Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book 28: The Experiment

The Summary
For reasons known only to themselves, the Yeerks have taken over a meatpacking plant, so the Animorphs decide to go and check it out. After spending half of the book watching television and generally being incompetent, the Animorphs sneak into the slaughterhouse. As cows.

Ax narrowly avoids being turned into a hamburger, and the Animorphs break into the research lab, where the Yeerks are keeping humans in stasis. They check the computers and find out that Visser Three is making a formula that will eliminate free will in humans. The computer claims it has a 100% success rate, and is ready to be distributed to the world. Everyone is horrified, but Cassie is not so sure.

A Controller confirms Cassie's suspicions. The formula is a failure, but he's faked the results to stop Visser Three from killing him. The Animorphs depart in disgust.

The Review
Adam: Moo.
Adam: There is just a sort of blasé goofyness to this cover.
Adam: Cows are just inherently silly looking animals, I think.
Adam: Also
Adam: They used the wrong gender of bovine.
Ifi: Dah hah
Adam: He morphs a cow for about 30 seconds in this book, then realizes that he meant to acquire a bull, and switches.
Ifi: You'll notice there is actually not that much changing going on, on a cosmetic level.
Adam: Well, he loses a torso.
Adam: And, um
Adam: Yeah, that's mostly it
Ifi: See.
Ifi: Ax also feels that cows are vastly superior in the feet department.
Adam: Horses have fewer toes.
Adam: In my twisted logic, this makes them superior.
Adam: Also, what is with Cassie's expression on the inside cover?

Ifi: "Ok now kid pretend like your friend morphed a cow instead of a bull on accident. Point to him. Stare at a point three inches about his head. Great. Try to look like you're having fun."
Adam: "Also, go and poke the large animal with sharp horns."
Ifi: The thing is, I can see what the illustrator was trying to do here, but it just didn't work.
Adam: It just ended up remarkably silly looking.
Adam: Though that is pretty much how this book is.

Ifi: The plot is utterly idiotic, but some of Ax's best lines in the whole series are found in this book.
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: This book is also the official start of the whole Ax/Tobias bromance.
Adam: Right at the beginning, we have the term "shorm" introduced.
Adam: I went all d'awww.

They are my people now—the only people I have here, so far from home. I am grateful for their friendship. I respect them, too, which might be more important. But Tobias is the only one I might consider a true shorm.
A shorm is a deep friend, someone who knows everything there is to know about you. The word comes from the Andalite's tail blade, which looks something like what you may know as a scorpion's tail. A shorm is someone you would trust to put his tail blade against your throat.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: shorm is bff in Andalite
Ifi: Also Ax has built himself a house.

But now I have made my life a bit more comfortable. I have constructed a sort of scoop—what we Andalites consider to be a home. Like any scoop, it is mostly open, with only a small area covered by a semi spherical roof. And in my case the scoop had to be very small so that I could fold the roof down and erase all visual evidence of it.
I had only a few things in the scoop. A World Almanac that my friends had given me. A photograph of a delicious cinnamon bun. Some human clothing. And one other thing only recently acquired. One very important other thing that has changed my life.
A television.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: He has a photo
Adam: Of a cinnamon bun.
Adam: Ax, I love you.
Ifi: How did he even get such a thing, do you think?
Ifi: Do you think he tore it out of a magazine?
Adam: That's possible.
Ifi: Or he made someone actually photograph one for him?
Adam: I would not be surprised.

Tobias, too, enjoys TV. He comes every day to watch a show with me. It is called The Young and the Restless. It is very educational, though I remain confused as to the cause of so much restlessness.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Never change, Ax
Adam: Ax's interactions with human television are some of the best things in this series.

"Watching a soap, huh?" Marco said, nodding his head.
<Soap?> I was confused. <No. This show is about humans who are both young and restless.>
Marco sighed. "Whatever you call it, it basically reeks, you know. I think it's time I introduced you to some better programming, Ax. Buffy. Party of Five, maybe. Cops. South Park. Something, anything better than this. Although she is hot."
<Yes, she is hot. This is why she often wears less artificial skin.>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: I completely forgot that this show existed.

"I am ready," I said, making mouth sounds. "R-r-r-ready. Red. E. Red. E."
"How about putting on a shirt?" Marco asked.
"The men who are young and restless do not wear shirts. I am young. And I am occasionally restless."
"Yes, Marco?"
"Put on a shirt."

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: Aw
Adam: I would be amused by Ax running around with a trail of bishie-sparkles in his wake.

Ifi: Anyway, on their way to Cinnabon, Erek shows up with a new mission for them.
Adam: Erek has turned into the Animorph's police commissioner at this point.
Adam: So it turns on that the Yeerks are performing some sort of secret testing inside of a meatpacking plant.
Ifi: Gross.
Ifi: So the Animorphs need to go infiltrate it.
Ifi: Ax is sad because it means he can't spend the day sitting around watching TV

"Nothing but lame sitcom reruns this week," she said. "You're not missing anything."

