To recap: Published by Tor, The Human Division is being released as 13 episodes. The hardcover version, which will include all 13 episodes, will be published on May 14, 2013. Today was the release of The Human Division Episode #3 – We Only Need the Heads.
Each episode is self-contained, just like you would except with an episodic television series that has a story arc. The Human Division is also a stand-alone story. You do not need to have read any of the other books in this series in order to enjoy it. Trust me on this.
So what happens in Episode #3 - We Only Need the Heads? SO MUCH! But to remain spoiler-free, I’ll share part of the official excerpt:
CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson has been loaned out to a CDF platoon tasked with secretly removing an unauthorized colony of humans on an alien world. Colonial Ambassador Abumwe has been ordered to participate in final negotiations with an alien race the Union hopes to make allies. Wilson and Abumwe’s missions are fated to cross—and in doing so, place both missions at risk of failure.
Scalzi has been very smart with his approach. There have been a few authors who have attempted serialized fiction, often with mixed success. A common critique of other authors who have attempted this is that these little stories, found within the larger story, seem incomplete. So far, by the time I finish reading an episode, I feel both satisfied that a complete story has been told, yet my brain screams for more.
It was so difficult not to “cheat” and read the rest of the book. I am trying my damnedest to work through this book like the regular consumer, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to do this. At the end of March, I will have to read the final episodes in one sitting. Knowing this gives me a little bit of comfort.
To stress: This, “I want more, NOW!” is because Scalzi tells a damn fine story, not because it is incomplete in a “plot hole” sort of way. If Scalzi was unable to balance telling a self-contained story with leaving the reader wanting to find out what happens next in the greater picture, he would have failed.
Hopefully this paragraph isn’t too spoilery. At the end of Episode #3 – We Only Need the Heads, I found myself saying, out loud, “What’s in the box? What’s in the fucking box?!” I knew what’s in the box, but it reminded me of a certain movie that will remain nameless. Let’s just say that the fact this episode reminded me of that movie, even if only in a certain context, is a very good thing, indeed.
Thoroughly engaging, and filled with a nice balance of humour and hold-on-to-your-seats-you’re-in-for-a-wild-ride action, suspense, drama, social commentary, and intrigue, The Human Division is satisfying my need for excellent weekly science-fiction that I think is currently missing in television.
To repeat what I said in my review of Episode #2 – Walk the Plank, there is little to no risk to you as a reader.
With this episodic format, you risk wasting, at a minimum, $0.99. I would guess that you’d waste $3.96, at most, if you were to give the book a few more episodes before deciding to walk away from it.
Also, if you are like me and really prefer to read the entire book in one or two sittings, then you can pay $0.99 for the first episode, decide if you like what you read, then wait for the entire book to be published at the later date.
A copy of this book was provided for the purposes of this review.