Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen ! Bonsoir Mesdammes et Messieurs ! This is captain of the ship I. S. S. Rover speaking. We have just arrived to Phoenix system. It’s 20:54 local time, as provided by the space station above the planet we are orbiting right now. If you are planning to make a planetfall, keep in mind that it’s night time down there. The weather is mild: 16 °C, with virtually no wind, and the skies are clear, no rain whatsoever. Have fun ! However, if you decide not to take a trip downtown feel free to join me in the lounge where I will be discussing the next in the line episode of John Scalzi’s The Human Division. Captain out and over.
Another week has passed, so it’s time for the next installment of The Human Division read project.So let me break down in couple of words what to expect, if you hadn’t read any of the previous posts in this series ( you can find the links to those at the end of this post ). Last year John Scalzi’s The Human Division was published as a kind of a serialized novel, totaling thirteen chapters that were released in a weekly fashion from 15th january to 9th april. And I am trying to recreate this experience by reading the book in the same tempo: one chapter a week. I am curious how this works out, how does the story and the reading experience evolve, as in case of earlier Scalzi novels I couldn’t stop reading, I finished the books almost in one sitting, running from cover to cover in less then twenty-four hours.
So lets get it on, and see what offers the fifth episode: Tales from the Clarke. It was originally published on February 12, 2013. After the previous cover, we again have one showing one or more spaceships. Ones that are landing somewhere in the middle of nowhere on galactic scale. There are some weird branching structures against a backdrop of a starry sky. And though these structures don’t make much sense, the painting does convey a sense of loneliness, of being abandoned, which is true for the Colonial Union at this point in the story. And the shade of the background colour seems to have changed once again; not much but still I’m pondering whether there is a meaning behind it. But as I have no new thought on this matter, lets continue to the next step, the description blurb of this episode:
Captain Sophia Coloma of the Clarke has a simple task: Ferry around representatives from Earth in an aging spaceship that the Colonial Union hopes to sell to them. But nothing is as simple as it seems, and Coloma discovers the ship she’s showing off holds surprises of its own…and it’s not the only one with secrets.
After the first episode we get to meet captain Coloma – or maybe former captain – of The Clark. With her ship being decommissioned, she is in tight spot: there is an inquiry about her actions taken in the first episode, and the signs are reading “TROUBLE AHEAD !” She gets an assignment she hardly can refuse: basically she is promoted to the equivalent of a sales person of used cars. And in this process she is reunited with our dear friend – and I would say protagonist, but at least narrator of our story – Harry Willson. They are to show an old ship to an Earth delegation, and to convince them that it is a fine ship to have. But not everything and everyone is what it seems to be. There is some turmoil, but it ends well, and captain Coloma gets her ship back.
At first it looked like we will be forced to endure the absence of Harry Willson, especially knowing what happened in the third episode, but Scalzi resolved that “problem” rapidly. But this time there ain’t much chance to enjoy Harry’s musings, we get only two short moments, both with captain Coloma. The star of this episode is Coloma, or maybe more so her new old ship. The engineer Basquez gets some “page time” too.
But all in all no major events in this chapter. We get some more information about “behind the scene” actions. And though these informations are presented believably, the way they are conveyed seem rather clumsy: a person in charge tells us what and why happened, a bit too directly to a person of no interest by the logic of the world. So it feels like the writer is talking down to us, the readers. This is something I didn’t expect from Mr. Scalzi, it is a tool used by inexperienced writers, and he ain’t new to the trade. So he maybe became lazy, or just ran out of inventive ideas, or both, and the deadline was pressing. But all in all this is a minor glitch. At least at this point. So I’m ready to let it slip, but also I will be more alert to spot it if used again. But not to forget, this is not the first glitch in this novel, there was already one in the third episode. So this is showing the marks of trending, which is not a good sign.
On the matter of plot points: I already mentioned a secretive organisation that is sabotaging the actions the leadership of the Colonial Union has decided on. Now that I had more time to think about it, maybe it is not an independent organisation, but maybe it is an inner opposition from the ranks of CDF: warmongers that ain’t ready to give up their old ways. Or maybe both. I will try not to sweat it. Damn you Scalzi !
And that would be it for this week folks. Join me next week on the next installment of adventures with Harry Willson and the gang. As the events are gearing up, my patience gets tested again, and again, but it still holds. I enjoyed this weeks read, though it was kinda the flattest of all I read till now. But I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, so good night and see you next week !