<There are always These Messages,> I pointed out.

"These what?"

<The shorter shows that are displayed between longer shows. These Messages. They are often my favourites. "Zestfully clean! Zestfully clean! You're not fully clean unless you're Zestfully clean!" So much information condensed into so brief a format. So much emotional intensity.>
"You're starting to scare me, Ax."
In any case, Prince Jake had decided that we should act immediately to discover what, if anything, the Yeerks were doing at the animal testing laboratory and meatpacking plant.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Every time Ax speaks, I love him more and more 

Adam: Horrified.
Adam: But yes.

Ifi: The Animorphs wonder what the Yeerks could want with a bunch of cows.

"Poison the food supply?" Cassie suggested as she forced a medicine down the throat of a goose. "Kill a lot of people?"
<No,> I said. <lf the Yeerks wished to kill a lot of humans they could simply use their Dracon beams from orbit to ignite the atmosphere and incinerate all life on the planet.>
Everybody turned to stare at me.
"Well. There's a happy thought," Marco said with what I believe is a tone of voice called "sarcasm."

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: So…if they can do that, why can't they just threaten the earth's government with it, and order everyone to become a controller?
Ifi: idklol
Ifi: Anyway, they already control at least one McDonalds, if they wanted to poison good hosts, that would be the way to do it.
Adam: I don't think that the Yeerks could really make any modifications to the McDonald's menu that would make it worse than it already is

Adam: So, Cassie gets into an argument over the morality of animal testing.

"Animal testing labs are facilities where humans use species similar to our own to test the effects of drugs or whatever," Cassie said. "They have to see if something is safe for humans, so they see first if it's safe for animals."
<That sounds prudent—> I began to say. But Cassie was not finished.
"They are also about as close to hell as anything humans create," Cassie said.
"Uh-oh. Here we go." Marco groaned. "Quick! Everyone find a tree to hug."
Rachel saw the same thing. "Marco? Try: Shut up. Cassie? I love you, but this isn't about saving the lab rats. We have a mission here. So let's just go and get it over with."
"Rachel's right, we can debate animal testing some other day," Prince Jake said. "Let's just do this. In, out, and right back."
<After These Messages.>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: See, the problem with not testing things like makeup and shampoo on animals, is then you have to test it on humans.
Adam: So then you have people with their eyes burning out of their sockets, and all that fun stuff.
Ifi: I like it.
Adam: Why am I not surprised.

<And you know the Yeerks inside are going to be suspicious of any kind of animal,> Cassie added. <Even the ones they're testing.>
<And we do not know…> I paused for a long moment, the way I had seen Victor Newman do. Whenever he does this, the TV camera zooms in on his face. <…what kind of animals are being tested in there.>
Five bird-of-prey heads turned to look at me. They stared at me the way Marco and Erek had earlier.
<Ax? You okay?>
<Yes, but I must maintain silence till we go to These Messages.>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Okay there is a theory in the Animorphs fandom that Ax actually has some form of developmental delay.
Adam: He's just experiencing extreme culture shock.
Adam: It doesn't strike me as too unreasonable that an alien's psychology would on some levels just work in a fundamentally different ways than a human's.
Adam: So he reacts differently to things then what we would consider normal.
Adam: Otherwise, we'll be right back, after These Messages.

Adam: …And we're back.

<The truck's loaded with chimpanzees. There's no window between the cab and the back so I couldn't actually see them, but I heard the driver say he had the six chimps they called for.>
<Chimps?> Prince Jake frowned. <Why chimpanzees?>
<Chimpanzees would maybe be used for some kind of behavioral research,> Cassie said. <If it was medical they'd probably use rats or rhesus monkeys.>
<Perhaps the chimps will be transferred to the meatpacking plant?> I asked innocently.
<Oh, gee, let's hope not,> Prince Jake said.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: So this is how we're going to sneak inside, I guess.
Adam: Their approach is remarkably subtle.
Ifi: They break into the truck to acquire the DNA they need.

The driver behind us did not notice me, but he definitely noticed the others as they swung down into the truck. The driver was smiling, making a sort of pumping motion with his fist and yelling.
I believe what he yelled was, "Waaahhhh-hooh! Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!"
I am unclear as to the meaning. But I believe they were noises of approval. He cannot possibly have known our mission, of course, so I took it as a general approval of the notion of breaking into trucks. Or perhaps he merely enjoyed acrobatics.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: I've had enough of this monkey business.
Ifi: I am going to hold auditions for a replacement Adam
Adam: You'll never truly replace me.
Adam: I am inescapable.

