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The Human Division (Old Man's War #5)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  6,812 ratings  ·  639 reviews
Following the events of The Last Colony, John Scalzi tells the story of the fight to maintain the unity of the human race.

The people of Earth now know that the human Colonial Union has kept them ignorant of the dangerous universe around them. For generations the CU had defended humanity against hostile aliens, deliberately keeping Earth an ignorant backwater and a source o
Hardcover, 431 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Tor Books
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The Republic of Thieves by Scott LynchA Memory of Light by Robert JordanEmperor of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceThe Daylight War by Peter V. BrettThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Can't Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2013
38th out of 616 books — 3,196 voters
Ready Player One by Ernest ClineOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsAnathem by Neal StephensonAltered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Best Science Fiction of the 21st Century
236th out of 348 books — 3,101 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 09, 2013 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans, especially Scalzi fans
There are 13 "episodes" that author John Scalzi has broken this book down into, and they are being released weekly for the next few months. Instead of writing thirteen separate reviews, I will review each self-contained episode here, which will, eventually, be a review of this entire work.

'The B-Team'

Well this is certainly off to a hell of a start. Not only does Scalzi give the requisite background information on the "Old Man's War" universe without being boring or summarizing his previous book
Wendell Adams
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

I read The Human Division a few months ago. Since I thoroughly hated it, I tried to return it to the library where I got it from, put it out of my mind, and hope that after a few days/weeks/months, I’d have a more favorable view of it in hindsight. But that hasn’t really happened. Honestly, time has only cemented my personal dislike of this serialized novel, so please understand before you go further that I’m not really going to say anything favorable a
PART ONE - March 16


Is how each part of John Scalzi's experiment in Dickensian Science Fiction would end if the author had stuck to Chucky D's well-established method of chopping what we now know as classics into weekly or monthly episodes - "please sir - can I have some more?" Next week, child, next week - assuming you can pony up another 99c for Audible.

But no – Scalzi wants to have his cake, eat it and still have the abs of a Men's Health cover model. The Human Division c
Tom Negrino
Apr 10, 2013 Tom Negrino rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Scalzi fans, with caveats
I'm an unhappy customer after reading The Human Division in its serialized run. It was clear by around episode 8 that Scalzi would not be able to wrap up all the threads of the story, but (no spoilers) the book ends with an epic battle and no resolution of the main plot, and with smoking guns littering the stage. The day of the final episode's release, Scalzi announced that there was going to be a sequel (or perhaps sequels, given how he's likening The Human Division to a TV series), which he'd ...more
Fred Hughes
Author John Scalzi has answered our wishes to read more stories based on the Old Man’s War series with this book of 13 superb short stories in that universe. While each story is a stand alone story our protagonists appear in most of the stories.

The back ground to the stories for those not yet enlightened by the Old Man’s War series is that when you reach 75 years old you can join the CDF and have your consciousness transferred into a young body with enhanced capabilities. The main condition to t
Consider this experiment a success, I think.

The Human Division is the fifth novel set in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War universe, but it can be read on its own if you are so inclined (although I highly recommend reading the first three books–they are wonderful).

The experiment I’m referring to is that The Human Division was initially released as thirteen separate ‘episodes’ at set intervals, and then collected together in ‘novel’ form and released as a hardcover. I say this was an experiment because

This latest entry into what will probably turn out to be a long-running multi-publication series (that started with the entertaining Old Man's War) is vintage Scalzi. Mr. Scalzi, who apparently hasn't found a gag line that was beyond inclusion in his books, sprinkles The Human Division with his brand of humorous, irreverent, quirky and inventive story-telling. Whether for marketing purposes or for novelty, the author has chosen to piece this book together from episodes of short story length that

Matthew Hester
I think Scalzi has just solidified what the future of the publishing industry looks like. Gone are the days where 1400 page epics can wait for years to be released (GRR Martin, i'm looking at you) as consumers want immediate payouts on investments in this instant gratification society we exist in.
While constructing a coherent story that is broken out into individual segments can be difficult, it allows for a unique way to explore aspects of the story that might otherwise been ignored and present
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4.5 stars. Back when I first started getting into reading more sci-fi, John Scalzi's Old Man's War series was a great starting point. The books had just the right mix of space travel, aliens and futuristic technology, but were still light enough not to intimidate a relative newcomer to the genre. Now they still rank among some of my favorite books of all time.

So when I found out about Scalzi's new serialized novel based on the Old Man's War universe, I became all excited and got set to pick up t
Well then, that was a thing.

