The Human Division, Episode Nine: The Observers is Now Live
Posted on March 12, 2013 Posted by John Scalzi 31 Comments
I have been informed by a source who I believe to be reliable that today once again is Tuesday. Which means it’s time for another episode of The Human Division! This one is “The Observers,” in which — surprise! — there is a crisis to be dealt with:
In an effort to improve relations with the Earth, the Colonial Union has invited a contingent of diplomats from that planet to observe Ambassador Abumwe negotiate a trade deal with an alien species. Then something very bad happens to one of the Earthings, and with that, the relationship between humanity’s two factions is on the cusp of disruption once more. It’s a race to find out what really happened, and who is to blame.
I like this episode a lot because among other things it introduces on my favorite new characters in the Old Man’s War universe: Danielle Lowen, a diplomat from Earth. I could tell you why I like her, but I think that would ruin the fun of discovering it for yourself. And I would hate to ruin your fun. Because then you would come up to me, point your finger and proclaim “FUN RUINER” before stalking away. And that would be awkward after the first couple dozen times. So let me just say that I think you will like her.
As always, there will be a discussion of the episode over at Tor.com today, and I’ll post a link as soon as I know it’s up (edit: It’s here!); and if you feel like giving the episode a review on whatever places you like to review writing, well, that would be groovy with me, too.
Tune in next week for “This Must Be The Place,” which has Hart Schmidt stepping into an unusual role for him: protagonist.
The Observers: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBookstore|Google Play|Kobo|Audible (audioboook) (All links US)
I haven’t finished yet, so what I say is only speculation: you say you like the new character Lowen. Then I guess if the something bad happening is the death of an earthling, then I guess she’s not the one who dies?
Mmh Laphroaig. Some day I’ma gonna visit Scotland.
I am confident I am amongst the very first here in the UK to have to read this. I am also confident this episode is amongst the strongest of the lot (and my favourite since The B-Team). It feels like The Observers has even more layers to it than usual. You lot over the pond need to read this pronto and start discussing it. It has strengthened some of my theories and put some of my other theories in the bin.
John – I never thought i’d dig the series thing. I was very wrong. Tuesdays are now my favourite days.
I feel like an idiot for asking but will this eventually reach print? I find reading e-books maddening but reading Scalzi enthralling. What’s a cave-Chang to do?
May 14, Chang.
Thanks. Now follows the inevitable book tour and East Coast question. Wish we could get you up to Maine somehow.
I mean obviously plane, train and car can get here. But.. y’know.
Good choice of scotch, there.
This source of yours, the one who claims it’s Tuesday… it’s Daisy, isn’t it?
We know Zeus claims it’s always the weekend so he can send those smoldering looks to the ladies.
Ghlaghghee seems too relaxed to give a rip what day of the week it is.
And Lopsided Cat probably can’t read a calendar.
tsk tsk tsk.
“Répète, s’il vous plaît?” Mixing up second person singular and second person plural in the same sentence: it’s jarring and breaks the magic.
Should have been “Répétez, s’il-vous-plaît?”, all plural — the polite form.
Then again, Lowen _is_ messing with Wilson, so all that’s probably intentional … In any case, thanks for the series, it is a great read!
When the full compilation is published as a single book will it include the covers of all of the serial installments?
She did say it was “bad High School French.”
Dani Lowen is a young Harry Wilson with different fixtures. If you love his humor, you’ll adore hers. Wilson has finally found somebody who can not only take it but dish it out as well. Everyone on the bus this morning was watching me laugh out loud.
Arrrgh. I am really enjoying this. Question, when its over, will those of us who bought all 13 get a free copy of the book? I ask only for organization on my kindle reasons. I am really really enjoying this. It fits in well with the time demands on my life.
You do realize that from this point onward, probably until the day you die, at conventions and at book signings, you will be asked – nay, required! – to pronounce the Burfinor ambassador’s name?
I like Harry, but he sure does talk a lot. Loose lips cause hull breaches in ships (not quite as catchy, I know).
Another strong episode. I like to think (though I have no way to know if it’s true) that this is what it was like reading regular installment fiction in stuff like Asimov’s from the 50s and 60s. I remember reading some of my favorite SF (much of Niven’s ‘Known Space’ series in collected paperbacks) and realizing that most or all of them came out originally in installments.
