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The Back Channel

(The Human Division #6)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,558 ratings  ·  71 reviews
The Conclave is a confederation of four hundred alien racesmany of whom would like to see the Colonial Union, and the humans inside of it, blasted to extinction. To avoid a conflict that neither side can afford, Conclave leader General Tarsem Gau appoints Hafte Sorvalh to resolve an emerging diplomatic crisis with the humans, before the only acceptable solution is war.
ebook, 33 pages
Published February 19th 2013 by Tor Books
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  2,558 ratings  ·  71 reviews

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War Mongering!

The Conclave, a confederation of alien races, is fed up with the Colonial Union. And because of the shenanigans of the CU, they wish the human race was extinct.

General Gau, leader of The Conclave, does not wish war with the humans on Earth, although, like every other race in The Conclave, he is also fed up with The Colonial Union.

After finding out that humans have illegally colonized some planets, and knowing that this could cause war between the Conclave, The Colonial Union and Ea
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Back Channel is put to very good use by Conclave representative Sorvalh (at the behest of General Gau) to deal with another wildcat colony. No spoilers but her interaction with Rigney was very well done & I look forward to seeing them chat again in future. Also, it was nice to know Sorvalh likes churros & felt badly about the goat. lol Looking forward to the next.
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Vintage Scalzi. It's not a bluff if you mean it. Of course, as often as that sort of challenge works, it doesn't because you have to be dealing with a rational person. Many of us aren't.

A good read.
Kaethe Douglas
This section is mostly talking heads, so it could have been info dumpy and dull, but it isn't. It's funny as hell, particularly the conversation over churros.

I bought it.
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love this series - but I've got to find the compiled version... I hate trying get my hands on the 'bits' all the time. Waiting to get the full version for readin further. ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it liked it

Another solid, but short, addition to the ongoing series. The tension continues to mount between Earth, the Colonial Union, and the Conclave. This episode introduces us to some of the main alien characters in the Coalition and follows from their perspective. It's hard to pull off a complete episodic story in just 45 minutes to an hour, but Scalzi has been doing a decent job so far for the most part.

I still think this guy should take over writing the Star Wars books. He's got the right amount of
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, ebook, scifi
This installment really made me think about the fine line between war and diplomacy. It is mostly from the point of view of The Conclave, the alien consortium. Of course, no political association is all one thing or another, so it's a lot of alien-politics-maneuvering. I thought that was great.

I also really had fun with the writing.
"“Well,” Sorvalh said, impressed. “Aren’t you fierce.”
“F you, xig,” the colonist said.
“A bit repetitive, however,” Sorvalh said.

And then she goes on to intimidate t
Annabeth Leong
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the first installment I really liked that did not include the main cast. It was a complete story in itself, with interesting (and sympathetic) characters, some of which I remembered from previous books in the OMW universe. The tie to the main plot felt stronger than with the other episodes that went afield, and I enjoyed seeing Rigney appear (he's been a minor character in several main plot episodes). This encourages me -- I had been starting to think I'd be disappointed every other week ...more
Jun 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Almost half way through Scalzi's 13 episode tale. It feels like a t.v. show where each episode has a different POV, a different style, a different purpose. Very cool.
This one takes us to the POV of the Conclave and it's nice to remember that both the good guys in a book and the bad guys both believe they are right if you look at things from their point of view.

Bring on the next one - this is good stuff.
Mar 27, 2013 rated it liked it
What is a churro, anyway? Must google.

Anyway, this is a fun addition to the series. It still feels way too bitty: I'm not sure it'll work at all as a novel, but it is quite fun as a serial, like this. I liked this 'episode', too, with its focus on alien races. They all feel quite close to human to me, but it's still pretty good.
Suzanne Earley
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, 2013
I am still enjoying this story, although I think I'm going to wish I had just waited and got them all together. If nothing else, it means all this short fiction is pumping up my book count for the year! ...more
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love the way Scalzi writes his non-human characters.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My only complaint is that I wish each of these short stories had more to them!
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the series more as I went through each episode. At first I struggled because it seemed like random stories set in this universe. But as it continued and I realized it was interwoven story lines I enjoyed them more. The main characters were enjoyable. It's pretty traditional sci fi fare but still worth the read. ...more
This was a very important episode to the plot, but it required a lot more attention than I was in the mood for. Took me rewinding three times to get the whole thing read. But the ending made up for the rough beginning. Not my favorite but I did enjoy the finish.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm not enjoying these short stories as much as I have the full length books.
Easy reading, a bit of a plot and fills in some of the story.
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I would read a whole series on Hafte Sorvalh — one of the best characters in the universe.
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Makes me want to read the next installment
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I definitely found a new favorite character in Hafte Sorvalh. She is very scary in her own special way, & it's awesome. Hopefully we get to see more of her. ...more
Jay Collins
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review is for the entirety of The Human Division, comprised of The B-Team; Walk the Plank; We Only Need the Heads; A Voice in the Wilderness; Tales From the Clarke; The Back Channel; The Dog King; The Sound of Rebellion; The Observers; This Must Be the Place; A Problem of Proportion; The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads; Earth Below, Sky Above.

