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The Human Division (Old Man's War) Mass Market Paperback – February 25, 2014
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Sort of a mixed bag here from the author of Redshirts (2012) and other fine sf novels. Scalzi’s writing is as readable as ever, but the story—set in the universe of his Old Man’s War (2004)—is a bit unfocused. But that’s probably unavoidable, given that the novel began life as a 13-part online serial. Here’s the premise: the Colonial Union is on the outs from planet Earth, the union’s big secret—that it has used humanity as a sort of factory for its soldiers—having recently been revealed. An allied group of alien races, the Conclave, is courting humanity, offering safety in their vast numbers, but this could spell disaster for the CU. Each of the book’s 13 interconnected stories adds a piece to the picture, using multiple points of view to move the narrative forward. Readers expecting a straightforward sequel to Old Man’s War and its follow-ups may be disappointed, but any new novel from the extremely talented Scalzi is always good news, and this one, despite its experimental feel and shifting narrative, is one more proof that he’s an unqualified A-lister in the genre. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
“A Heinlein-like adventure for a serious sci-fi fan.” ―Kirkus Reviews
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Top Customer Reviews
I had skipped the serial method of delivery because I wanted to be able to read through to a conclusion and because I did not want to have one story split into 14 titles on my kindle. So I guess I am still ahead if this is volume 1 of 3, or whatever it turns out to be.
I wish it would have been clear before I bought. This seems so near the border between an honest miscommunication and sleazy marketing that it is irritating.
Books 5-6 don't really carry the story forward. And I can't help but think Scalzi stopped taking the series seriously. Seems like there are more joke-aliens and silly scenarios and he's just "having fun with it", which is fine if I'm reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld series which is meant to be a parody to begin with but it makes for a disappointing continuation of the previously serious Old Man's War.
Unfortunately, however, Scalzi simply neglected to provide an ending to the novel. Much of the novel is devoted to describing the various ways in which unknown actors are attempting to sabotage a peace process and a number of other diplomatic initiatives. Suspense is very skillfully built up until the reader is simply aching to know who the unknown actors are and what their motives are... and then the novel simply ends.
Ordinarily, I would give this book 5 stars but this Hideous Sin forces me to deduct two stars (at least!) from the rating. Fortunately, Scalzi has not committed this Terrible Deed in his previous works. If you're curious about John's Scalzi, and I think you should be, you should check out his previous works such as Old Man's War and Redshirts in which he positively shined.
I’ve read a handful of Scalzi’s other books like Agent to the Stars (2005), Fuzzy Nation (2011), Redshirts (2012), and Lock In (2014), The End of All Things (2015). All of them were good, entertaining, but they didn’t knock my socks off like Old Man’s War did.
If you’re going to read one story by John Scalzi, I recommend you read Old Man’s War (2005). It’s one of my top five favorite military science fiction adventure stories. The story is told first person, past tense, from protagonist John Perry’s point of view.
Starship Troopers (1959) (not like the movie) by Robert A. Heinlein is the book that got me started in sci-fi adventures, and has remained one of my top five favorite military science fiction adventure stories for decades. The Forever War (1974) by Joe Haldeman, Armor (1984) by John Steakley, and Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card, round out my top five military sci-fi adventure stories.
If you like any of the above you might also like Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet series, Taylor Anderson’s Destroyermen series, Andre Norton’s Star Soldiers, Andy Weir’s The Martian, or Frank Herbert’s Dune. Other sci-fi and fantasy authors I like include Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Paolo Bacigalupi, Arthur C. Clarke, Earnest Cline, Suzanne Collins, Abe Evergreen, Terry Goodkind, Hugh Howey, Robert Jordan, George Martin, Larry Niven, Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson and J.R.R. Tolkien.
OK, we've got another Old Man's War novel! Great! It's a serialized novel, which is a neat new thing, which incentivizes coherent beginnings and endings to volumes. Although some of us who like their novels, even if they read like collections of short stories, to be in one chunk, because we read it straight through in one sitting. So we wait for the book edition to come out. Also great! Except that it's an unsatisfying read because there's all this awesome intrigue and problem solving and IT DOESN'T GO ANYWHERE EXCEPT A POTENTIALLY EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM. It's like there's another story that was supposed to wrap up all of the plot lines that got started, and it got left out in a giant editing mistake.
So, great story, great universe, I loved some of the lines, and this is very much the "New" (post-Fuzzy) Scalzi who lets his sense of humor out and isn't trying too hard to become an established sci-fi writer. But, one star off, because Scalzi accidentally the.
(Yes, that was on purpose.)