Read by William Dufris
Length: 58 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.
It’s Week 7 of The Human Division Listen-A-Long, and of course, John Scalzi, the master of writing stuff, knows his business. Mr. Scalzi understands how to keep his readers happy, and proves it by following these basic author type rules.
- If you feel your readers are starting to drift off, add a dog.
- If you feel your tale needs more emotional impact, put said dog in jeopardy.
- Always merge unlikely earth species together to make awesome aliens, for example Tick Bears. See also Squid Giraffes, Goat Eagles, Gorrilaroos, and The Platypus.
In The Dog King, Lt. Harry Wilson is assigned the task of watching over an Ambassadors dog while she’s mediating an important and tricky treaty on a planet involved in a bloody civil war. While performing his duties, his charge, a Lhasa Apso names Tuffy makes a discovery that puts both the mediation and Tuffy’s life in jeopardy. While The Dog King seemingly adds little to the underlining mystery of The Human Division and the Old Man’s War universe, it’s a great example of why this serial storytelling works. The Dog King seems like a part of a book that would end up on the editing floor, to be released later as a short story. Yet, the serial nature of the Human Division allows us to experience this little gem, while wondering if maybe this story will actually be important in the final disposition of the tale. The great thing about The Dog King was that most of the twists and turns of the story were predictable, and totally telegraphed, and yet I loved them all the same. Sure, I’m a sucker for a good dog story, but while I think they can be seen as cheap attempts to play on out love of man’s best friend, they also give us bits of insight into the characters. While Harry Wilson could seem a bit callous towards Tuffy, you could also see that in fact he’s just an old softy as he goes out of his way to save the little pooch. Of course, it’s because it served the greater good and not because he LUVS THE PUPPY… WHO’S A GOOD BOY… TUFFY… TUFFY IS A GOOD DOG YES HE IS.
One of the things I notice, as an audiobook listener, is that Scalzi often uses rapid fire dialogue from multiple characters as a way to create tension in a scene. I also noticed, particularly in Redshirts, that this requires a bunch of dialogue tags to help keep things coherent in print, but somewhat painful in audio. This episode had some of these moments, but I was impressed with William Dufris, because he managed to soften the impact of them. Also, my favorite non-dog character of this episode was the Groundkeeper Alien, who had some of the best moments of the entire serial, and they were delivered perfectly by William Dufris, inciting more than one laugh out of me. I really enjoyed The Dog King, and if you didn’t, well, then you probably have no soul or are a cat person, which probably amounts to the same thing.