Tag Archives: the human division

Goodreads | Peter Anargirou’s 2013 Year in Books

Goodreads | 2013 Year in Books.

I read 32 books last year according to Goodreads. Boy, a lot of it was crap.

Six books were for teens – Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, the last two novels of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, and a novelization from Surviving High School (the iOS visual novel I play a lot) by M. Doty, How to Be a Star.

Thirteen were actually episodic releases of John Scalzi’s The Human Division. It was later released as one novel.

Four were short stories (and most weren’t great) – The Time Traveler’s Wife, Skinny Bitch, Dead(ish), and I Will Be Your Dominatrix.

Two were based on World of Warcraft – Vol’jin: Shadows of the Horde and Stormrage.

The other eight were more substantial – The Ocean at the End of the Lane, John Dies at the End, This Book Is Full of Spiders, The Time Machine and the Invisible Man, The Metamorphosis and Other Stories, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

I’d talk about which ones I liked, but honestly, I really enjoyed a lot of them. It was nice to see John Scalzi return to his Old Man’s War universe with the Human Division, and I really liked the episodic release. John Dies at the End and its sequel, This Books Is Full of Spiders were both fun. I really loved Kafka’s stories, as weird as they were. And what can I say? I’m a sucker for teenager dystopian novels.

The Human Division final thoughts

John Scalzi asked for feedback on the serialized run of The Human Division. As long as I was providing it on his site, I’ll post it here as well. It serves as a good final review of The Human Division.

John,

I consider The Human Division a huge success. I want to collect your novels, and the novels in the Old Man’s War series in particular, so I definitely thought about whether I wanted to buy a physical release. However, there was no way I could pass up purchasing the episodes. Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week. I couldn’t wait to download my new episode and give it a read. Every Tuesday I would eat lunch alone so I could sit while reading or walk around the block while reading.

The episode lengths were perfect. I enjoyed being able to read each episode during a lunch break. The first and final episodes worked well as double-length episodes. If you choose to continue with a similar format in the future, I’d be fine with the occasional longer episode, but I’m also just fine with the current length. I don’t care about the quantity of words; I care about the quality. If a particular episode is shorter than normal, that’s fine too.

The pacing of The Human Division was excellent, and the order of the episodes worked well. We didn’t stay far away from the central story very long, and the auxiliary episodes were always interesting and related. I particularly liked seeing settings with which I was familiar but hadn’t seen – Earth, Phoenix, and the Conclave. I’d love to see more of all three. I also enjoyed seeing the points of view of different characters.

Walk the Plank was the perfect second episode. After the long introduction episode, Walk the Plank set the expectations. It showed that not every episode would be about the same characters and that some episodes might not even seem related at the time. It also made a point that episode length could vary as well. Walk the Plank always stood out as particularly odd to me. How was it related to the story? In the final episode you bring us back to the Eerie Morningstar. Not only does this give Walk the Plank context, but it also reminds us that we do in fact know a little about the Colonial Union’s enemy.

After finishing Earth Below, Sky Above, it was evident that you were at least hoping to continue. I’m very pleased to learn that you already have something planned. You might not have answered all my questions, but this is just the first season of The Human Division. Even if not everyone fully grokked that The Human Division was modeled similarly to a television series, it still worked well. I hope to see a similarly structured second season that answers some of my questions and leaves others open (for a third season of course).

Thank you for continuing to explore the Old Man’s War universe. The delivery and format of The Human Division worked exceptionally well. It’s nice to see some experimentation. In fact, I also really enjoyed the format of Redshirts. I’m sad to hear that the hardcover will have a time-exclusive extra story, but the trade-off allowing me to read the episodes weekly (along with the fact that I will eventually be able to read the story) is worth it to me. While I’ll continue to purchase your books (and any other creations) in any formats, I hope that you continue releasing episodically.

Thanks again, John!

– Peter

As you can see, I was a big fan of the way it was presented. I wish more books were released using this method, and I look forward to The Human Division season 2!