My lower half was still mostly Andalite. Too large! Too heavy! I felt my hands weakening. My fingers were being pried open by the weight. I would fall onto the road. Humans would drive their cars over me. Possibly their trucks filled with "stuff" as well.
I was no longer concerned with the tile overhead. I was much more interested in the pavement below.
"Grab his tail!"
"I have a leg! He's morphing his leg! Ax, I…"
"EYAH! EYAH! EYAH! Ooog! Ooog!"
"Get him, get him, he's slipping!"
"He keeps morphing!"
"Hoo hoo hoo hoo hah ah HAH HAH HAH HAH!"
"Please make every effort not to drop me!" I cried.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Fuck the plot, I just want to quote all the awesome things Ax says

Adam: The moral of this book is that chimpanzees are absolute lunatics.
Ifi: Cassie and Ax maintain that the chimps are probably sentient
Adam: Speaking honestly, they probably are.
Adam: There have been several scientists who have considered reclassifying humans and chimps into the same genus.
Ifi: I mean I know they pass mirror tests
Ifi: So they're more complex than the Hork-Bajir.
Adam: They have a rudimentary language. They use tools. They engage in gang warfare. They can be taught the concept of money.
Adam: So on and so forth.
Adam: Ah, quote:

"The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens ('wise man'). In any case it's an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee."

----Terry Pratchett, The Science of Discworld II

I blinked my primate eyes and flexed my thick, powerful fingers. I felt…human. Like I was a four-foot-tall, almost two-hundred-pound, heavily muscled human.
And the mind? It was not exactly human, but it was similar. The same threads of curiosity, understanding, and emotion woven into a complex map. It was nothing like the single-minded hunger instinct of the shark, or the blind rush of sensory input that characterized the bat, for example.
Sentient? Self-aware? Able to hold abstract thoughts in its head? Impossible to be sure. In morphing we acquire instinct, but instinct is less important when intelligence is more developed.
This mind had very little in the way of instinct. And I sensed a great deal in the way of intelligence.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: So they feel bad about acquiring a potentially sapient species.
Ifi: Cassie would have objected to morphing the chimps, but by doing it, she was able to let the real chimps escape into the untamed wilds of California.
Ifi: Marco calls her out on it.
Adam: Way to go, Cassie!

Cassie said nothing and Marco laughed a thought-speak laugh. <You don't get it, Ax. See, Cassie's on her own private mission here. She wants to save the chimps. So her usual moralizing doesn't apply.>
It was a harsh thing to say. But Cassie made no answer.
<A silence fills the room,> Marco said sardonically. <Animal lovers. Typical. They care more about animals than they do about humans. If we were doing this for some other reason, we'd have Cassie giving us a bunch of crap about not using sentient creatures. But she's thinking she can maybe save some chimpanzees, so hey, if it's for the sake of animals—>
<Let it go, Marco, > Prince Jake interrupted.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Nobody is allowed to insult the boss' girlfriend
Adam: Now, here's the thing
Adam: Isn't that exactly what they're doing when they morph humans without permission on other missions?
Adam: I mean, they are doing it for the sake of saving the species.
Adam: Honestly, it seems perfectly justifiable to me. I just wish that Cassie would be consistent about it.

Ifi: Then Visser Three shows up, because apparently he has nothing better to do with his time
Adam: Which means, that they need a distraction.
Adam: So of course, they do so in the most pleasant and tactful manner possible.

<Poop him!> Marco yelled suddenly.
Marco swept his hand across the bottom of his dirty cage. He grabbed a handful of…well, of dung.
A swift, overhand throw. The…product…flew! It hit Visser Three full in his face.
Visser Three was covered within seconds. So were his human-Controller assistants. The four of them beat a hasty retreat through the doorway.
<Now that was fun!> Rachel said happily. Cassie was fully chimpanzee again. The tactic had succeeded brilliantly.
Then, from beyond the door, came the thought-speak sound of Visser Three's rage.
<Kill them all!>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Can we just go back to listening to Ax talk about TV shows and cookies?
Adam: I kinda have to side with Visser Three on this.
Ifi: Really guys what the hell did you expect
Adam: <Oh, well the apes seem to be throwing their feces at me. I guess I better give them some privacy, being the kind and tactful gentleman that I am.>
Ifi: The Animorphs manage to get away, but it involves a romp through the rest of the building.

How can I describe what we saw as we raced through room after room looking for an exit? Chimpanzees were not the only creatures being used for experimentation.
There were smaller monkeys. Rats. Dogs.
I soon saw why humans prefer to draw an arbitrary line between themselves and other animals. Had humans been used as these animals were used, the only appropriate descriptive word would have been torture.
Useful, no doubt. Medically justifiable, most likely. And it is not my business to judge humans. But this behaviour of theirs did trouble me.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: cue colors of the wind

Adam: Come! I have had enough of these technological monstrosities of ours!
Adam: Who needs indoor plumbing and functional medicine!
Ifi: Or pants!

