts already there.) Yeerks aren't warlike either. They had a single, monolithic society that seems to have been peaceful before their interplanetary expansion, and even with all the fighting and civil revolution and jockeying for position among its members they somehow keep it completely intact.

    We're a species of warriors. We always have been. When there's a resource shortage, we start thinking about whether war is a viable solution. When we feel threatened, we start thinking about war. When we need something to rally behind, we invent a war or conflict, even against some abstract principle, cultural shift or god. When we're not fighting, we throw ridiculous amounts of money into military research in case we need to go to war. We wouldn't be desined to be an unstoppable race of warlords, but it's a perfectly logical concern for nonwarlike species to have upon encountering humans.

    I think authors tend to make humans the awesome tech guys due to a perpetual fascination with the rate of our own progress. Even without other technological species for comparison comparison it looks ridiculous.

  19. I suppose that would come from the fact humans are predatory, while both the andalite's and yeerk's ancestors would presumably have been prey species (though the proto-andalites at least had the advantage of a decent natural weapon.)

    So ancestral humans would always have been concerned with finding new prey, and they would have had to constantly find new ways to go about doing so. Primitive yeerks and andalites would be more concerned with avoiding predators, which I am guessing would leave less room for innovation.

  20. Good point. Our weaponry was developed to acquire resources and compete with other humans for resources which would be unnecessary for yeerks or humans. Humans are also scavengers by nature, a strategy that promotes innovation and competition more than grazing or photosynthesising. Andalites seem to be territorial, but they'd be less likely to be in direct competition for resources for survival than humans. Yeerks probably didn't do any fighting until they started taking hosts, and their society suggests a generally cooperative species-wide tribe sort of natural social system as opposed to human tribal inclinations (although they do identify themselves with their birth pool).

    In fact, the andalite tail and grazing strategy probably delayed their technological development quite a lot in comparison to ours. They don't need tools to eat, they don't need tools to defend themselves (although they definitely help), and their requirements for shelter and tools to assist carrying capacity are minimal (they don't need clothing, for instance). The Ellimist Chronicles suggest a tribal system for early andalites so there may have been some competition to drive technological development, but we know they're not warlike by nature so the evolutionary pressures that created our technological inclinations wouldn't be nearly so strong for them.

  21. I do have one quibble about which Star Trek movie Ax was watching. It had to have been Star Trek: Generations. For one thing, that was the most recent Star Trek movie out in that time frame. But more importantly, there was this part--

    "I quickly became bored by the plot of the movie. For one thing, there was one character who was clearly an Ongachic female. But in the movie this creature was called a "Klingon." It made no sense."

    --Neither First Contact nor Insurrection had Klingons in it, male OR female.

    1. Well, there was that Worf guy.

    2. ThoughtlessCogitationMarch 26, 2012 at 11:46 AM

      Gah, had this all typed out, then computer fail.

      Anyway, I always saw Ax's line as regarding Worf, since he says "there was _one_ character," not "there were some characters." Also it made it even funnier, mistaking Worf, a Klingon male, with a deep voice and everything, for a female of another species. Although Fridge Logic eventually kicked in, since Klingons are essentially Aliens With Funny Foreheads, and humans are supposed to be so far out of step with the average Andalite's experience.

      I was linked this a few days ago, and finally started reading it earlier today - I had to stifle laughter mercilessly quite a few times during my lecture. I am loving this, and have already told a few friends about it. Can't wait to read the rest of these, although I am not looking forward to the inevitable waits once I catch up to where you guys are up to.

      Also, Ifi? I am going to read the _hell_ out of your fanfic, once I get up to it in the posts.

  22. Axmili is the best pony.

  23. The sneaking a guy into school thing isn't actually that hard, if you look about the right age. Schools really care about keeping adults out, not other kids. When I changed high schools, I used to sneak back into my old one regularly to see my friends, and when I followed them to class all the teachers who even bothered asking who I was were easily pacified by the same excuse that I was whichever friend I was sitting next to's cousin and my school was on break so my family was visiting. After all, the worst thing that could be happening, in their eyes, as long as I wasn't visibly selling drugs, would be that I was a skipping class somewhere else, in which case my school would punish me, not them.