The Human Division concludes with Earth Below, Sky Above

In episode 13 of The Human Division, Scalzi concludes his tale with Earth Below, Sky Above. It was one of the most exciting and emotional episodes in the novel. Earth Below, Sky Above didn’t answer all my questions, but it definitely satisfied me and left me wanting more.

The episode really brought things full circle. There were mentions of the main characters being the B-team, referencing the first episode, The B-Team. Before reading Earth Below, Sky Above, the second episode, Walk the Plank, seemed completely out of place. While it seemed like it could eventually relate to the plot, it hadn’t yet in any way. That changes in Earth Below, Sky Above, and suddenly the odd episode becomes central to the plot. It was positioned perfectly as the second episode of The Human Division.

I mentioned in previous reviews that the plot was building oddly. If the last episode was going to be a large confrontation, surely a substantial reveal must come before that. By the end of the novel, Scalzi still doesn’t answer all the big questions, but the story concludes rather nicely anyways. The structure of the plot progression made a lot more sense once it was clear that we weren’t getting those answers.

If I thought the universe was ending with The Human Division, I’d be rather frustrated. However, upon finishing novel, I had no doubts that Scalzi would be continuing. I immediately tweeted at him asking him for the reveal of the next Old Man’s War book. This morning he revealed on his blog that there would indeed be a second season!

The Human Division worked extraordinarily well. I’m sad to see it end, but I’m looking forward to a sequel. Even if you haven’t read the other novels in the series, it would be enjoyable, but I highly recommend you read the other novels first to get the full experience. As always, Scalzi continues to impress and amaze me.

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads brings us nearly to the end of The Human Division

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads CoverI was expecting the twelfth episode of John Scalzi’s The Human Division to finally reveal who has been behind the acts of war described so far. While The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads provides some great new information, we still don’t know who the antagonists really are. Danielle Lowen, who you might remember from episode nine, The Observers, is back in the United States. She witnesses a terrorist attack and while trying to puzzle together who could be behind it, receives some interesting information.

I’m happy to hear that the final episode next week will be double-length. This was an exciting episode, but it didn’t have much of a cliff hanger. We get a nice reveal at the end, but it’s only about one aspect of what’s been happening and still doesn’t show us who did it. I expected a big reveal in this episode so that we could be left salivating at the resolution in the final episode. Scalzi hasn’t let me down yet; I’m still excited to read the finale, but The Human Division’s structure has been building oddly to the climax.

The Colonial Union and the Conclave discover a possible mutual enemy in A Problem of Proportion

Scalzi’s eleventh episode of The Human Division has the Conclave and Colonial Union meet in an officially unofficial backchannel discussion. Unfortunately, they’re both attacked. It seems likely that whoever set the attack wanted each side to think it was the other. While they investigate who was behind the attack, they come across some interesting finds aboard the enemy ship.

Any episode that features the Conclave is interesting because it’s a different side than that which we normally see. Not only do we get the Conclave in this episode, but we get Conclave interaction with the humans, which is always interesting. While we still don’t know who’s behind the attacks or their motivation, we’re getting closer. Now that the Conclave and Colonial Union each realize that someone is attacking both of them, I expect the tensions to rise. Of course, the fact that there are only two more episodes left in The Human Division make that even more evident! I suspect we’ll get very close if not find out directly who it is and their motivation in the next episode. If only Tuesday could come faster.

Scalzi shows us Phoenix in This Must Be the Place

In This Must Be the Place, episode ten of Scalzi’s The Human Division, we get our first look at the human capital of Phoenix. In the Old Man’s War universe, humans are the only species that have used a planet other than their homeworld as their capital. We’ve known about Phoenix since the original novel, Old Man’s War, but This Must Be the Place is the first time we’ve seen it.

Hart Schmidt travels home on leave to Phoenix to spend a holiday with his family. We meet his politically powerful father and rich family, and through them, we see Phoenix politics. I love that we get to see so many new aspects of the universe Scalzi has created in The Human Division. The episodic nature of novel allows Scalzi to jump to different areas and show us different perspectives. We’ve been back on Earth, seen Phoenix, and listened to debates within the Conclave. These three episodes have been my favorite of the novel so far. I don’t know where Scalzi will take me next, but I’m looking forward to it.