Adam: Pants alone are justification for most things
Ifi: I will have none of it

Adam: So, a bunch of Taxxons are coming in to eat them, and they have enough time to escape, but Cassie convinces everyone to stay so that they can rescue the other chimps.
Ifi: I mean, it does end up working out for them because the other freed chimps cover their escape and make it easier for them to get away
Adam: So everyone manages to get away.
Adam: Ax angsts a bit more about how terrible we are to our wildlife, but then he decides that he has better things to do, and goes to watch some TV with Tobias.

<Oh, look! It is Friends>
<Just a rerun. Um, Ax?> Tobias cocked his sleek head at me. <How did you get so many channels? I could swear I saw MTV and CNN just now. But you don't have cable, so…>
I glanced up from the TV set. Phoebe was playing her guitar at Central Park. <I made improvements>
Tobias hopped close to the set and peeked behind it. <Oh, man. What is all this?>
<A primitive satellite receiver.>
<You made a satellite dish out of a broken radio, two old soda cans, and…what is this?> He held a piece of thick black wire in his beak.
<The wire that humans hang from limbless trees. Very convenient. I found it this evening before I fed.>
Tobias quickly dropped it. <Ah. That would explain the power outage in Jake's neighborhood.>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: 1) How did Ax get that powerline down without killing himself?
Adam: He can morph.
Ifi: 2) Soda cans?
Ifi: 2a) SODA CANS?
Adam: And the way that power lines are structured, you would only get a shock if you were to touch all of them at once.
Adam: That's why birds are able to sit on them
Ifi: When my mom was a kid, this boy she knew got killed by touching a power line
Adam: Gosh
Adam: I suppose the setup was different then
Adam: Poor guy.
Ifi: Yeah he was climbing a tree to get a ball or something. They probably changed it since then so that can't happen anymore.
Adam: Indeed

Ifi: Anyway, every throwaway downtime scene is eight hundred times better than anything to do with the actual plot, and this is no exception
Adam: Well, enough with the entertaining, it is time to go acquire some bovids.

<I believe they are called steer,> I interrupted. <Male cows are bulls unless they have been neutered, in which case they are steer. Steer are more docile. Although this herd comprises both steer and cows.>
Everyone except Tobias stared at me.
"Say what?"
<I saw it on the Animal Planet channel,> I explained. <But what is neutering?>
"We don't need to all morph cows," Cassie said. "The Gleet BioFilter doesn't eliminate organisms inside of other organisms."
"Do not say the word 'tapeworm,'" Rachel warned.
Cassie laughed. "No tapeworms. Flies. In the cow's nostrils. Maybe two of us morph cows. The others go as flies. In the nostrils."

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Jesus Whale, was that really the only thing you could think of?
Adam: Well, it is probably safer then if they were to all morph separate cows
Adam: Saving the world ain't always glamorous
Ifi: They go to acquire some cows in the middle of the night.

<Ax-man, guys are getting out of the truck!>
<I don't see any weapons,> Marco said tersely. <But...well...I do see beer bottles.>
<It's a bunch of college kids!>
I could hear loud, almost-hysterical giggles. And now I could see the humans, four of them, attempting to climb the fence into the field. One fell down in the mud. The others all laughed.
<They are faced,> Marco said. <What's this about? These aren't security guys. Not unless the Yeerks have gotten really laid-back.>
<What should I do?> I asked the others. <Is this an attack?>
<I don't think so,> Tobias said. <In fact, I think I know what they're up to. It's called cow-tipping.>
<Of course!> Marco said. <Cow-tipping. It's like a dumb fraternity thing.>
<Kindly explain this cow-tipping,> I asked.
<Well…well, basically you go out in a field and push a cow over.>
<I don't know,> Marco admitted. <But it generally involves being profoundly drunk.>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: This is a book aimed at fifth graders.
Ifi: I had no idea what a frat was until like tenth grade.
Adam: It is an excuse for guys in college to meet up and get drunk.
Adam: Which they do anyway, so they're kinda pointless.
Ifi: I like to think that they came wandering in from another book.
Adam: Seems like as good a theory as any

<Use your tail. Cut their heads off,> Rachel said disgustedly. <They'll be no loss. Besides, these jerks are driving.>
<Remove their heads?>
<She's kidding!> Tobias said.
I snapped my tail three times.
Shlump! Shlump! Shlump!
<What did you do?!> Marco cried.
<I hit them with the flat of my blade,> I explained. <I applied the necessary force to the sides of their heads. I believe they are unconscious>
<I believe they'll stay that way for a while, too,> Rachel said with a laugh. <Okay, Ax. Acquire some beef and let's haul.>
<Yes. I would like to make it home in time to watch The Brady Bunch. It is a story. About a lovely lady. Who was bringing up three very lovely girls.>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Toddlers and Andalites have been known to demonstrate brand loyalty.
Adam: Corporate America is going to have a field day when they reveal themselves to humanity.
Ifi: I would love a reality show about Andalites living on earth
Adam: The Young and the Mouthless

Human habitations tend to cluster in ever-tighter proximity. The tightest clusters are called cities. As one moves out from this tight center, wider spaces appear. These are suburbs. Beyond the suburbs the spaces grow, until soon open fields are more prevalent than dwellings.
According to Marco, this is known as "Gooberville" or "The Middle of Nowhere." The feedlot was at the vague border of the suburbs and Gooberville.
----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Axxxxxxxx
Ifi: I love you
Adam: We all do.
Ifi: You rank right between robots and the people who comment on my fic, in terms of love.
Adam: What about robots that comment on your fanfic?
Ifi: They would be right below cats then
Adam: Robotic cats?
Ifi: Above robot commenters, but below real cats.
Adam: I will ponder this for a moment.

