As we are now on week six, I am going to bet that you know all about this latest addition of the Old Man’s War series. If you are still not familiar with Scalzi’s latest offering, and the unique format in which it is being published, take a moment to read the first couple paragraphs of the review for Episode #5 – Tales from the Clarke.
The synopsis for The Human Division Episode #6 – The Back Channel reads:
The Conclave is a confederation of four hundred alien races—many of whom would like to see the Colonial Union, and the humans inside of it, blasted to extinction. To avoid a conflict that neither side can afford, Conclave leader General Tarsem Gau appoints Hafte Sorvalh to resolve an emerging diplomatic crisis with the humans, before the only acceptable solution is war.
Like last week’s episode, we are still enjoying a nice cool glass of water. You are able to sit back, enjoy your churros, pet your goat — you do have a goat, don’t you? — and take in the scenery.
Also, like last week, this does not mean this week’s episode is without action. Boy howdy! There is all sort of deliciously delightful intrigue found within this episode. There are a number of wonderful comedic beats. Also, I kind of fell in lust with Hafte Sorvalh. She is a fabulicious character. I want to devour more of her.
Because I like to keep reviews spoiler free, and because we are almost at the halfway point, let’s talk about a couple things.
First, I think you need to make sure your safety belts are firmly secured and all limbs are tucked well inside the compartment. I have a feeling we are nearing the end of our reprieve from the fast-paced action of this ride, and we are about to start screaming down the biggest hill on this roller coaster. We may get a moment here and there to catch our breath, but in Episode #6 – The Back Channel, a number of things were put into place that have me thinking we are about to embark on an extremely wild ride. The tension between the Conclave and the Colonial Union is about to come to a head, with humans stuck in the middle.
If I was a betting person, I’d say we have, at most, two more episodes before we are begging to be let off, all the while completely enjoying this crazy ride called The Human Division.
Second, I am quite pleased with how Scalzi is managing to introduce information from previous Old Man’s War books, without weighing the story down with repetitive information.
There are a number of things that come up in Episode #6 – The Back Channel that reference prior events. Scalzi doesn’t give a lot of details. He only gives a sentence or two, when necessary, to tie the story into what has already happened.
I have not read any of the previous Old Man’s War books. Scalzi gives uninitiated readers, such as myself, a decent amount of information to know that there is a lot of pre-existing tension between the different factions. I know that John Perry is a very important figure, even if I’m not completely aware of how and why. I know what purpose is served by humans. I know how someone becomes a member of the Colonial Union Forces. I know just enough to get by and not feel like I’m missing some important piece of information.
That said, I know that my enjoyment would be much greater if I had read the previous books. However, that does not take away from my enjoyment. Most importantly, it does not impede my ability to follow the story and not feel completely lost in this universe.
Scalzi manages to balance a need to keep the uninitiated from losing their path with the need to not bury the initiated with horribly repetitive information.
When reading a series, there are few things that frustrate me more than when a good portion of subsequent books is devoted to flashback scenes, recaps, etc. Because there are only a handful of sentences, spread out within this episode, that serve to tie this book with previous books, they expertly serve the triple purpose of refreshing the memory of those who have read all the books, bringing the uninitiated into the loop, and tying the series together.
Now, excuse me while I take this time to drink plenty of water and prepare for the ride that is to come.
You can read my review of Episode #1 – The B-Team here, my review of Episode #2 – Walk the Plank here, my review of Episode #3 – We Only Need the Heads here, my review of Episode #4 – A Voice in the Wilderness here, and my review of Episode #5 – Tales from the Clarke here.
A copy of this book was provided for the purposes of this review.