The Human Division #9: The Observers

In Scalzi’s ninth episode of The Human Division, The Observers, some Earthling observers come aboard a Colonial Union ship and watch Abumwe handle negotiations with an alien race. Unfortunately, one of the Earthlings dies and it appears to be a murder. If they can’t figure out what happened, it could be bad for the Colonial Union.

We’re nearing the end of The Human Division with only four more episodes, and we still don’t know who’s causing all the trouble. However, there’s definitely an overarching plot, and we see it here again. This episode continues the juxtaposition of Earth and the Colonial Union, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the Old Man’s War universe. In addition, we see the continued escalation of the unknown threat. Of course, we still have a number of questions. Who would want to kill one of the Earthlings? Who posed as Earthlings and wanted to blow up the ship previously? Who killed the radio host on Earth? Who tried to set up the CDF to look like the aggressors in the first episode? I’m hoping for some basic answers to these soon so that we have a few episodes full of action. We’ll see what we get tomorrow.

Scalzi’s The Sound of Rebellion sets focus on tension

In this week’s episode of The Human Division, The Sound of Rebellion, John Scalzi contrasts last week’s humor with a captive soldier and a lot of tension. We might not see the main characters, but we get some cool Colonial Defense Forces action!

The Sound of Rebellion continues the trend of giving clues as to who the antagonists are without revealing it just yet. Without spoiling the plot, I can also say that we get another interesting look at the abilities of the CDF and of BrainPals in general. One of the most fascinating aspects of Scalzi’s Old Man War universe is how Scalzi has explored what having a powerful, implanted computer in your mind would allow you to do.

Hopefully next week we’ll get a little closer to finding out just who is fighting against the Colonial Union.

The Dog King delivers a large dose of humor to the Scalzi’s The Human Division

Scalzi’s seventh episode of The Human Division, The Dog King, returns to the main characters of the novel, Wilson, Schmidt, and friends. When the diplomatic team gets a new assignment and Wilson is assigned to watching a dog, he gets into a bit of trouble.

The episodic nature of the Human Division allows Scalzi to use a different tone in each episode. While the novel and the Old Man’s War series as a whole has always had some humor, the Dog King seems like more a comedy than previous episodes. I think it’s great that with the Human Division we get a variety of types of episodes. Consider that “Everyone dissolved into a puddle of awwwww” is an actual sentence you can read by experiencing the Dog King. Awesome, right?

Scalzi’s The Back Channel reveals the Conclave

With the sixth episode of the Human Division, Scalzi finally gave me what I really wanted. He showed me the Conclave.

While the Back Channel shows humans as well, it really showcases alien members of the Conclave and the Conclave itself as a political unit. More than anything in the Old Man’s War universe, that’s what I wanted to see next, so I was thrilled to find myself before a large political body of the Conclave.

The Back Channel raises some tension in the story while reaffirming that while the Conclave might be at odds with the Colonial Union, they’re not villains (at least not to the readers). Without giving anything away, we also see that we still have a missing puzzle piece.

Tales From the Clarke, the fifth episode of The Human Division gives a fresh look at a known character

Tales From the Clarke continues Scalzi wonderful episodic The Human Division. This time we see a familiar face from the first episode, Captain Coloma. Scalzi chooses a great protagonist by following a character with whom we’re already familiar but who was not a major character.

She’s tasked with showing off an old ship to delegates from Earth. The Colonial Union wants to rebuild Earth’s trust, so this is a critical mission. However, everything isn’t as it seems. By the end we see some resolution but with more tantalizing questions to propel us into the remaining episodes of The Human Division.