Ifi: Have some idiocy.

<Um…Ax-man? I think you messed up. You're a cow.>
<No, I am a steer.>
<No, you're a cow. You have an udder. You acquired the wrong kind of cow!>
I demorphed. I acquired a steer. This time I checked. I morphed again. And now I learned Tobias had been correct. The steer's mind was not docile. Not passive. In fact... I was angry. And with very good reason: There was a bull nearby.
"They are," Cassie said in her sweet, soft, talking-to-dangerous-animals voice. "We kind of forgot something. We kind of forgot that you get to be a nice, docile steer by being neutered. But your DNA is still bull DNA."
----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: Are the behavioral differences caused by neutering something really this significant?
Ifi: Yes actually.
Ifi: It's crazy.
Adam: Huh. Hormones are a strange thing.
Ifi: One of my teachers grew up on a farm. She said when they neutered the goats, you could see the personality change in seconds.
Adam: ;_;
Adam: Poor goats.
Ifi: Cats, too. Unfixed male cats are impossible. See also: Fluffer McKitty

<What do we do? Don't they ever send bulls to the slaughterhouse?>
"Yeah. They do, so maybe if we get there we're okay. But how do we get past these guys in the truck? They'll call in to be sure they're supposed to carry bulls. They'll be mad because bulls are dangerous. They'll realize something is wrong. Ear tag or no ear tag."
<We've gone to too much trouble,> Prince Jake said bitterly. <I don't just want to give up.>
For a long moment no one moved, and no one said anything. Then Prince Jake said something that even I found frightening.
<Marco? Think you can drive their truck?>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: Oh no.
Adam: This can lead nowhere good.

I felt a sudden lurch. The truck moved. Backward. Then stopped. A second lurch. The engine roared but the truck did not move. The sound I heard suggested metal grinding on metal.
<Oh yeah,> Marco said. <Clutch. Forgot about that. I mean, who has a standard transmission nowadays?>
Prince Jake must have said something. Because then Marco said, <Hey, no one is going to die on the way there. I'll get us all there. Everyone will still be available to die when we get there.>
<That's comforting,> Tobias grumbled.
More loud grinding. Suddenly we were propelled forward. All the steer staggered. We lurched and rolled across the field and Marco said, <Hah! See? No problemo.&;gt
<Let's see how you do out on the road,> Tobias said.
I heard a loud crunching sound. <What was that?> I asked.
<Fence,> Marco said.
A few seconds later, a very similar sound.
<More fence, okay?> Marco said. <Everyone just shut up, I have it under control.>
----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Mommy would be proud.

Marco hit the brakes and the truck came slithering and fishtailing to a stop at the gate of the meatpacking plant.
Now that the cargo had been reshuffled, I had a better, clearer view out the left side of the truck. I could see two armed guards approaching the cab. They seemed somewhat disturbed. Possibly awed. Possibly admiring. Possibly frightened.
It is sometimes hard to decipher human facial expressions.
"What are you, crazy?" one guard shouted.
"Bad shocks, man," Marco said in a low, guttural, muddy voice. I was startled to hear him make mouth sounds. He must have partially demorphed to human. Just human enough to pass.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: That
Adam: Was terrifying

<I think I see a ramp up there. That must be where we go,> he said. Then, in obvious reply to Prince Jake, <Sure, I can back up to the ramp. Why wouldn't I be able to back up?>
<Oh, man, this is going to be ugly,> Rachel said, speaking from Tobias's nostril.
The truck jerked forward, stopped. Jerked forward again. Stopped. Grind! Lurched into reverse. Stopped. Grind! Lurched. Stopped. Forward. Lurch. Backward. Stop. Grind! Lurch. Forward. Stop.
<I've heard of a three-point turn,> Cassie said. <I guess this would be the thirty-point turn.>
Lurch. Backward. WHAM!
Every steer lurched backward with the impact.
<All right, we're there,> Marco announced.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Now, Jake says that Marco gets to drive because he has experience.
Ifi: Shouldn't that experience automatically disqualify him?
Ifi: I mean, I think we all remember "DO YOU JUST HATE TRASH CANS?"
Adam: I think that nobody else wants to take responsibility for crashing into a bus full of nuns or something