This has that kind of feel…except here the stories keep building on each other, like episodes in a miniseries that is barreling towards a dramatic crescendo. I like the most that I’m not really sure where we’re going to end up. I mean, I expect certain things from the narrative in terms of providing a story resolution, but how it will resolve and how we’ll get there? An unexpected journey.
@WomanWhoWeaves: based on comments in a previous thread, no. However, the files are all DRM-free, and there are several free tools that let people make one big ebook file out of two or more smaller ones.
Yup, shipping Danielle and Harry big time. I don’t know if dating is possible given the planetary separation, but I’d root for it anyway. “Are you green… everywhere?”
Adorable. Yeah, she’s my new favorite too. The double snark is fantastic.
The story actually touches on something I’ve been pondering since OMW. Nice.
Any reason on not being more specific about the Burfinor’s morphology? eyestalks? scrotal like? I understand that it’s not plot-important this time but I’ve always liked the immaginative morphologyes of OMW’s universe various alien races.
Just finished reading … nice. Very nice.
One thing of note, since I’m ending up paying perhaps twice as much for this book as I would have paid if I waited for it to come out in print form, is that it hasn’t annoyed me that I am doing so.
Anyway. This has been an interesting model. John started with a completed work and parceled it out chapter by chapter. On the other hand, Amazon offers the Kindle Serial where you get a Dickens-esque subscription to a book in progress, with one chapter every week or so. As far as I can tell you pay up front, rather than every time a new chapter is released.
So I’ve just purchased one such Kindle Serial (for two bucks, which seems rather low if the author is going to fulfill the one-a-week promise) and I find it to be at least as good in quality as many urban fantasies, but perhaps, in a few places, slightly self-indulgent. Any problems it has are things that would have been addressed by an editor.
On yet another manipulatory appendage, Mr. Scalzi began by designing a series of short stories that work as stand-alone contributions to an ongoing story; other than a familiarity with the Old Man’s War story universe, and that’s mostly for fuller understanding, there is no explicit requirement that anyone know what’s going on to buy one of these chapters. That’s hard to do. I’m suspecting that the latest episode “The Observers” is one of the least stand-alone since it carries a bit of plot-turning for the overall plot of the book that these are eventually part of. I’ve got a half dozen suspicions but insufficient evidence to take any of them to any kind of a conclusion. Well done.
At this point my only gripe with this process is that Amazon has a truly crappy, horrible, primitive method for arranging collections with their Android app, and as a side issue, it’s really stupid that Amazon Prime has the Kindle Library but disallows it on anything that isn’t a branded Kindle. Makes me kinda not want to buy more from them, as I consider having to pay for Prime already enough of a barrier. Or maybe I’ll just drop the Prime. But as for this thread? All that is feedback about the publisher.
So what’s the odds-making on this CU setup being the CU doing a double head-fake?
I read the episodes as bedtime stories — literally, I turn on the reader, download as I’m brushing my teeth, and off to bed — and thus warm fuzzy feelings are guaranteed. Also, Monday is slogged through by thinking “Yay NEW EPISODE TONIGHT!”
I did LOL at the description of the Burfinor ambassador’s name, since (let’s face it) that’s what all of us were thinking when we read it.
Thank you, Scalzi, for making the new, cool character from Colorado. I enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed that the clueless government functionary back in episode 4 was from Montana. Now, if I could just figure out how to get you to add a Denver stop to your next book tour.
Very nice. By the way, if one of your goals is to build frustration to record levels, mark that down as a success. Waiting for each successive Tuesday gets harder and harder all the time. Grr!
Love Dani Lowen. The interplay between her and Harry is laugh out loud entertaining. I hope she shows up in future episodes. Harry needs someone to give him as good as he gives others.
For some reason, I see her as a redhead. Probably says more about me….
Interesting coincidence, the Conclave being a major faction in this book, while the other Conclave is currently meeting in Rome.
I think it would be nice if we could make an effort to come up to you and call you “Fun Ruiner!” anyway.
I’m loving how you’re getting deep into the weeds on the tech without it taking over the entire storyline, just building on previous mentions. I did a bit of speculation earlier that in retrospect might not be the best thing to do on your forum, so if that was of the slightest annoyance I apologize.
Loving The Human Division, I only started last week but I have as many as I can on pre-order so far. Loved Fuzzy Nation, Redshirts and all of the OMW series. Thank you.
Carbon monoxide irreversiblly binds hemoglobin turning it red. CO victims are cherry red, not blue. A trivial detail I know, but noticeable to Pathologists fans.