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arbieroo

Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Revenger
Alastair Reynolds
Progress: 218/432 pages
The Nightmare Stacks (A Laundry Files Novel)
Charles Stross
Life and Letters of Charles Darwin - Volume 1: By Charles Darwin - Illustrated
Charles Darwin
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Hero And Leander
Christopher Marlowe
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An Introduction to Magnetohydrodynamics
P.A. DAVIDSON, E.J. Hinch, S.H. Davis, Mark J. Ablowitz
Progress: 93/452 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 359/700 pages
Plasma physics
R.A. Cairns
Progress: 4/244 pages
Selected Short Stories - Conrad (Wordsworth Classics)
Keith Carabine, Joseph Conrad
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A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 108/1102 pages

The Human Division, John Scalzi

The Human Division - John Scalzi

OK, let's keep score:
Old Man's War: John Perry (smart-arse)
The Ghost Brigades: John Perry's girl friend (mostly non-descript, mildly bad-ass)
The Last Colony: John Perry and now wife (smart arse and stereotypical loving Mum, (still mildly bad-ass))
Zoe's Tale: Zoe Perry (smart-arse)
The Human Division: Wilson (smart-arse, seems to have had a personality transplant from John Perry)
Fuzzy Nation: A smart-arse lawyer
Lock-in: Disabled (but is he really? That's the point) son of an over-privileged businessman-politician.

 

5/7 good score if you like smart-arse characters (which I do - I loves me some Bugs Bunny) but maybe Scalzi should try for greater diversity? Well, he does so with this one, to some extent, because in this episodic novel we are treated not just to Wilson, but a collection of other protagonists and characters who's stories overlap and complement each other as each stand-alone story builds up a picture of what's going on in the galaxy after John Perry radically alters the political dynamics by surprising Earth with a 400+ strong trade delegation from the Conclave.

 

They're good, fun stories with an on-going central mystery that is unfortunately never resolved. The episodic structure reminds of the '60s era of SF where the pulp mags were the main revenue source and people would routinely write story sequences for serial magazine publication that would later be assembled with minimal to zero editing into a paperback novel for further income. The necessity for some kind of resolution in each component story made for slightly weird novels and this example (which was deliberately conceived of and released as a series of e-stories, initially) is no different. The component stories are all good and it does build to some kind of climactic denouement but there's no escaping that it's a bunch of shorts, really.