So, the easy bits. This was typical Scalzi, and I say that in a good way. This was amusing, interesting and engrossing sci-fi in a universe that I already love, by and author I also already love. If you like Scalzi, you'll like this. If you don't, you won't.

There. Now that that's out of the way.

This was, as Scalzi has said in several places, somewhat of an experiment. The individual "episodes" (chapters) were released weekly, and the intention was for them to stand al
Alex Ristea
I read this hardcover edition all in one go, but really it's a collection of short stories that reads like a novel.

As is the nature of short stories, sometimes the reader feels too distant from the story, but thankfully The Human Division is closer to the novel form.

That being said, I was impressed by how Scalzi took advantage of the medium, and changed his writing style between stories. There was some clever authorial experimentation, and it worked.

It's a more serious look at the issues starte
Fantasy Literature
The Human Division is a fast-paced roller coaster of a book. At the Nebula Awards this weekend in San Jose, California, John Scalzi politely informed me that this was the fifth book in a series, which starts with Old Man’s War. I haven’t read the other four (which I will be correcting soon) but I understood pretty well what was going on in this universe, although I may have missed some nuance.

The Colonial Union left earth to colonize space about two hundred years ago. During that time, space-far
Tim Williams
The BEST I can give it is a 3. What we have here is a TV show (that has never been made) presented in novel form. Each chapter an episode, and the flimsiest of thread connecting them into a seasonal arc - that was left unresolved. The last chapter comes up short as the cliff-hanger episode.

And now its been green-lighted for a second "season" - Scalzi's own words. Is it his goal to break out a TV show (probably Syfy - ugh) by introducing this text and then saying to the powers that be "Look, bui
Curtis Edmonds
When I was young, I'd occasionally hear my grandfather refer to something-or-other - usually a stray dog - as a "duke's mixture," which I figured out from context meant "a little of this and a little of that." The term refers to a brand of tobacco put out by the Duke family - of Duke University fame, you understand, and there's a large estate near where I live in central New Jersey called Duke Farms. Anyway, this tobacco was apparently made up of pieces of this and that, and the name lives on as ...more
Beth Cato
This is so far into the series that it's difficult to say anything without it being a spoiler. Suffice to say, this is another solid volume in a fantastic science fiction story. Scalzi writes deep political intrigue with aliens and humans, with humans often as the most villainous at all... though in this book, that's not quite clear anymore. There's another enemy lurking in the shadows and the ending leaves the issue as a frustrating mystery.

I really enjoy Scalzi's dialogue--he does great banter
I finished the book in two big gulps in the evening. It certainly reads fine straight through, except the episodic nature of the original 'chapters' is a superior delivery mechanism for this book. If I were to read it again, I'd put it down after each 'chapter'.

The story was an excellent addition to the universe overall. There wasn't much space in the serialized editions to review characters and events, which means it kind of dives you straight in to the universe. I'd recommend re-reading the p
Ben Babcock
I had trouble describing The Human Division to friends, because the Old Man’s War universe is military science-fiction, but this particularly novel isn’t so heavy on the “military” aspect. Following the events in The Last Colony (which I haven’t read yet), the Colonial Union has to let military operations take a back seat and resort to democracy to get what it wants. The State Department is suddenly important, meaning that even the diplomats who don’t get the crucial negotations—the “B-Team”, if ...more
Much as I've enjoyed the latest installment in the Old Man's War saga, it left me both disappointed and eager: disappointed, because the many intriguing threads in the books did not bring a complete resolution, which is left to the next book (or books) in the series; eager because this same lack of resolution means there will be more. And that's a good thing.

As it happens with many of John Scalzi's works, The Human Division starts in a deceptively rambling fashion, the reader's distraction (for
Jared Millet
"When I was your age, television was called books." Now we've come full circle to a book structured and released episodically like a television program. The Human Division isn't a serial in the traditional sense of a novel broken up into chunks with cliffhangers. Instead, most of the chapters stand on their own as complete short stories while contributing to the whole. So did it work?

Oh, yes.

As for the story itself, I'm not going to say much. It's the fifth in the Old Man's War series (yes, I sk
And now the serial's over, I will sum up my impressions here. I quickly skimmed through all the episodes again, trying to decide how I felt about how well it all tied in. And I really don't know. Some of it still feels incredibly bitty, sort of gratuitous -- The Dog King, for example, is funny, but I'm not sure how much it contributes.

