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Literature / Android at Arms

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Science-fiction adventure by Andre Norton. Andas Kastor regains self-awareness on a barren prison planet where he has been incarcerated by unknown entities for unknown reasons. A power failure frees him and several companions. When they compare notes, they discover that they were all involved in critical time-sensitive situations - in different years. They also discover that the prison planet includes highly advanced technology which appears to be for creating android duplicates of beings of various races, and speculate that they may have been kidnapped in order to be duplicated and replaced.

The ill-assorted comrades find a ship with navigation tapes for various planets, including Andas' home world of Inyanga. After a series of planet-hopping adventures, including some double-crosses and a few losses, Andas and his companions make it, only to find that the current ruler is... Andas Kastor, decades older and with three daughters. And then things really start to get wild....

Tropes associated with Android at Arms:

  • After the End: the Inyanga on the far side of the Cool Gate
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending: The Andas at the end of the novel is definitely the same one we've been following all along, but he's less certain than he used to be that he's the real Andas and the other is the duplicate.
  • Apparently Human Merfolk: Elys appears to be this, but turns out in the end to be Fish People. And a double-crossing Decoy Damsel besides.
  • Cat Folk: Yolyos comes from a species of feline aliens, the Salariki.
  • Feudal Future: Inyanga, Andas' homeworld, is ruled by a monarchy.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Andas and Yolyos, not even of the same species, become fast friends and finally Blood Brothers as a direct result of their harrowing adventures.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: It is given as an ironclad rule of space travel that no-one gets left behind on a strange planet, no matter if he's your worst enemy. This leads to the protagonist and some of his companions searching for an untrustworthy fellow traveller until they find his body.
  • Lizard Folk: This novel is part of a setting that includes a reptilian race called the Zacathans. No Zacathan characters appear, but when examining the facility in which they had been imprisoned, the protagonists find plans for building a duplicate of an unknown Zacathan.
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  • The Plague: Subverted. The "epidemic" which led to the planet being quarantined — and thus cut off from any possibility of further outside interference in an ongoing civil war — was actually due to one of the rebel leaders' poisoning of the water supply of the main mercenary outpost.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The android duplicates are made to be indistinguishable from their originals, even on very close examination.
  • Rip Van Winkle: The protagonist is one of several important political figures who were kidnapped, stored as Human Popsicles, and replaced with android duplicates. When a power failure leads to their release from storage, they compare notes to learn that they were all kidnapped in different years, and that several of them have been prisoners for decades.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Andas returns home to find that years have passed and there have been significant changes.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Or are they human after all?
  • Vain Sorceress: Kidaya, when she finally shows up
  • Victory-Guided Amnesia: The protagonist wins the day by calling forth a powerful force that acts through him — but since he wasn't in control at the time, he can't remember exactly what he did, or how.
  • Which Me?: The protagonists wake on a strange world and learn that they have been kidnapped and stored as Human Popsicles, while being replaced by android duplicates. The question eventually arises, which one is the Robot Me (a Ridiculously Human Robot by necessity) and which is the original, and how to prove it? When the main character, Andas, confronts a much older version of himself on his homeworld, both are deeply shaken — each believes he's real, but how could a Robot Me be such a Ridiculously Human Robot as to do the various things each has done? (The protagonist refers to his older counterpart as "the false Andas"). Another variation happens later, when he and one of his companions wind up in an Alternate Universe, and he confronts a dying version of himself.
  • A World Half Full: the Inyanga on the far side of the Cool Gate
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Andas and Yolyos accidentally end up in an Alternate Universe via a Cool Gate that Andas knew of by reputation; they had taken a chance of hiding out in its vicinity to avoid pursuit, since it rarely went into operation, and had bad luck. Andas knows, thanks to his studies with his late father, that nobody taken by the Cool Gate has ever returned.