“Which is to say, ladies and gentlemen, that from this very moment, the human race is thirty years from extinction.”
The Colonial Defense Forces ship, the Polk, has arrived at a point in space a few days ahead of a sensitive negotiation with a race of aliens known as the Utche. The plan was to scout the area for danger and to set the stage for a successful negotiation. When they run into unexpected difficulties it becomes necessary to resort to plan B. And what do you do when you have one shot at averting an all out war and your best team of negotiators is suddenly unavailable? Why you send in the next best team, of course. Or, failing that, the team closest to that area of space who can get there in the nick of time…
Starting today, John Scalzi returns to his popular Old Man’s War universe with his latest novel The Human Division. Echoing his actions a decade ago when he released the first novel, Old Man’s War, episodically online, each chapter, or episode, of The Human Division is being released on a weekly basis beginning today, Tuesday January 15th and continuing across the next thirteen weeks.
Each episode is DRM free and costs all of .99. 99 cents?!?!? The book in its entirety will be released by Tor Books in the Spring of 2013. But why wait? For less than the price of an Egg McMuffin you can be a part of what is going to be a HUGE ongoing thirteen week group read. And more importantly, you are getting good value for your money because the Old Man’s War stories are contemporary space opera at its very best: characters you will grow to love, galaxy spanning adventure and humanity up against impossible odds with the need to come together and use its collective wisdom, and not just weapons, to save the day.
My long-held desire to have a color e-reader became a necessity when I read of John Scalzi’s episode release plans and heard that the covers for each episode would feature work by one of my favorite SF cover illustrators, John Harris. Thanks to Tor Books I got an early release of the first episode, The B-Team, and promptly devoured it last week. In case you are interested, I also purchased the episode.
The plan as put forth by John Scalzi is to have each episode function independently as a short story with all of the episodes coming together to form an overall story arc. One need not be familiar with the previous novels to enjoy the episodes of The Human Division. From the standpoint of being an avid fan of the other stories in this series, I found The B-Team to be a rich experience because of the knowledge and expectations I had from spending time in the Old Man’s War universe. Looking at this first episode objectively, the episode does have a good story-shaped structure with a clearly defined beginning, middle and end and fans of entertaining short fiction will be right at home in this universe regardless of previous experience.
The B-Team features a second tier character from the earlier series who I like very much and was pleased to see that he will be a part of this novel. And right from the start he is entertaining. The story opens and wastes no time in shocking the reader and then proceeds to introduce a cast of characters in a fun but appropriately tension-filled manner. The story is very accessible for readers of all kinds, one need not be a science fiction aficionado to grasp the concepts. I won’t say much more than that other than to say this is going to be an adventurous ride.
Tor Books is hosting a weekly read along and I will be posting brief thoughts on each episode along the way, so please feel free to chime in if you are reading these episodes or just with general thoughts.
While this review was spoiler-free I am hoping that anyone reading this may want to talk about it in more detail so comments may include spoilers and I would ask if they do that you put the SPOILERS tag at the start of your comment.