The overall plot is pretty good, but by the time the next "season" comes out, my surmises and hopes will be so much less present and powerful. I wish there'd been
This is a book made up of 13 episodes that Scalzi released (I believe one a week for thirteen weeks). I did rate each episode as I read them and really do recommend that you read them that way. They were written, designed and released to be read episodically and I'm not really sure they work as a novel.

The episodes had me turning the pages and really looking forward to the next episode. I should state that I am in general a fan of episodic fiction so this really was right up my alley.

The stories
A lot of fun, but I kept wondering if this was Scalzi's Retief tribute. It didn't work quite as well -- Lieutenant Harry Wilson, nominally an active-duty commissioned nerd attached to diplomatic staff for non-combat duties -- is absurdly, ridiculously, capable. He diagnoses alien technologies, jumps out of spaceships, invents new forensics and military techniques, saves lives and negotiations.

But he is not written or appreciated by other characters as extraordinary -- instead he just muddles alo
Karen Wyle
I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment in Scalzi's Old Man's War series. In fact, my only minor gripe arises from the fact that this novel was itself originally published in installments. As the serial proceeded, Scalzi apparently felt compelled to insert reminders of various plot elements, as sequels often do. Over the course of something like fourteen installments, these reminders add up and become annoying. I don't know whether Scalzi considered editing them out for the fully-assembled ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Darn enjoyable. The pages turned. I like the idea that "It's a compelling point" is code for "You are completely full of shit, but arguing with you would be pointless, so I am going to change the subject on you." (139). I may have to add that to my communication armory.

This book is set after the not-Federation ("The Conclave") bypasses the not-Evil Empire ("The Colonial Union") and sends a trade delegation directly to Earth ("Earth"), letting Earth know that the not-Evil Empire has been pretty
I wish I could give this book 2 1/2 stars, but I just can't be bothered to give it 3 stars. For whatever reason, this book (which is really a collection of short stories) didn't do it for me. I can't pinpoint the cause of my disappointment. I like Scalzi and have enjoyed all his books. However, his flaws as a writer become much more obvious in the short story format. He has about 5 character "types" that crop up in almost every story; his ideas are clever but he doesn't explore them as fully as ...more
Jeffrey Grant
I tend to like scalzi’s writing better when he’s allowing his snark to flow, and he certainly does that here.

This book is actually a collection of interconnected short stories that were released episodically, but the stories are all interconnected, so it reads sort of like a serialized TV show. Intimiate knowledge of the previous books in the series is not required; Scalzi makes an effort to describe the universe without assuming the reader has prior knowledge, but as with any series, having re
Profundus Librum
A novellák egytől egyik olvasmányosak, szellemesek, fordulatosak és érdekesek. Némelyikben akciójeleneteket is találni, de a politikai kalandozások azért jóval gyakoribbak bennük. Gyengébb írást nem is igen lelhetünk fel közöttük. Kedvencet is nehezen tudnék megnevezni, de jellemzően inkább azok közül válogatnék, amelyek végül űrcsatába torkollnak. :-) A tárgyalások ugyanis még véletlenül sem mentek sosem a tervezettek szerint. A könyv a magas szórakoztatási faktora ellenére sem lesz sok olvasó ...more
This is a book very fun to read and at the same time a nice exercise in writing as this book was originally released as 13 chapters that each could stand on their own. And somehow the author makes this work, individually each chapter tells a story but together the story feels more complete and expands and at the same time no chapter feels weak, some of these stories are heavy on action, some less but they all work.
All of these take place in the Old Man's war universe and happen after The Last Co
Rob Ladefoged
If you're an author who's planning on writing a follow-up to a series that doesn't include the main character from the previous books, this is probably the best way you can do it. Especially after hating Zoe's Tale as much as I did, I was so pleased with this book. The plot is really strong and captivating and it kept my interest despite it's short story form and jumping around a little. Lots of exciting space battles and alien interaction. Just the right amount of political conversation between ...more
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I loved this book 1 9 May 29, 2014 12:23AM  
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John Scalzi, having declared his absolute boredom with biographies, disappeared in a puff of glitter and lilac scent.

(If you want to contact John, using the mail function here is a really bad way to do it. Go to his site and use the contact information you find there.)
More about John Scalzi...

Other Books in the Series

Old Man's War (6 books)
  • Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)
  • The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)
  • The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3)
  • Zoe's Tale (Old Man's War, #4)
  • The End of All Things (Old Man's War, #6)
Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1) Redshirts The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2) The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3) Fuzzy Nation

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