The Human Division, Episode Four: A Voice in the Wilderness is Now Live!

Good morning! It’s Tuesday once again, and that means the latest installment of The Human Division, which has a title alumni of Dartmouth will be pleased about. Here’s the description blurb for this episode:

Albert Birnbaum was once one of the biggest political talk show hosts around, but these days he’s watching his career enter a death spiral. A stranger offers a solution to his woes, promising to put him back on top. It’s everything Birnbaum wants, but is there a catch? And does Birnbaum actually care if there is?

I had fun writing this one, because Birnbaum is a fun character to get into the head of. This is also the first time in the Old Man’s War universe that we spend any time on Earth other than in John Perry’s hometown — this is the Washington, DC of the future, which one will find has resonances with the Washington of today, one, because of the nature of what’s up with the Earth in the Old Man’s War series, and two, because people are still the same, even a couple three hundred years into the future.

Also, people might be beginning to see a pattern, which is that there are some episodes that are “main story” and some that go further afield, exploring other areas of the universe. This is one of the things I actually love about the episodic nature of this novel. It’s exciting for me as a writer, and I think interesting for the folks who want to see more of the lay of the land.

As always, there will be a discussion about this episode on Tor.com; I’ll post it when it goes live (update: Here’s the link!). And if you like the episode (and you, know, even if you don’t), feel free to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads and such.

Remember to tune in next week as Harry Wilson returns to confront a mystery… and he’s not the only one confronting it.

A Voice in the Wilderness: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBookstore|Google Play|Kobo|Audible (audio) (all links US)

35 thoughts on “The Human Division, Episode Four: A Voice in the Wilderness is Now Live!

  1. In the future they still have antiquated TV studios for news?

    And ginormous TV cameras that they need a stand for?

    Those are antiquated NOW.

    (I’m talking about the book cover)

  2. Can’t wait to get home and start reading ;-).

    That humans stay the same is a great thing for SF&F writers. How else could we take an abducted roman soldier, let him capture a starship and put him into a battle against aliens (or all the other things you authors are putting us humans through).

  3. John this book has made me hate you! I have to wait a whole week to read the next episode. It reminds me of the serials they used to show when I was a kid in the fifties at the theater. At least a big snow storm can’t keep me from the next read. That provided the internet doesn’t fail. Oh lord that’s another thing to worry about now!

  4. That you had fun writing this one came through. I’m definitely digging the episodic nature if it allows these sorts of vignettes to sneak their way in.

  5. Since I can’t read any of the other commets for fear of spoilers, I’ll just say the cover art has been really great for all of these episodes so far, and I am looking forward to the hardcover edition.

    You new-fangled folks who are buying these ebooks….enjoy what I’m sure is a fun series.

  6. I love this release schedule! Tuesdays are often a frustrating day at work for me, and it’s been really nice to have the new installments of THD to look forward to at the end of the day.

  7. This is such a rip-off! It’s not even the same characters as the rest of the series WHARRGARBL!

    (Just getting it in there before the haters.)

    Great story, and I’m curious to see how this episode relates to the larger story. I was surprised to see how parts 2 and 3 related so closely, so I’m not anticipating anything…

  8. Just picked up my copy and so far it’s been a fantastic ride. Love the individule episodes as it gives me something to look forward to. Kinda like a podcast but more awesome :) Any who, would you by chance have any idea on the status of the audio books? I’ve got the first 2 but the third seems to be missing in action from itunes….

    ~Crim (aka greywind24 on twitter)

  9. I have to say, I’m really enjoying the periodic, serialized format. Not only is it nice to wake up to a new bit of story every week, I quite like that it allows you to experiment and play around in a way that would be difficult in a single, longer-form work. You get the ability to play with form that comes from writing a series of short stories, but the depth that comes from writing a novel.

  10. Read it at lunch (actually, while waiting for my lunch), and had to admire the ambivalent feelings it raised. I wasn’t sure whether to feel sorry for the, er, kitten (my choice of words, not a result of the Mallet), or to grumble about how he got off easier than he deserved. Of course, he lacked the context that we as readers have, but that’s an explanation, not an excuse, or so it appears to me.

    And there’s something a bit ominous about how the name of John Perry keeps getting invoked, in less and less complimentary language…

  11. Commenting on the first comment as an ex-broadcast engineer…
    A good quality studio camera has a *lot* of glass hanging off the front end, and a lot of what used to be in 19″ racks in an equipment room has moved to the camera end instead. Given that the optics bit can’t shrink much further and in fact may get bigger with higher definition frames, that doesn’t look over-sized for something that still needs someone standing behind it aiming it in the right direction. Within limits it’s also a lot easier to move a heavy stand across a studio floor smoothly than it is a light one.

  12. I really liked this episode. I can’t quite put my finger on how or why but reading it reminded me of all the reasons I like re-reading Leinster and Piper and, more recently, Randall Garrett (more recently for me, not him, obviously). Thank you for a great end to an otherwise pretty crappy day in here in Pakistan.

  13. I’m actaully enjoying this episodic thing more than I expected. Last night I was looking for something to read before bed, and couldn’t help thinking, “Wish it were Tuesday.”

  14. What I’m REALLY enjoying is the mosaic look, darting here and there in the universe. And I’m still thinking, “What the HELL?!!?!—“

  15. I am reminded of what the reaction to the serialized publication of The Count of Monte Cristo is said to have been: strangers talked to one another about the latest episode and everyone waited for the next chapter. I am having fun with this.

  16. I enjoyed this episode, but I admit to some (slight) disappointment. The main character’s arc seemed to me a bit cliched and obvious. Like shooting fish in a barrel. Or is that part of the takeway — that his fate is a little too neat & clean for us not to be suspicious of it?

  17. Read it last night (yay time zones meaning I get it at 9:00 PM Monday night — bedtime story!) and this is the first time someone got malleted in this book that I wasn’t sorry for. So that was a nice change.

  18. Thought to ponder, Should this book(s) be nominated for a Hugo could it stand within the novel category, and could individual releases be nominated in the short story category.

    Yes, its a serialized novel, but the topics are wildly divergent at least at this point.

  19. Wow, Jeff L. That is a thing to ponder about indeed. My instinct says that since it was all written at the same time and will soon come out in a whole lump, it’d be a novel. However, back in the day when novels were often fix-ups of magazine stories, the pieces parts would have been easily nominated for short story or novelette.

  20. This is all good stuff, so here is my “layman talking to the professional” advice. I call it the “Bobby Shaftoe” problem. Stephenson created one of the great literary characters of all time, and then killed him off! You gotta not do that to your interesting characters, and this guy had a future right up until you killed him.

    That is all. I’ll give you another 99 cents worth next week.

  21. Anthony Frost: thanks for the explanation. I’d started idly wondering “why are TV cameras still this big when my camcorder is way tiny?” when I opened the piece this morning.

  22. Hate to spoil everyone’s fun, but at the end of the HD series everybody dies.

    You see, the ginormous black hole at the center of the galaxy becomes unstable and sucks the whole galaxy into it.

    Sorry John.

  23. Enjoyed the Earth-based episode. However, it seems if you aren’t a main character and have your own plot line, you will very shortly end up dead. If you were to split The B-Team into two parts, then every odd chapter has the central viewpoint dying.

  24. John, as I read this (twice!) last night I realized why I enjoy your writing so much. You blogged once that you try to write accessible science fiction, and that’s what I’m liking. These stories are giving me things to think about but they’re not written in a way that “makes me think.” By comparison, Pat Rothfuss (whose stuff I LOVE, don’t get me wrong) makes my brain work a lot harder for its entertainment. Your writing style, IMO, lends itself well to this serialized release, since it can more easily be picked up and put down. If I’m going to read Pat’s stuff, I need to be completely focused and sharp.

    Thanks again for the entertainment.

  25. Is there some issue with Audible UK? the last 3 were released on tuesdays but no episode 4 yet. Really want it in audiobook as Dufris is the voice of the old mans war universe to me!

  26. Re: the camera… aside from the hand grip thing on the back and the viewfinder that camera looks pretty much like the robotics in the studio where I work. There’s actually more stuff on the front of them (prompter hood, monitor, etc).

    In the story itself… the complete potty mouth on the on air person rang very very true. Newsrooms/control rooms are incredibly un-PC places!

    Also, I’m kind of agreeing with Ron Grant up near the top of the thread. Waiting a week in between parts is very un-fun!

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