My first thought about this, the latest story in the Old Man's War universe from John Scalzi, was annoyance that I hadn't read it whilst it was being rel
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sixth of thirteen installments in The Human Division, a serial novel by John Scalzi. New installments are released on Tuesdays, though the entire book will be released, as well. As much as it might frustrate a reader to jump around between installments all at once, we're almost at the halfway point, which may be too much for some to catch up on.

This episode introduces members of the Conclave, a group of alien races allied for common benefit. Apparently they've encountered humans befo
Lis Carey
Mar 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf, fiction, audiobooks
The Colonial Union doesn't want another war with the Conclave, an alliance of four hundred alien species--a war that might wipe out humans in the galaxy. General Gau, leader of the Conclave, also wants to avoid a war, having noticed that the Conclave did not actually win the last one.

But there's a growing faction in the Conclave that does want war, and wildcat human colonies that just happen to include a few Colonial Defense Forces soldiers, risk giving them the excuse they need. Determined to a
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Episode six of John Scalzi's new novel finds us with the Conclave, that federation of four hundred alien races that have been at war with the Colonial Union. General Gau, one of the architects of the Conclave, is discussing the existence of ten wildcat human colonies on worlds claimed by the Conclave. From earlier episodes, we know they aren't really wildcats.

Some in the Conclave are looking for any excuse to re-launch the war with Humans. Gau knows that, despite overwhelming numbers, it could b
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a review for the series of the Human Division. I have read all the 13 books in a row, this was my first time reading John Scalzi.
I was at first disturbed by the series: more than 400 different races, some with very unfriendly intents toward each other, but all at about the same technological development level and strength which makes it none really prevails? It just does not fit with my idea of technological advancement and species competition.
Anyway, I decided to forget about the imposs
Peter Anargirou
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned, google-books
With the sixth episode of the Human Division, Scalzi finally gave me what I really wanted. He showed me the Conclave.

While the Back Channel shows humans as well, it really showcases alien members of the Conclave and the Conclave itself as a political unit. More than anything in the Old Man's War universe, that's what I wanted to see next, so I was thrilled to find myself before a large political body of the Conclave.

The Back Channel raises some tension in the story while reaffirming that while t
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
Really having trouble with the weak premise established in episode #3: that a piece of "military"(i.e. informational, NOT a munition) technology, which is conceivable today, simply being present at a civilian settlement in the far future is actually conclusive of military involvement. It's your world, John, but please try to *convince* us it could happen. We read a bunch of shit every year, we don't re-read your novels. *Explain* how the CU keeps their very desirable technology from leaking out ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Can I just say it now? I really like General Gau, and I'm glad he puts in an appearance in this installment of The Human Division. That's not a spoiler by the way; Gau is peripheral to the action in this part, which is really about stakes. I have to add that I've really enjoyed this experiment -- I like having a new episode to read each week... a nice morsel of a story I can enjoy on the bus ride home; thus it's hopefully plain to see that I disagree with the complaints about the length of the i ...more
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, ebook-only
It is a little odd to contemplate a "review" of something that is only a chapter, maybe, of a larger work. Difficult to discuss it in terms of the larger "scope" of the work.

I liked this episode, which is why it gets four stars. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the episodic novel, though, at least not this one. I like the idea of it... but, ehh... I don't know.

I'm enjoying the more complete entrance of The Conclave. I also like that the CU isn't given the "humans are the good guys" treatment. Ever
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another riveting chapter of John Scalzi's The Human Divison. Part six finds our heroes (well, not exactly heroes) being used as alternative sources of information. The light, humorous writing style of the author mixes very well with the strong serious undertone that builds up from the previous chapter, Tales From the Clarke and is going to continue on throughout the rest of the series. Novel. Whatever. ...more
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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.)

Other books in the series

The Human Division (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • The B-Team (The Human Division, #1)
  • Walk the Plank (The Human Division, #2)
  • We Only Need the Heads (The Human Division, #3)
  • A Voice in the Wilderness (The Human Division, #4)
  • Tales From the Clarke (The Human Division, #5)
  • The Dog King (The Human Division, #7)
  • The Sound of Rebellion (The Human Division, #8)
  • The Observers (The Human Division, #9)
  • This Must Be the Place (The Human Division, #10)
  • A Problem of Proportion (The Human Division, #11)

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