For those of you unfamiliar with John Scalzi’s latest novel, 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. It is the latest book in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series.
The official synopsis for Episode #7 – The Dog King reads:
CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson has one simple task: Watch an ambassador’s dog while the diplomat is conducting sensitive negotiations with an alien race. But you know dogs—always getting into something. And when this dog gets into something that could launch an alien civil war, Wilson has to find a way to solve the conflict, fast, or be the one in the Colonial Union’s doghouse.
Here’s the deal. I did not read the synopsis before reading this episode. Also, I did not read Scalzi’s blog post warning readers that this episode was a funny one. I was completely unprepared for the hilarity that ensued. After my busy last few days — reason for this review being late – Episode #7 – The Dog King was exactly what I needed.
Because the synopsis lets the reader know that there is a dog in this episode, a dog accompanying an “away mission” no less, I don’t feel bad talking about my initial thoughts when I read the beginning of this episode. Initially, I was worried that it would lead to spoilers.
You may or may not be aware that if I can relate something to that one time on Star Trek, that is exactly where my brain will go. The moment I became aware that a dog was going on an away mission, I stopped reading and said, “Didn’t these people learn anything from Captain Jonathan Archer? You never take a dog on an away mission! Especially on a diplomatic away mission! What is going to happen when the dog decides to do what dogs do, and relieve itself on some important plant! After the problems on your last few missions, don’t you know it is probably a good idea to leave the dog at home! Seriously!”
Thankfully, the dog didn’t pee on any important plants. Of course, Scalzi isn’t going to rip off Star Trek: Enterprise, even if the premise is similar. The events that follow are ridiculous, absurd, and over-the-top; leaving tears in my eyes as I laughed the hardest I’ve laughed in some time. I’ve been trying to decide if I laughed that hard while reading Redshirts, which is my favourite Scalzi book, and one of my favourite books of all time. I’m not sure that I did. If I did laugh that hard while reading Redshirts, I probably don’t remember because it has been quite a while since I laughed until there were tears in my eyes.
I really do not know how William Dufris, the person who is narrating the Audible version of this book, managed. I’ve been reading the episodes out loud to my partner. Reading Episode #7 – The Dog King, while trying to remain understood, was a challenge.
I’ve always enjoyed Scalzi’s sense of humour. He does sarcastic humour exceptionally well. Even though there is a good dose of his signature sarcastic humour in this episode, the situational humour is the real kicker. He also inserts a little bit of humour that some may say is just plain wrong. I don’t know what it says about my warped brain, but that made me laugh the hardest.
Aside from being laugh-out-loud funny, the thing I love the most about Episode #7 – The Dog King is that you can read it completely on its own, without reading anything else from The Human Division, and enjoy it.
Yes, each episode is self-contained, telling a complete story, and does stand on its own. Yes, Episode #7 – The Dog King does serve to move the overall story forward. But, to fully enjoy previous episodes of The Human Division, the reader does need to be aware of the events from previous episodes. Every thing you need to know in order to enjoy Episode #7 – The Dog King is found within the episode.
If you decide to never read anything else from The Human Division, or if you’ve decided you are going to wait until the full release in May because the episodic nature is not working for you, or if you’ve read the first few episodes and have decided that it just isn’t your thing, I implore you to read The Human Division Episode #7 – The Dog King. Do it for your mental health! It will only cost you $0.99 USD/CAD!
Now that we’ve had a nice breather over the last three episodes, complete with rib-cracking laughter, I’m nice and rested, and looking forward to getting back to the CRASH BANG BOOM MURDER INTRIGUE EXPLOSION ride that has been The Human Division.
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, my review of Episode #5 – Tales from the Clarke here, and my review of Episode #6 – The Back Channel here.
A copy of this book was provided for the purposes of this review.