Read by William Dufris
Length: 47 Mins
Genre: Science Fiction
As part of The Human Division Listen-A-Long, hosted by The Audiobookaneers, I will be posting my thought on each episode on the Friday after release. If you are involved in the Listen-A-Long, or Read-A-Long, or just posting your thoughts each week, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments and I will add it to my weekly roundup of post.
First off, I must get something off my chest. I like and respect John Scalzi as a writer, and find him relatively enjoyable in his social media outlets. That being said, I often decry when an author uses his art as a poorly disguised platform of propaganda for a specific world view. For far too long Scalzi has been spouting his pro-Churro propaganda, and now it his bled into his writing. For Shame, Mr. Scalzi…. now go spend that Churro money on some dignity. Now, that the unpleasantness is over, for this week’s The Human Division we get Aliens and the Conclave. I for one cheered at this. One of the things that really pulled into the Old Man’s War series, as well as some of his other novels, like Agent to the Stars, was Scalzi’s depictions of alien cultures. So, I was excited about a tale from the perspective of The Conclave. In The Back Channel, the leader of The Conclave is attempting to ebb the tide of anti-Human sentiment. When he discovers the existence of a Colonial Defense presence on unauthorized human Wildcat colonies, he sends his agent Hafte Sorvalh to establish a contact with the CDF, to try to prevent the break out of war. I really enjoyed this episode, but mostly because it fit nicely into my bread basket. I always enjoy the backroom dealings and subtle manipulations of political subplots, and felt The Back Channel was cleverly done. It also gave us a nice moment where some not so nice people were given their comeuppance, and that’s always nice. I was slightly disappointed in the lack of detail in some of the alien species, but being that this really wasn’t the point of the episode I can hardly complain. There was just the right amount of humorous touches within the tale to keep me feeling good. My major concern with the tale is it seems to wrap up some subplots within the story a bit too cleanly, and I worry that it removes some level of tensions without adding anything in its place. Of course, being this is a serial novel, that’s always what next week is for. Overall, I think if you are a reader who enjoys political maneuverings in your scifi, you will enjoy this episode, and for everyone else, it’s a nice but forgettable side trip in a rich tale.
When I read the synopsis, I was like OMG SCALZI"S GONNA MAKE DUFRIS TALK ALL CRAZY ALIEN!!! What I didn’t expect was a nice exotic feel, with a soft, sardonic humor in his characterization of Hafte Sorvahl. Dufris adds a textured richness to this episode that was nice. I especially enjoyed the light hearted tone Dufris used when Sorvahl were dealing with the racist wildcatters. It was the perfect delivery, full of humor and just the right counterbalance to the obnoxious scumbags she was dealing with. I think this is one of those episodes that may actually come off better in audio then in print, so to all you enjoyers of the Print Scalzi, +1 to us Audiobook Scalzis.