The Human Division, Episode Ten: This Must Be the Place is Now Live!

Tuesday! We greet you again in all your second-day-of-the-work-week-ness! And with a new episode of The Human Division: “This Must Be the Place.” Let’s find out what it’s about:

Colonial Union diplomat Hart Schmidt is back home for Harvest Day celebrations—to a family whose members wonder whether its youngest son isn’t wasting his life clinging to the lowest rung of the CU’s diplomatic ladder. When his father, a legendarily powerful politician, presents him with a compelling offer, Schmidt has to take stock of his life and career.

This episode will be interesting to see how people respond to, because this episode isn’t particularly “science fictional” — with the exception of a self-driving car, there’s very little tech that would be out of place today or situations that make you feel like you’re in the future. What it is, however, is a character study of one of the series’ most important characters: Hart Schmidt. Schmidt’s more than Harry Wilson’s sidekick and straight man, after all — he’s got his own reasons for doing things and for being in the diplomatic corps.

The excellent thing about the episodic nature of The Human Division is that it allows me to explore things in this manner in a way that I might not otherwise in a novel structure. It’s nice to give Schmidt his moment in the sun, and give him a context that makes everything that happens to him in the novel — and what will happen to him — a new depth.

Plus, this episode has at least a couple of my favorite lines of dialogue in the whole thing. That’s a plus too.

This is an episode that I suspect could benefit from folks talking about it a bit, so if you have thoughts about it (and especially if you liked it), feel free to review or comment about it on Amazon/Goodreads/your blog. Every little bit will help. And thank you! Also, of course, there will be the weekly discussion on, which I will post to as soon as I see it’s up (update: It’s up! Also read the first comment, which contains extra quotes from me).

Next week we begin the final three episodes of the book, and it starts with a bang: The Clarke in a space battle. It’s “A Problem of Proportion,” and it’s one of the key episodes of the novel. Don’t miss it!

This Must Be the Place: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBookstore|Google Play|Kobo|Audible (audiobook) (all links US)

P.S.: Yes, the title comes from this:

Which is one of my favorite songs from the Talking Heads, and one of the best songs of the 80s, in my opinion.

32 Comments on “The Human Division, Episode Ten: This Must Be the Place is Now Live!”

  1. I really like these generally unspoilered descriptions. I’m waiting for the dead-tree version but my interest is piqued further each week.

  2. You know you have a problem when you haven’t been getting enough sleep lately but you look at the clock at 11:15 and think, “If I stay up another 45 minutes…”

  3. Funny, I have friends who live in Terrebonne! (Earth version of course).

    I’ll see Schmidt as less cardboardy next time I read about him in the other episodes. I like it.

  4. My favorite line “I helped electrocute a dog in order to save a peace negotiation” made me laugh out loud. At my desk. Where I was reading it during work. Had to mask it as a cough.

  5. Did you know your dedication page list “The Web Class of 1987”? Otherwise, this episode, along with all the others is really great!

  6. I was a bit surprised that you resisted the temptation to conclude the dog anecdote with “…he got better”, what with the other dialog homages. Poor Tuffy, he got turned into a newt.

  7. I really liked it. It’s kind of like the calm before the storm. The pause before the shit starts hitting the fan. That’s my guess at least. There’s only three episodes left. There has to be some poo oscillation coming soon.

  8. I really like the yellow spaceship thing. Those wheels are tiny and huge at the same time. Kudos to John Harris!

    E Signore Scalzi? It’s weird but every book I have of yours is an ebook. I think I’m going to change that by getting the hardback of Human Division when it publishes.

  9. I am with Charles, I am waiting for the hardback, but I have to admit the titles are really intriguing.

  10. Scalzi you magnificent bastard! Like I didn’t have reason to like you enough already, then you go and reference this fantastic song as your episode title. Absolutely one of the best (and obtuse) love songs ever written, and one of the tentpoles of Stop Making Sense. Thank you for your continued awesomeness.

  11. I loved it. I like stories where you know where the characters are coming from…

  12. I really enjoyed this one. Also starting to love the joy of getting a new chapter every week. I stop whatever I’m listening at the moment (Cloud Atlas) and listen to the chapter.

    A question, same as gleonguerrero’s. Will the artwork be in the hardcover? I especially like this one. Or prints, that can be framed.

  13. I loved this story. No real spoilers ahead, but if you haven’t read the piece you might want to skip this.

    1. Plus, this episode has at least a couple of my favorite lines of dialogue in the whole thing. That’s a plus too.

    Until the final scene I thought you just meant the family dialogue (which, btw, was hilarious as always). Then I read that scene. Does every child dream of being able to say something like that to his parents?

    2. It’s nice to give Schmidt his moment in the sun, and give him a context that makes everything that happens to him in the novel — and what will happen to him — a new depth.