With a startlingly loud noise, the back gate of the truck swung open. The large man and a very thin man were conferring.
"I have never seen driving like that! No wonder the driver took off. He must have been drunk. He must be a lunatic!"
"Hey! Those are bulls!"
"Well, I'll be a…transported like this? This really is nuts!"
The skinny man narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Andalite bandits?"
The large man laughed. "I think an Andalite could figure out how to drive a truck. Besides, even an Andalite isn't stupid enough to morph a steer or even a bull and walk into a slaughterhouse. They'd have to be idiots."
<Could not have said it better myself,> Marco muttered.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Even the book admits that the plot is stupid.
Adam: Yes, but it is too far gone now to do anything about it.
Ifi: Oh, hey, are you in the mood for some trauma?
Adam: Always.

I looked up. I could not see directly in front of me because other cattle were blocking my view. But as the chute turned a corner I saw a horrific vision: dozens of cows hanging by their rear legs. They seemed almost to be flying. Flying as they were carried along by an overhead conveyor belt.
Flying and no longer alive.
The lead steer came up to a place where pneumatic forces pushed the sides of the chute in, locking the animal in place.
A man, acting with practiced ease, whipped shackles around the back legs. A second man held a large tool against the head of the steer. The tool had a cylinder on top. He squeezed a trigger.
The tool jerked. The steer fell. In its forehead was a hole.
Instantly it was jerked into the air by its legs.
I counted two more steer between me and the killing gun.
I have faced death in battle. But never as a dumb beast going to slaughter.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: Bada bah bah bahhhh
Adam: I'm lovin it.

Another steer died.
I refused to move forward.
Zzzzaaapppp! Zzzzaaapppp!
The man with the stick rammed it twice. Once in my rump. Then low, under my belly.
The pain!
<Ax!> Tobias cried.
I staggered. But I staggered…forward!
My head was clearing slowly.
The sides of the chute pressed in, holding me tight, immobile.
Morph! Morph! Morph!
<Ax!> Tobias cried. <Ax! AX!>
My eyes watered. My head was swimming. I was confused, lost, dazed. I looked to my right. The tool was coming for me. Coming straight toward me. I could see the man's finger on the trigger.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: This was honestly one of the most horrifying parts of the book for me.
Adam: This is Animorphs. It is obligatory.
Ifi: Luckily, Rachel saves him, but it is a very, very close call.
Ifi: Then it is battle time!

<Watch out, that guy has a chainsaw!> Tobias yelled.
A human-Controller rushed at me with a long, powered saw. The saw screamed.
Now the human-Controller screamed.
<He no longer has a chainsaw,> I said.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: I
Ifi: wha
Ifi: we
Ifi: have
Ifi: dracon
Ifi: beams
Adam: People in slaughterhouses commonly use chain saws.
Adam: You need them for cutting through cuts of meat that size.
Ifi: Seriously? The same sort of chainsaw you'd use to cut down a tree or whatever it is you use a chainsaw for?
Adam: Oftentimes, yes.
Ifi: That is disgusting.

Ifi: Then guess what happens next.
Ifi: Visser Three shows up!
Ifi: Why the hell was he here today?
Adam: We've established this. He's either playing with his cats, or chasing around andalite bandits.
Ifi: Anyway, he has them against a door that Rachel cannot break down with her face and there are like eight hundred Hork-Bajir trying to kill them

<Hey! There's a keypad!> Rachel yelled.
I turned one stalk eye. There was a keypad. Not a Yeerk design, certainly. Too primitive. But then many of the people working at the facility were not Yeerks.
<Ax!> Jake yelled.
<I will try,> I said. I backed away from the battle, yielding my place to Rachel.
I snapped my tail. My blade shattered the cover of the keypad. I reached in and twisted two wires together.
The door opened.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: Fuck it, Ax is a wizard.
Adam: Well, I mean, obviously everyone understands all technology more primitive then the society that they originate from.
Adam: This is why I am able to build a system of aqueducts from scratch.
Ifi: What do you do with them?
Adam: Run…water through them?
Ifi: Not vodka?
Adam: I'm more of an ice cream float kinda guy.

Ifi: So we finally finally FINALLY find out what this nonsense is all about
Ifi: Only then did we look at the room we had entered.

It was, in most respects, identical to the room at the animal testing laboratory where the chimpanzees had been caged. Rows of cages. Left and right. A concrete floor and white tile walls. Bright lights.
But there was one very significant difference. Where there had been chimpanzees, there were now humans.
Two dozen humans occupied the cages.
They did not move. They did not turn to look at us.
<Are they dead?> Rachel asked.
I said, <No. Bio-stasis, I believe. They can be released from bio-stasis and function normally.>

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: This book just got heavy on the disturbing imagery.
Adam: This has suddenly turned into a Shadowrun campaign.

