Welcome to the Tor.com read-along for John Scalzi’s The Human Division—each week, as a new episode in this serialized novel is released, you can use this space to talk about how you think the story’s going so far and put forward your theories about where it might be headed. You’ll also get behind-the-scenes info from Scalzi, as well as the occasional insight from his editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden… and maybe a few other special guest stars along the way.
Warning: Although I’ll strive to err on the side of caution when I talk about each episode’s plot points, this read-along is meant to be a zone where people who have already read the story can talk about it with each other. Expect spoilers.
Okay, then! Let’s talk about Episode 10, “This Must Be the Place.”
This was a “quiet” week for The Human Division: no life-threatening situations, no new developments in the rift between Earth and the Colonial Union, no threats from aliens or saboteurs. (I gave Scalzi a week off from my questions, but rest assured he’ll be back next week.) And yet, in its own way, “This Must Be the Place” delivers one of the most captivating stories of the season so far.
In this episode, Hart Schmidt takes a break from being Harry Wilson’s mildly clueless sidekick and steps into the spotlight during a holiday family reunion on Phoenix, the largest (and oldest surviving) human colony in outer space. And we learn, among other things, that while Hart may seem mildly clueless when standing next to Harry (or Ambassador Abumwe, for that matter), he’s actually a savvy and capable young man from an established political family that’s convinced he’s wasting his time and his talents in the Colonial Union. As his father, one of the most powerful politicians on the planet, puts it, “They stuck you with a diplomatic team that’s been catching lost cause missions for years, and assigned you to a CDF grunt who uses you for menial tasks.”
That’s one way of looking at it. Hart applies another perspective to what he admits “has been an eventful year,” positioning himself at the front of a crisis that will determine the future of the Colonial Union—and humanity—in space. Is he a nice guy who’s in a little over his head? Maybe. But if we’ve learned anything from Harry and Ambassador Abumwe and Captain Coloma these last two months, it’s that finding yourself in over your head can be a powerful motivation to come up with new ways of solving your problems.
One thing I like about this episode is that it gives us a breather from the previous four high-tension installments of The Human Division—granted, “The Dog King” was played for comedy, but the stakes were still intense—and gives us a sense of just what the Colonial Union is fighting so hard to protect: not just a set of colonies, but a way of life. I’m also going to assume, although I haven’t been reading ahead, that we’re going to need this brief rest before the buildup to the “season finale,” which is just three weeks away. (Have we really been at it this long?) Let’s see if I’m right next week, when Scalzi delivers Episode 11, “A Problem of Proportion.”
Purchase and read The Human Division, episode 10: “This Must Be The Place,” at:
Art by John Harris.
Ron Hogan is a big Scalzi fan from way back. He just launched a new website called The Handsell, where he recruits authors and indie booksellers to make reading recommendations for people based on books they already love.