Monday, June 3, 2013

The Human Division by John Scalzi

 I kept trying to remember what this book reminded me of, and finally it came to me - the Retief books, by Keith Laumer, where Retief of the CDT (Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne) falls into one odd adventure after another, and constantly solves problems in ways his bosses never expected nor condoned. The novel was originally "serialized" as 99 cent Kindle shorts, then linked together into a broader story, which made it nice to read in small doses when I had ten or fifteen minutes to spare.

It's been so long since I read the Old Man's War series that I'd forgotten where things left off, but if this book takes up from that point, not in a good place for humans. The Colonial Union is estranged from Earth these days, and opposed by the Conclave, an alliance of about four hundred intelligent races from around the galaxy, as well as under attack by some shadowy conspiracy which keeps putting the protagonists of the stories into deep trouble.

Ambassador Abumwe and her aides are definitely not the A-Team, perhaps not even the C-Team, so they draw the assignments that either no one else wants or which are doomed to failure from the start. Her technical geek, Harry Wilson, is on detached assignment from the Colonial Defense Force, and has a tendency to take a skewed perspective on problems. Her assistant undersecretary gopher flunky, Hart Schmidt, comes from a very powerful family on the colonial world of Phoenix, but prefers to toil in obscurity, where at least he feels like he's making a difference. The captain of the Clarke, the starship they all get around the galaxy in, when they're not getting it destroyed, Sophia Coloma, takes it all in stride.

Fun little vignettes, good dialog, mysterious plots afoot - no happy endings, but it made me smile.

1 comment:

Loni said...

I just read Scalzi's Redshirts and loved it. I've been thinking about picking up this series.