"Project Obedience is designed to us genetically engineered biological components to erase those portions of the human brain responsible for free will."
<Say what?> Marco said.
"Project Obedience has successfully tested Formula Seventy-one on chimpanzees, an Earth species related to humans. One hundred percent success has been achieved, thanks to the genius of Visser Three!"
<How exactly do you program a computer to kiss butt like that?> Tobias wondered. He was resting wearily atop one of the cages.
"And human testing has now shown Formula Seventy-one to be one hundred percent effective on humans as well! Phase Three is now ready: The widespread dissemination of Formula Seventy-one through the human food supply, followed by the rapid conquest of planet Earth!"

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: The other Animorphs are disturbed by the implications of this, but Cassie is unimpressed.
Adam: Well, you have an experimental drug with an 100% success rate.
Adam: Certainly nothing suspicious here.
Ifi: Cassie claims that eliminating free will would be impossible, and that the computer must be lying. Everyone else thinks she's being idealistic.
Adam: Excuse me, but I gotta call BS on her explanation.
Adam: We already have drugs that inhibit free will.
Adam: Heck, there are techniques that can modify it that don't even require drugs.
Adam: That's how cults work.
Ifi: Oatmeal.
Adam: Indeed!
Ifi: I'm not totally sold on the idea that humans have free will at all.
Adam: Indeed.
Adam: Our brains function through a series of electro-chemical impulses.
Adam: If you fiddle with those, you alter how the person interacts with the world.
Adam: If you understand neurology well enough, it really does not seem that much of a stretch for you to be able to engineer a drug that can render a person totally subservient.
Ifi: Well, some dude comes out to confirm Cassie's theory.

He began to cry. He collapsed into the chair before the computer console, placed his face in the palms of his hands, and made sounds of crying.
"He'll kill me! Of course, he was going to kill me, anyway. It was only a matter of time."
<"He" being Visser Three, I assume?> I said.
"Of course Visser Three," the man said bitterly. "Who else? This whole project is his idea."
<But it worked. So why would he kill you?> Rachel asked.
The man raised his head and rolled his eyes. "It didn't work. I faked the results. We all did. We had no choice! Visser Three kept demanding results, results, results! So we gave him results. Lies! Just a bunch of lies!"
----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Adam: I mean, I can completely understand that a potential drug simply wouldn't work, and that someone would fake the results.
Adam: Plus there are plenty of hints around the facility that hint that the project was a failure.
Ifi: But there’s no need to bring all that wishy-washy stuff about humans being special.
Adam: Exactly!
Adam: The excuses that they give make no sense, and they weren't necessary to begin with for the plot to continue.
Ifi: The idea that some Controllers would be forced into faking a project's success because Visser Three is completely unreasonable is actually really interesting and completely believable.
Ifi: But it got tangled up in all the stupidity.
Adam: Tragic.

Ifi: Also the humans in stasis are all hobos
Ifi: Which apparently makes it okay
Adam: Well, everybody knows that hobos don't have souls.

Adam: So, everybody complains about what a big waste of time this was, and they all go home.

In the annals of stupid, screwed-up, pointless missions that was the stupidest, most pointless of them all," Marco said.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: I disagree.
Ifi: Zone 91 was worse.
Adam: I thought everyone agreed to forget that ever happened.
Ifi: Fine by me.

Adam: So, after all that horror of nearly being made into roast beef, what better way to relax then with a nice juicy burger?

"Oh! I can't believe this. A burger?" Cassie said. "After Ax was nearly carved up? After being in that slaughterhouse?"
Marco opened his mouth wide and took a very large bite. He chewed as we all watched. The burger appeared to be juicy, with a great deal of tasty grease.
Rachel tapped her fingers on the table and stared at Marco with an indecipherable expression. Prince Jake also stared.
"Be right back," Rachel said and stood up.
"Get me one, too," Prince Jake said. "Extra pickles."
"Mmmfff!" I said, unable to make proper mouth sounds because of the large wad of unchewed cinnamon bun.
"I think that makes three," Prince Jake said.

----Book Twenty-Eight, The Experiment

Ifi: I am not going to be able to eat meat for weeks, and you guys order a bunch of hamburgers?
Ifi: The war has turned them into complete sociopaths.

Adam: Look at this and tell me that you do not want it.
Adam: It calls you with its magical siren song.
Ifi: I do not currently have money for food so I am just going to put it out of my head.
Adam: People: Send us your money so that we may feast on delicious meat products.
Ifi: Yes. If I have to eat the hopes and dreams of children one more night in a row, I will go completely insane.


  1. I listened to that damn intermission theme the whole time.

    1. ...I was wondering if anyone actually would.

    2. It's strange that I feel bad for not.

    3. The Young and the Restless is real?! Wow. I always thought it was a thinly veiled version of The Bold and the Beautiful.

    4. Nope. The Bold and the Beautiful is basically a ripoff of it, as a matter of fact.

    5. I thought I was the only one who wouldn't keep reading the review until the intermission was over! I even paused it when I got up to get some water.

