Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Human Division

The Colonial Union, now at odds with its own home planet of Earth as well as with the hostile alien Conclave, finds that its long reliance on military force in all encounters with other intelligent species is no longer sustainable, and it must attempt a novel tactic in dealing with the remaining unaffiliated alien races: diplomacy. Ambassador Ode Abumwe and her team, including Colonial Defense Forces tech specialist Lieutenant Harry Wilson, are called on at the last minute to replace a diplomatic ship that has disappeared: Abumwe to take over the mission and Wilson to find out just what happened to that earlier ship.

And that's just the first episode!

The Human Division was originally published as a 13-episode serial, one chapter a week for 99¢ apiece from the middle of January to the beginning of April. The collected hardcover edition came out in May, and I picked it up after that. (Hardly surprising to those who know me; I trade-wait comics as well, and watch TV by the season on DVD.) So I can't speak to how well it worked as a serial. I suspect that if I'd read it that way, there would have been a number of episodes where I was a little confused about where I'd seen certain characters before; as it was, I had to flip back to an earlier chapter for a reminder a couple of times.

Overall, though, I thought it hung together really well as a unified whole, and didn't feel too episodic even though that's literally what it had been. I've seen some reviews of it that expressed some disappointment in what the reviewers felt was a vague non-ending with a distinct lack of closure, but I didn't feel that way about it at all; I thought that enough early questions were answered in the process of raising the later ones that I was quite pleased with this volume as it stood.

Of course, a lot of threads were left hanging for a sequel, so I'm equally pleased that Scalzi's publisher renewed the project for a second season. And yes, I will be trade-waiting that one too.

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