    Some others here have complained that the serial writing has been disjointed, that there doesn’t seem to be much holding the stories together. IMO, Hart’s words at the end serve to tie it all up. They definitely lent perspective on everything that’s gone before.

    But “happen to him”? Uh oh, now you have me worried, especially when you say the next story has the Clarke in a space battle.

  14. It did indeed have a different feel, which is not a bad thing.

    One of the moments that stood out for me was Hart giving his little “what I did last summer” rundown… well this ridiculous thing happened, and the serious thing, oh and that thing that was both ridiculous and serious. Which for me is part of why OMW in general is such a wonderful universe, it blends the ridiculous with the serious and neither seems out of place.

  15. “It middles badly for the dog” made me snarf with laughter.

    Also, I believe most of us in US/Can. have had that Thanksgiving dinner. And the endless transit transfers to get somewhere.

    It’s nice to see a settled, prosperous CU planet. Nobody’s struggling against aliens or bad climate; they have time for politics and poets. There’s a long history, and some people are friggin’ rich and others not so.

  16. Couple of comments.

    Overall I quite like your writing.

    But (you saw that coming, right?) … I’m not entirely thrilled with this book. I feel short-changed after each episode and have to remind myself if I was reading all 13 at once, I probably wouldn’t feel that way.

    So for me that means that next time I will wait til the book is out in a complete form.

    Also, regarding today’s episode.

    No issues w/lack of SciFi.

    My issue is I’m left wondering, what, if anything, just happened? I guess I read it too quickly, but I saw no plot advancement, and only a bit of character development.

    Again, in a full-length book, this would probably not been noticed so acutely.

    Finally, when I read this sentence I thought to myself: “I bet he could take this one back for one final rewrite.” Either that, or I missed something (wouldn’t be the first time!)

    “The children’s wing of the house was no less appointed but arranged differently.”

    Full quote for context:

    Hart found his father, Alastair Schmidt, in his home office, situated in his parents’ wing of the third floor, which included their bedroom, its master bath suite, attached and separate wardrobes, individual offices, library and drawing room. The children’s wing of the house was no less appointed but arranged differently.

    Anyway, hope this is helpful feedback.

  17. I didn’t think I would like the episodic nature of this book, but I’ve been waiting for each new episode eagerly. Tuesdays are fun again! While this ep wasn’t my favorite (too much a Harry Wilson fan for that) I appreciated that you inserted Hart into his natural (original) environment. Maybe you can’t go home again, exactly, but it’s a perfect method for expressing how Hart Schmidt has grown as a person over the last several years. Harry is such a LARGE personality that Hart sometimes appears small. Yet, we see his dedication, intelligence, good sense and commitment. His Harvest Day toast was emotionally very satisfying. Let’s face it: we NEED Hart Schmidts in this universe!

  18. The only thing I didn’t like about the 10th episode was that there was only 3 episodes left when I finished.

    I know you have lots of glowing irons in the fire, and I know you don’t want to overuse the OMW universe, but I do hope there’ll be a Season 2 someday.

  19. Short but sweet, and a good sidelight on Hart. I enjoyed the transport details early on – soooo clearly based on experience!

  20. John, quick note: there’s a typo in your sidebar where THD episode 10 is featured. It says this:

    This Must Be the Placwe: …

  21. I love that TH’s idea of a “light show” was to have David Byrne dancing with a floor lamp.

    Oh, I found the episode quietly moving, as well.

  22. This episode felt like Old Man’s War meets Downton Abbey. I was a bit let down. But it’s back to the Clarke next week!

  23. To me, this episode felt like an indrawn breath before a leap. The pause necessary to prepare us for action to come. It felt necessary to give some background to this character so that we’d understand and empathize with actions that are sure to follow. It felt like one of those episodes of a good television show that didn’t seem all that important when you watched it, but became one of the most important of the series when seen as part of the whole.

    I’m eagerly awaiting the rest of the episodes!

  24. I quite liked this episode. The dirtside episodes (this one and Voice In The Wilderness) have caught my attention by virtue of not being about heroes, but about people. Politics, family, disappointment – they are in their own way as vital to the story as the Skip Drive and the Empee.
    John, reading this ( today certainly made me think about diplomacy, politics, and the very personal choice to look at the big picture and take on problems beyond your own. I think This Must Be The Place had a very timely release.

  25. I’ve seen several comments, here and on Amazon, saying that nothing happened in this story.

    For the first time, Hart is the protagonist, and we see inside HIS head, and oh yeah get his perspective on events all the way back to After The Coup, and we learn a lot more in a short space about a key character who has mostly been background so far. That ain’t nothing.

  26. I love your books. I’ve reviewed your books with pleasure. I’ve recommended your books to book clubs who have never read science fiction before (and they loved it). I love the Human Division, I strongly dislike the episodic nature of this story. And why couldn’t you have picked Mondays to release the episodes? I already like Tuesdays, I hate Mondays.

%d bloggers like this: