The Human Division, Episode Three: We Only Need the Heads is Now Live!

Hey! Weren’t you just saying that you were wishing it were Tuesday, so you could get the next episode of The Human Division? Well, now it’s Tuesday, and now “We Only Need the Heads” is available for your perusal — nay, fervent enjoyment. This one’s about 9.9k words (i.e., close to the average size of an episode). What’s this one all about? I’ll quote from the Episode description:

CDF Lieutenant Harry Wilson has been loaned out to a CDF platoon tasked with secretly removing an unauthorized colony of humans on an alien world. Colonial Ambassador Abumwe has been ordered to participate in final negotiations with an alien race the Union hopes to make allies. Wilson and Abumwe’s missions are fated to cross—and in doing so, place both missions at risk of failure.

Exciting. Also, those of you who were curious about how “Walk the Plank,” last week’s episode, might tie into the story with Wilson, Schmidt and Abumwe, you’ll find some answers here. Some. Heh heh heh heh.

Here’s a fun bit of trivia for you: A portion of this episode (Wilson’s shuttle ride) was the very first bit I wrote in all of The Human Division. Not because it was originally meant to be the start of the book but because I needed to get back into Harry Wilson’s head, and that scene was a nice way of doing it. Once I got that, I was back into the Old Man’s War universe, and then we were off to the races, as it were.

As always, there’s a discussion of the episode over at, so after you’ve read the episode, go on over and learn some more “behind the scenes” details.

Remember also to tune in next week for “A Voice in the Wilderness,” in which we’ll visit a mysterious planet called… Earth. I know! Who even goes there anymore, right?

We Only Need the Heads: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBookstore|Google Play|Kobo| Audible (audio) (all US links)

41 Comments on “The Human Division, Episode Three: We Only Need the Heads is Now Live!”

  1. We Only Need the Heads?

    Well, I suppose that’s right.

    That particular page is relatively safe for work. Before and after it…. not so much….

    a CDF platoon tasked with secretly removing an unauthorized colony of humans on an alien world.

    Removing illegal settlers? Nice. If the settlers are specifically trying to do a slow invasion and take the land from the aliens and their presence is likely to cause a violent alien reaction and the settlers are so self righteous that they would view a violent alien reaction as a totally unprovoked attack, then I just have one thing to say to that:

    fucking sweet

  2. I have just downloaded it. Yay, Tuesdays! ;-

    I am loving these weekly releases and liked Walk the Plank very much. Intriguing and sad. Looking forward to this one…

    (by the way, I bought it on Kobo for €0.91. And I am in the Netherlands, where Amazon also charges over three dollars per episode. Can the Scandinavians also buy it from Kobo for the ‘normal’ price?)

  3. I got the first episode from Audible for free (last day is today, I think). Then I purchased the second episode and then advanced ordered the remaining episodes. Off to download the latest release.

  4. There’s an identity swap when [minor spoiler] Ting first asks Abumwe about Zala’s appendix. You mention Wilson sitting next to Abumwe. It should be Schmidt. Since it’s in e-book, will we get the typo update automatically?

  5. I’m always interested to read about authors “getting into a character’s head”. That’s such an essential part of writing fiction, and it’s also completely alien to me — I could never successfully write fiction — so I’m always fascinated when good fiction writers talk about it.

  6. Kudos! But just out of curiosity, how do you feel about sharing your narrator with Newt Gingrich (To be fair, you are also sharing him with F. Scott Fitzgerald, so perhaps it evens out.)

  7. Heh. 9.9k words at 99 cents, now there’s a fun correlation (though probably would sound better if expressed as “two word hundreds per tuppence, guv’na”). I jest, of course.
    Anywho. The compilation should be roughly 130k words, then? Not too shabby at all, in such case.

    Onto a more serious point – after this episodical run is done, it probably will be interesting to see how this pattern of release stands up against the more traditional models (esp. in terms of gradual falloff)… Would love to see a recap post similar to the recently-made distribution platform comparison.

  8. My first thought reading that episode’s title was… “so said Schlock Mercenary That made a shitty day so much better.

    (I’m currently sitting this out for spoilers – haven’t finished the other Old Man’s War books yet, but I am really looking forward to reading this, now even more.)

  9. After my blunder last week missing the line that Walk the Plank was short and I was complaining it was 28% the length of the double length prologue, I’m glad to report these week’s episode is 169% the length of Walk the Plank, and so compensates for my feeling of being short changed.

    I have yet to listen to the episode yet, so I’m avoiding from reading more descriptions for now, but I’m sure it will be thrilling.

  10. I’ve been waiting and waiting for this but now it’ll have to wait – I’m halfway through “Bowl of Heaven” by Gregory Benford and Larry Niven. Arrrrrrgh! Still it shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.

  11. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the episodic experiment, but now that I’m done with the third I have to admit it’s like eating a banana split with a toothpick. I mean, it tastes great but I don’t know if I can handle such small portions. When you did Old Man’s War on whatever, how much did you put on and what was the interval in between?

  12. I’ve been trying to hold this back, but I can no longer. THESE UNAUTHORIZED COLONIES ARE RUINING IT FOR THE REST OF US FULLY AUTHORIZED COLONIES! (If there were a setting for double double caps, I would have used that.) My colony has been sanctioned (the good kind) for almost 23 cycles now. I have to admit, it’s pretty sweet. I’m only complaining because of the pro-unauthorized colony slant this blog has taken over the past several weeks. It’s unfair and must stop. #TEAMAUTHORIZEDCOLONIES.

