The Human Division (Episodes 4-10) by John Scalzi

A Voice in the Wilderness: The Human Division, Episode 4 | [John Scalzi]Summary: A 13 episode series of connected short stories set in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War universe.

I have long been in favor of authors and publishers experimenting to find new methods of writing and distributing books.  Now that I have experienced a real episodic serial I am not sure that I am a fan.

First of all it feels like it is more expensive.  I don’t think it actually is, the first episode was free, the 2nd to 5th episodes I bought at the standard Audible member discount price of $0.69.  Then episodes 6 to 13 I bought during the Spring Cleaning sale for $0.51 a piece.  There was a note on my purchase that said I will be charged individually for the episodes that have not yet been released.  So Audible is going to charge me $0.51 per week for the next four weeks.  Incurring individual processing fees instead of bundling the costs together (since I bought them all at once.)

In total I will have paid $6.87 for the whole book.  And most of that was paid for with promotional credit from Audible.  But even though I actually paid less than I would for a standard Scalzi book, it feels like I paid more because I purchased them over three sessions and almost three months.

The basic story line is about a diplomatic courier ship that acts as a trouble shooter.  The first episode is accidental.  But once their bosses realize they are pretty good at responding to whatever is thrown at them they are tasked with jobs that no one else wants.  One irritating feature is that the bosses are convinced that the way to keep the group at the top of their game is to constantly threaten them with being fired, telling them they are doing a lousy job.  When clearly they are doing a great job.  If the group is as good as they are meant to be, then it is not consistent that they believe that they are not all that good.

As with any collection of short stories, the stories themselves are a bit uneven.  A few are more military science fiction.  The Dog King (#7) is almost a comedy.  There are a couple that are outside of the main storyline and tell alien stories.

Most are in the 45 to 55 minutes.  A couple are nearly two hours.  On the whole I like the stories and the universe they are set in.  But I am not a fan of the format.  I would rather just have a full book that I can read straight through.  And while the short stories give some flexibility in the story telling, I have never liked short stories as well as full length novels.

I am caught up and waiting on the rest of the episodes to be released to see if they end as well as they started.

The Human Division Purchase Links: Audible.com Audiobooks, Kindle Editions

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