Book Review: The Human Division by John Scalzi

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Dear John Scalzi, please ink a deal with either HBO or Netflix or some other production company that can make the Old Man’s War universe a television reality.  Thank you, everybody.

“The Human Division” is the last book until the next book of the Old Man’s War universe.  It’s not really a novel as much as it is a series of short stories, most of which center on the same characters.  Taken together, they provide a timeline of events after John Perry’s exploits in “The Last Colony”.  The focus this time, however, is the Colonial Union’s State Department.  Or, to be more precise, a single crew of diplomats as they traverse the galaxy signing trade agreements and being the friendly face of the Colonial Union as they finally attempt diplomacy instead of that whole blowing everything up thing they were doing before.

The characters in this book are mostly new, except for Harry Wilson who made an appearance in “Old Man’s War” as part of the same Old Geezer Club (or something like that) as John Perry when they joined the Colonial Defense Force.  We are introduced to various memorable characters such as Ode Abumwe, the stern and stately ambassador, Hart Schmidt, the one often responsible for getting the team both in and out of trouble, and Danielle Lowen, the U.S. diplomat who all to often gets caught up in Schmidt’s and Wilson’s adventures.

As you can imagine, the diplomatic universe is rife with Scalzian wit opportunities and John Scalzi does not disappoint.  We are treated to such gems as a traditional salt-water-spitting-in-the-face ceremonial greeting and beloved dogs being swallowed by plants and Wilson fighting a member of an alien race completely naked as part of a diplomatic test of strengths between the two races.  Throughout, you have the light, friendly banter between Wilson and Schmidt and Lowen as they proceed from one adventure to another.  It’s a treat.

I can’t help but feel that serials like the ones contained in this book are what the Old Man’s War universe was meant for.  They are just the right length for Scalzi’s wit and ability to write individual scenes.  I hope for many more iterations to come.  And I also mysteriously want a churro.