The Human Division by John Scalzi

The B-Team: The Human Division, Episode 1 | [John Scalzi]

Summary: A 13 episode serial audiobook (or kindle book) from John Scalzi set in the Old Man’s War universe.

Publishers and authors will never stop experimenting, in part because the technology will never stop changing.

Over the past few years Stephen King tried a pay as you go serial (he never finished the book).  Thomas Nelson tried giving away a digital copy of the book with every hardcover copy sold (they phased it out).  Cory Doctorow gives away his digital copies of his books and relied on paper sales to make money (he now allows you go buy ebooks).  Baen had a large number of free ebooks that were designed to get you hooked and then buy the later books in a series (the free ebooks still exist, but are a fraction of the original list).  Baen also tried to created a store outside the major ebook stores and kept their ebooks for sale only at their site (they are now available on Amazon and all the other major ebook stores.)

There have been many more experiments than this.  But this is a good overview to show that most experiments fail, but some stick.  A lot of people only 5 years ago were predicting Amazon Kindle would fail.  It is still the dominant ebook store.  The iPad has changed the face of computing.  Smartphones are going to be the most common way to access the internet soon.

John Scalzi is experimenting with the serial format.  These are only available on digital formats, Audible.com Audiobook or Amazon Kindle ebook.  The first chapter is available for free in audiobook, but is only $0.99 in either format at full price.

It is the story of a diplomatic mission that is following after another diplomatic mission that disappeared without a trace.  Harry Wilson (a minor character from Old Man’s War) is on the follow up ship.  They are a B-Team replacement chosen primarily for being close, not for being the best team for the job.

This is the setup for the rest of the episodes.  They are all supposed to be fairly stand alone stories.  I have listened to the first two.  The rest will release one at a time on Tuesdays.

I really liked the first story.  It felt complete and worth listening to (especially since I got it for free.)  It was just over 2 hours on audio and 93 pages in print form.  But the second installment was only 39 minutes and 32 pages in print format.  But it was still $0.99. (If you are a member at Audible.com the episodes are discounted to $0.69 each.)

At 30 or so pages a piece, these feel too short for a weekly $0.99 serial.  I assume at some point they will bundle them up and sell them at a single price.  I have not decided, but my temptation is to wait until they have been all released.

The comments on the Kindle version second episode are pretty brutal.  People mostly liked the content and length of the first but were disappointed in the second.  So 15 of 23 reviews are 1 or 2 star on the second episode compared to 19 of 23 being 4 or 5-star reviews on the first installment.

I will say the only real content complaint that I have is that Scalzi’s uses a lot of Schmidt said, Wilson said, Schmidt said, Wilson said.  Literally scores of uses of the word said.  And it feels worse in the audiobook where the narrator says “Said” all of those times.  In print you just skip over it.

The Human Division by John Scalzi Purchase Links: First Installment Audible.com audiobook, Kindle Edition, List of Kindle Installments, List of Audible.com Installments

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