  13. In a more serious mode, I think I really like the serialization. I’m a pretty busy person, so carving out enough time to read a book takes some doing (in between meetings, rehearsals, social events, etc.). But the episodes are at just the right size for me to read in one sitting…and the episodic nature makes each sitting to be satisfying in and of itself.

    Is it NEXT Tuesday yet?

  14. The only problem I see is, it’s like an amuse bouche. OMG it’s sooo tasty, but then there’s only one bite and you have to wait for the next mouthful of delicious.

  15. I wish I hadn’t started reading this… I gulp books down in a day or maybe two (for a dull book.) A chapter a week may just kill me. I hope you are proud of yourself Scalzi…

  16. John, out of curiosity, do you find your a linearly or nonlinear writer? (Do you often start out a story with scenes out of order and figure out where they fit int he plot later or do you usually plow straight through form beginning to end?

  17. [Deleted because this assjack is about as clever as a Popsicle stick up the nose — JS]

  18. A nice build on the previous episodes, especially Walk the Plank. Loved the fleshing out of both Abumwe & Schmidt’s characters. As a side note, “Wan Neuroticism” is not just the name of my next band, but should be the name of an entire musical genre.

  19. Enjoying the story, hating the wait between chapters. It’s kind of like all-you-can-eat popcorn shrimp being individually hand-carried to your table by a waiter who has a lot of time on his hands. Tasty, but frustrating.

  20. Just before the halfway mark, I’ve reached the punch line (the reason for the title).

    Nice work, Scalzi!

    (And sorry for the extra post above – I hit return by mistake and can’t seem to remove it.)

  21. It’s not Tuesday, dammit, it’s WEDNESDAY !!! ,Australia is so far advanced that it’s Wednesday here when it’s only Tuesday there (wherever you are). This means that I have to wait till Wednesday. All because you can’t live in the right time zone.

    Also, some bloke named Scalzi is dropping spoilers about where the next installment will staged.

  22. I think I’m starting to get the hang of this episode business. The download becomes available from Amazon UK sometime in the morning and I can Kindle it up in that instant gratification way that we do these days. Then I take myself out to lunch for some quality time. Bukowski at Shoreditch BoxPark yesterday. Yum. Oh, and John Perry: wtf? ( if anyone’s in the City and interested)

  23. The beauty of the episodes is that I finish one and immediately start re-reading previous episodes to refresh myself on the secondary characters like Egan and Rigney.

    The down-side of the episodes is that I finish one and immediately start re-reading previous to refresh myself on the secondary characters like Egan and Rigney. John Scalzi, you’re ruining my sleep patterns!

  24. This was the first episode I could rate five stars. Good job!

    I’m sorry, I’m listening to the audiobooks and I just can’t handle Dufris’ narration. I had to rate the first two four stars instead, which makes me sad. If he somehow grows on me over the course of the series I’ll go back and rerate, but I doubt it. :(

  25. Man, Dufris is really reading the Hell out of these. This is the first of his voice-work I’ve heard (and so the first OMW work that I’ve listened to rather than reading on the page), and I am a convert. He perfectly complements Scalzi’s ever-delightful prose.

    I don’t think I’d met Wilson before (he appears in a short story but not any of the earlier novels, I think?) and I’m coming to adore him – cynical, yet patiently accepting, like a man who knows well that it’s not worth getting mad at the tides.

    These are great as a weekly download. Although I’m not convinced the storytelling itself quite captures the feel of a weekly TV series (it still feels like chapters in a novel), I’m loving the meta-experience of getting that “your preorder is now available” e-mail from Audible each week, and seeing a little burst of excitement on the intertubes as others react similarly. I’m loving the slow, communal unfolding of the story.

  26. Absolutely loving it!
    My only issue with the episodic release structure- as an Alaskan, I get the B&N notification of my new download at 8:00 pm (midnight eastern) on Monday evening- but I can’t get to the actual story until Tuesday!!! I even tried to change the settings on my Nook to eastern time… but no joy.
    Oh well- it’s still worth the wait!

  27. Hi John,
    Am looking forward to more about Abumwe. Lots of banked coals there just waiting to light something or somebody up. Plenty of room for subtlety and dirks too.

  28. Delayed question that just hit me, regarding the timeline of the whole thing.

    Obviously, “The B-Team” takes place after John Perry’s return to Earth in The Last Colony, but then there’s the epilogue, which appears to take place several months later (long enough for General Szilard to get a more natural-looking body cooked up, which takes about four months if I remember the discussion in The Ghost Brigades properly).

    Is there some overlap in time between the end of The Last Colony and the beginning of The Human Division?

    (If there is, then is it cheating to re-read the last chapter of The Last Colony to get a fuzzy glimpse into the future of The Human Division? Because otherwise the suspense might kill me before next week’s episode is delivered…)

  29. @Bruce K: From what I remember of the epilogue to TLC, the Earth governments hadn’t yet decided whether to stop supplying colonists and soldiers to the CU (the U.S. government was still holding hearings). Yet, from the “scaring the children” speech in “The B-Team,” it’s pretty clear that Earth has formally given the CU the finger at that point. So I’d guess the setting of “The B-Team” and the rest of THD is somewhat after the events of the epilogue.

    Got all three episodes thus far. To quote Willy Wonka, “The suspense is terrible! I hope it’ll last.”