Read by William Dufris
Length: 49 Min
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.
Episode 4: A Voice in the Wilderness
Stainless Steel Droppings
Once the fourth most popular Radio talk show host in America, Al Birnbaum has seen a significant decline in his ratings. Fearing for his job, and lavish lifestyle, Al is approached by a shady figure offering him the chance to regain his fortune, if he will only shape the narrative in the service of his clients. Now, Al has become the champion of The Colonial Defense Force on Earth, but at what cost? With the fourth episode of The Human Division, we break away again from the main arch of the story, and get our first real good look at Earth. I like that Scalzi’s future Earth is a recognizable one. The tech isn’t drastically futuristic, and the social and political extrapolations are logical offshoots of our current society. Setting up his earth in this way allowed him to not worry too much about the world building and get right to the gist of the story. I’m very interested in what the reactions to this story will be. Personally, I really liked it. It’s not anything groundbreaking, and is a side trip in the story, and not necessarily a needed one. Yet, what it does is add depth to the overall tale, showing that the underlining conspiracy is complex, but well planned, and that it’s impact will affect all aspects of Scalzi’s universe. Birnbaum isn’t a likable character, but he is a relatable one, and while he’s being manipulated by forces well beyond him, it’s something he knows going in and accepts it. I liked the whole feel of the story, and felt Scalzi packed a lot into a lean 49 minutes. I doubt it will be my favorite episode of the series, but it’s one with a purpose that is well served.
You would think that a Episode about a radio talk show host would be a real moment for William Dufris to shine, yet, this episode wasn’t much of a challenge for the veteran narrator. I think that Dufris excels in the untraditional story, whether it be a weird alien culture, or unique story structure. This story was pretty straight forward, and the actual "on air" time to Birnbaum was minimal. The highlight of the episode was Birnbaum’s interaction with a conspiracy laden listener, who is run over by the bombastic Radio Talk Show host with an agenda. It was the purest moment of levity in the episode, and a lot of fun to listen to. So, I for one hope that next week’s episode, Tales From the Clarke, has some strange Cactus Aliens, or is told in Iambic Pentameter or something like that to allow Dufris to show us his chops as a narrator,