The Human Division Listen-A-Long: Episode 10: This Must Be the Place by John Scalzi

22 03 2013

This Must Be the Place by John Scalzi (The Human Division, Ep. 10)

Read by William Dufris

Audible Frontiers

Length: 44 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Grade: B

PREVIOUSLY ON THE HUMAN DIVISION:

Episode 9: The Observers

The Audiobookaneers Episode 8 and 9 Double Feature

Well, we’re into double digits people! It’s Week 10 of The Human Division, and that Scalzi is a tricksey bastard. I have this strange feeling that he’s lulling us into some sense of complacency, each week moving us a bit away from the overriding conspiracy, until WHAM! He gets all mythological on us. Or, I could be wrong. Also this week Dave is back, after taking a few weeks off due to some crazy made up thing like a new baby or something, our listen along host now has his priorities straight. So, let’s get to the episode.

Synopsis:

Thanksgiving Dinner

My Thoughts:

OK, OK, so, really this wasn’t actually Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving, as we all know, takes place on Earth. This holiday, Harvest Day, takes place on Phoenix, where Diplomatic Assistant Hart Schmidt must deal with his powerful family, all of whom seem to want him to drop out of the Diplomatic Corp, marry a nice girl and take up the family business which is running a whole damn planet. It was nice to learn a bit more about Hart, see a different side to him. That’s basically what this episode was… nice. Nothing really happens. When the episode ends, no real achievement has been unlocked, except for maybe Hart getting the grudging tentative respect of his father. There were no dogs electrocuted. Smart Blood wasn’t used to cook the Turkey. It seemed this episode had no purpose other than make us like Hart a bit more, which of course means HE WILL BE EATEN BY ROBOTIC SPACE BEATLES next episode.

Now, there is nothing wrong with nice. I have had many girls tell me I’m a nice guy, pat me gently on the head, then jump on the back of a motorcycle with a guy wearing a leather jacket. I like being patted on the head. It’s nice. Scalzi took a real risk here because if some of the loose ends aren’t tied up, you know someone, not me of course, will point to this episode and yell, THAT WAS JUST FILLER! WHERE’S THE BEEF SCALZI? WHERE’S THE BEEF? Now, I wouldn’t do that, but still. I liked this episode. It exists. When Scalzi does blow us away with an amazing episode, that rips our hearts out and forever changes not just the Old Man’s War Universe but how we view ourselves as humans, I will remember this one fondly, if I remember it at all.

William Dufris read this nice episode. This one was quite dialogue heavy and because of this and all the He said, she said, probably seemed a little smoother in print, but still. Dufris does well at dialogue, but truly how much variety of voice can you use in a family discussion. It was all nice and fun and pleasant, with little touches and flairs along the way, but definitely not the episode to submit for the Audie nomination. Next week’s episode is called A Problem of Proportion, so we all know that means GREAT KILLER ROBOTIC BEATLE SWARMS WITH AN APPETITE FOR DIPLOMATIC ASSISTANTS. At least, I hope it does.

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The Human Division Listen-A-Long: Episode 8: The Sound of Rebellion by John Scalzi

8 03 2013

The Sound of Rebellion by John Scalzi (The Human Division, Episode 8)

Read by William Dufris

Audible Frontiers

Length: 41 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Grade: B

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 1: The B-Team
My Review
The Audiobookaneers
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com

Episode 2: Walk The Plank
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers

Episode 3: We Only Need the Heads
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
Audiobookaneers

Episode 4: A Voice in the Wilderness
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers

Episode 5: Tales From the Clarke
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers

Episode 6: The Back Channel
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers
My Review

Episode 7: The Dog King
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.Com
The Audiobookaneers
My Review

Episode 8: The Sound of Rebellion
Stainless Steel Dropping
Tor.com

Special Features:

Interview with The Human Division narrator, William Dufris.

It’s week 8 of The Human Division Listen-A-Long and we have started what is commonly referred to as The Home Stretch. This week’s episode was "The Sound of Rebellion" was interesting. For fun, let me give you a timeline of how my reactions went.

  •     Oh, another episode away from the B-Team. I’m cool with that.
  •     What a polite interrogator to promise no torture. Don’t trust her Lt. Whatsyourname.
  •     Damn, this episode has lots of internal dialogue… ho… humm…
  •     Kinda sleepy… the auditory mapping thing is ki…    zzzzzz….  um… nd of cool.
  •     More cool uses for smart blood… I wonder what I should do this weekend…
  •     HOLY SHIT!!!! COOL JACK BAUERESQUE ASS KICKING! KICK ASS! BURN IT WITH BLOODFIRE!!! THIS CHICK IS BAD ASS!!! NUDE SUPER SOLDIERS FUNKY BLOOD BURNING ACTION SEQUENCES ROCK!!!!!
  •     Government conspiracy. Don’t believe the lies!

Honestly, I’m still not sure what to think of The Sound of Rebellion. I liked the character of Lt. Heather Lee, and found it overall kind of clever. I thought the auditory mapping was pretty cool, even if part of me doubted it was a plausible scenario to develop under such a stressful situation. I also thought there was a lot of valuable information being given to us as readers and listeners, I just really couldn’t figure out what that valuable information was or how it would be important later. I think part of me is becoming just a bit frustrated, because I’m still waiting for that "A Ha!" moment that I know will be coming when pieces start falling into place. Yet, with all my problems, I loved the kick ass action scene. The whole episode had a bit of a 24 in Space feel to it, or maybe Alias on another planet, and I always like to see mean ole torturers get their comeuppance. So, this was probably my least favorite episode so far, but it still totally kicked ass, and I know others out there probably loved it.

One of the interesting conundrums with audiobooks is that sometimes there are audio clues to some mystery that can be revealed by a narrator. For instance, there was a novel where the surprise bad guy was the only Irish character in the book, and in some of the scenes where the "mastery" bad guy talked, the narrator used an Irish accent, pretty much telling us all who the bad guy was. In this episode, the main bad guy was called "2" and the character used voice distortion to keep her capture from recording her voice. I think when you become quite familiar with a narrator, you often become to spot their opposite sex characters. Despite the fact that the voice was distorted, I couldn’t help by think, "That sounds like William Dufris’ Lady Voice." Well, I leave it up to you all to determine if that was correct, because no spoilers. That being said, I liked Dufris work in this episodes. He kept me interested in the slower parts, and smacked me with his pacing when the excitement came. Now, next week, it’s The Observers, who will Observe things, probably with multiple senses.





The Human Division Listen-A-Long: Episode 7: The Dog King by John Scalzi

1 03 2013

The Dog King by John Scalzi (The Human Division, Episode 7)

Read by William Dufris

Audible Frontiers

Length: 58 Min

Genre: Science Fiction

Grade: B+

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 1: The B-Team
My Review
The Audiobookaneers
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com

Episode 2: Walk The Plank
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers

Episode 3: We Only Need the Heads
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
Audiobookaneers

Episode 4: A Voice in the Wilderness
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers

Episode 5: Tales From the Clarke
My Review
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers

Episode 6: The Back Channel
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com
The Audiobookaneers
My Review

Episode 7: The Dog King
Stainless Steel Droppings
Tor.com

Special Features:

Interview with The Human Division narrator, William Dufris.

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.