  2. This book is still deliciously stupid after all those years.XD A whole book of wacky shenanigans with a kinda-broken Aesop at the end ("Yeah, animal slaughter is horrible, but who cares, hamburgers are awesome!").

    Fun fact: in the Italian translation of this book, the title "The Young and the Restless" was translated literally, even if the Italian title of the soap opera is completely different (it can be re-translated in English as "Love Fever"); so, when I read it for the first time, I thought Ax was watching some kind of Dawson's Creek-like completely made up tv show.

  3. This may be one of my favorite books of the series, simply because Ax narrates it. It makes up for the stupid plot.

    I think Ax is just a very silly Andalite, but he's got that srs bsns attitude from training and indoctrination, and he shifts between those two constantly. And when he narrates, those two, along with the culture shock and curiosity, come together to make that hilarious Ax-ese. ("Please make every effort not to drop me!")

    I like the fact that Ax wants a burger too, even though he was the one about to get turned into one. And he was descibing the meatpacking plant. THE HORROR, THE HORROR!

    You know, I hadn't realized how stupid this plot was until I read the review, because I was basking in the wonderful Ax narration. Thank you for enlightening me. XD

  4. Animorphs always makes me want food. It's like a Song of Ice & Fire, if they ate real food in those books. The Animorphs eat a lot of what I eat, so I always get hungry reading them. I wanted a burger so bad by the end.

    Also, I had never seen that music video from Pocahontas, or really listened to that asinine song. That should totally be Cassie’s theme song, because, just like her moral code as expressed in the books, it is all about assuming one’s own moral superiority based on one’s own set of arbitrary value judgments (often while criticizing others for doing the exact same thing). Pocahontas criticizes the normal guy’s skill set and perspective, but it is based on nothing more that her own preference for her particular perceptions and anthropomorphizing of her environment. She even admits in the beginning that he has a wider experience of cultural diversity to draw upon and draw comparisons (and she’s right if that’s John Smith – North America was like, the fourth continent he had visited in his life), but she arbitrarily prefers her own narrow, parochial views, and so she ridicules him for not sharing her perspective. Pocahontas is like someone who meets an alien who has flown to Earth on his alien-culture-developed spaceship and says “Well, you have not accepted Jesus as your personal savior, so could you possibly know about anything?”

    Cassie is only right, ever, because KAA dictates that things go well for her, and her being right and all smug in this book is based entirely on semantics. Fine, don’t call it free will, but the very existence of Yeerks proves that free will CAN be beaten! As long as people can be drugged into doing what they are told, for all intents and purposes, Visser Three’s project IS possible, even if deep under the chemical fog is a person saying, “no, I don’t want to.” The fact that his scientist falls into the same semantic perception range as Cassie does not change the facts that all that is “impossible” about this project is the system of definitions.

    You know, I really had not planned to rant about this book, because it was funny and light-hearted. I blame whoever put that video in there.

  5. I laughed so much when I read this book, I didn't care about how riduculous the plot was!
    Of all the fillers in the series, this was one of the most enjoyable, to me!

    Also, I'm pretty sure electrical wires only shock you if you're connected to the ground somehow.. The kid died, because he was also touching the tree when he touched the wire.

  6. Um, I never read this one, and...

    ...well, wasn't Marco using thoughtspeak in the scenes in the truck? Was... was Marco driving the truck in morph?

    Was Marco driving the truck in COW morph?

    Because if so, this needs to happen in Ifi's fanfic.

    1. He was in gorilla morph, just to clarify.

    2. I am disappointed. Still, for all the $#!^ Marco gets about his driving, he must be pretty good at it if he manages to drive in gorilla morph without killing all of them.

      The fanfic suggestion stands.

  7. Robotic cats that leave comments?

  8. Hey, you've forced me to try to figure out how to build a robot to comment here.

  9. The intermission theme is what andalites listen to on thier ipods. It's like top-chart stuff to them.

  10. "Well, everyone knows that hobos don't have souls."

    I don't care if I'm going to hell, I freaking lost it.

    And I found the actual slaughter part of the slaughterhouse to be the most humane, actually. Killing them quickly instead of slow death by botox, or whatever. It's a real shame that the lead makes their brains unfit for consumption, though. Apparently, brains are really creamy, so I'm guessing they'd taste maybe like liverwurst.

    I say this because I'm from European descent, not a zombie.

    1. It's actually against the law to sell cow brains or spinal tissue for consumption in the United States. There's a fear that people could get mad cow disease from eating it so it was banned.

  11. Marco is a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Fan.
    My love for him just MULTIPLIED BY 6 TRILLION MILLIONS!!

  12. Pretty sure the "shorm" thing was brought up in book 8, back when Ax was angsting over "can I be friends with the humans??? no because Seerow's Kindness!"

  13. This was definitely not the first book to introduce the shorm term.