Episode 4 of Scalzi’s The Human Division gives us a glimpse of Earth

A Voice in the Wilderness is another side-story to the overall arc of The Human Division (and a great one at that). For the first time, Scalzi shows us what everyday life is like on Earth. Episode 4 follows a political commentator on Earth and shows us some of the conversations surrounding Earth’s relationships with the Colonial Union and the Conclave. It’s extremely fascinating and something we haven’t seen in the Old Man’s War universe previously.

This episode provides great content for the current state of humanity in the universe. As might be expected by an episode still early in the total work, however, it also leaves us with questions. I’m anxious to find the answers to those questions in future episodes. A Voice in the Wilderness is easily worth the $0.99, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the episodic format of The Human Division!

Reposted from my Goodreads.

We Only Need the Heads gets Scalzi’s The Human Division back on track

Just a few minutes into We Only Need the Heads, John Scalzi’s third episode of The Human Division, and I not only knew it was entertaining, but I also immediately realized the context of the second episode, Walk the Plank. Walk the Plank wasn’t quite as strong as a stand alone episode, but We Only Need the Heads quickly relates back to both of the first episodes.

As one CDF officer is loaned for a CDF mission to remove an unauthorized colony, a Colonial Union ambassador is tasked with completing the final negotiations with an alien race. Of course, these two separate goals are intertwined in ways that neither know at first.

We Only Need the Heads is very engaging, and Scalzi expertly jumps between action with the CDF and dialogue with the ambassadors. I believe we also see some hints of where the story is going in The Human Division, but it might be too early for me to know.

Walk the Plank continues Scalzi’s The Human Division

Walk the Plank is the second episode in John Scalzi’s The Human Division. It’s very different than The B-Team, the first episode, which I presume Scalzi did on purpose to set expectations. Walk the Plank is written as a transcript rather than in a traditional form. In addition, it’s much shorter, and the story doesn’t seem as satisfying.

While the first episode was a great story by itself, Walk the Plank is self-contained but but only decent. If it didn’t exist as part of a larger series, it would be rather boring. On the other hand, it’s more than enough for a chapter in an average novel.

As part of a larger whole, it seems to help set up things to come. There are some troubling problems that will likely reappear in later episodes. To be clear, I wouldn’t complain at all if it was simply a chapter in a novel, which is what it is in a way. However, if the The Human Division was compared to a TV series with The B-Team being the double-length pilot, Walk the Plank would would be one of the more out-of-place episodes with its weird format and subpar plot.

It was entertaining and served the greater story but just didn’t stand alone as amazingly well as The B-Team. Of course, Scalzi’s set such a high bar far himself that it’s to be expected that some episodes would miss by a little. I’d guess that Scalzi knew this to be one of the weaker episodes that’s more of a side story providing additional information, and that’s why it was placed second. Now we know that some episodes will be very different, and this helps give us an idea of what to expect. I can’t wait until next week for the next episode!

Scalzi’s episodic The Human Division kicks off with The B-Team

The B-Team marks John Scalzi’s return to his Old Man’s War universe, the series for which he’s most known. Set after the events of The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale, it tells of a Colonial Union team sent to repair a diplomatic mission gone wrong. While it seems enjoyable without knowledge of the previous books in the series, it would also spoil them. I highly recommend reading the rest of the series first. Readers familiar with the series should enjoy seeing the ramifications of Perry and Sagan’s actions and those of the Conclave.

The B-Team is the first episode of The Human Division, which will be released as one collected book shortly. It’s comprised of thirteen short stories considered episodes of a whole. The B-Team was released on Tuesday, January 15, and a new episode will be releasing every Tuesday until the entire story is published. This reminds me of serialized novels in the past; however, those only worked as a while novel. The Human Division actually consists of stand-alone episodes. It’s a short story collection with an over-arching (presumably) story. This seems like an evolution of Scalzi’s last novel, Redshirts, which he considered a novel with three codas.

The B-Team follows all new characters in the Old Man’s War universe but was still very exciting. The political landscape of the universe was changed significantly at the end of the last Old Man’s War novel, and it’s nice to see those changes. I’m looking forward to the remaining episodes!