Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
In an effort to improve relations with the Earth, the Colonial Union has invited a contingent of diplomats from that planet to observe Ambassador Abumwe negotiate a trade deal with an alien species. Then something very bad happens to one of the Earthings, and with that, the relationship between humanitys two factions is on the cusp of disruption once more. Its a race to find out what really happened, and who is to blame.

48 pages, ebook

First published March 12, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

John Scalzi

154 books22.6k followers
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.)

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
922 (35%)
4 stars
1,185 (45%)
3 stars
424 (16%)
2 stars
29 (1%)
1 star
22 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Anissa.
880 reviews264 followers
March 12, 2013
Another good installment in the serial that centers around a delegation of Earthlings on the New Clark. At this point in the story (there are only 5 installments remaining), I refuse to spoil it by saying much of anything, so trust that it continues to engage, the characters are still great & I'm looking forward to the next.
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,451 reviews473 followers
November 16, 2019
I've started really looking forward to these Tuesday episodes. Shouldn't have left the house this morning without downloading this one.

You know what this one is like? Asimov short space mysteries. Not exactly, but the idea of a puzzle for which the solution lies in the specific setting. And the mildly humorous tone. Loved it, again.

I bought a copy.
Profile Image for Alice.
845 reviews48 followers
March 17, 2013
This is the ninth of thirteen episodes in The Human Division, a serial novel by John Scalzi. So far, all of the stories have been written as stand-alones, with the hint of an overarching conflict tying them all together. Whether they'll be connected by anything more than a loose thread may have to wait until episode 13.

In this installment, Abumwe and Wilson are assigned to a low-priority mission of trading medical technology for ships. The added challenge comes in with an ambassadorial detail from Earth, there to see if the Colonial Union is worth trying to ally with, or if they should try for the Conclave, instead. The Burfinor try to take advantage of the tight spot the CU negotiators are in, and then an Earth resident turns up dead.

I had a theory, at that point, about what had caused the death. But the underlying medical condition I suspected would've led to a far less satisfying conclusion to this installment, narratively speaking. The group seems a lot closer to figuring out who's behind various sabotage maneuvers, and yet so far away.

Once again, I listened to this episode on audio, and William Dufris continues to show he's up to the challenge of pronouncing the bizarre names and words Scalzi comes up with for alien races. The world this series is set in certainly feels like it's populated with aliens, for all the bizarre descriptions and near-unpronounceable names within it.

I'm looking forward to episode 10.
Profile Image for Erin (PT).
564 reviews93 followers
March 13, 2013
Still enjoying the chapters and overall story very much but I'm starting to wonder when we'll get some answers to the proliferating questions. Only four more chapters to go, none of the chapters are very long, and it still feels like we're lost in the weeds with no clear direction.

I do still trust Scalzi to bring it all together, but now I'm questioning when, at least.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,186 reviews106 followers
June 30, 2014
So what do we have with this episode? It's the 9th one (of 13 total) - we have Ambassador Abumwe & Harry Wilson again as the main characters - we have a murder and a mystery AND we are tying everything back to the main story arc...Nice!

Scalzi really latched onto the episodic format and ran with it. I'll save my final review for when the story ends but I'm really loving this so far.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
April 3, 2013
I liked this episode a lot: it finally felt like something I could hold onto and start making guesses about. And it was pretty darn funny at times, too. Good connections to other stuff in the Old Man's War universe, too.
Profile Image for Gilbert Stack.
Author 62 books57 followers
August 20, 2021
The diplomatic team is back and once again up to their necks in political muck. What looks like a simple observer mission from earth quickly gets complicated when one of the observers dies unexpectedly and it looks like the Colonial Union bumped him off. This is a tight little mystery, but not the Ellery Queen kind in which you have all the clues and can identify who did it. Instead, the high-tech solution points to the growing seriousness of the situation between the Colonial Union and Earth. I am very curious how Skalzi’s going to pull all of this together by the last story.

If you liked this review, you can find more at www.gilbertstack.com/reviews.
Profile Image for Karlyn.
328 reviews
September 9, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Kevin.
658 reviews20 followers
May 12, 2023
During negotiations between Earth and the Colonial Union one of the diplomats dies unexpectedly and seemingly without cause. The culprit gets caught once Harry Wilson gets to use a new toy to ascertain the proper results. Recommended
Profile Image for Nancy.
337 reviews5 followers
August 24, 2018
Aha! I think things are starting to come together!
Profile Image for Darren Douglas.
Author 4 books5 followers
May 30, 2019
Loving it, plays off like a mystery and keeps you involved. Splendid Sci-Fi! :-)
359 reviews
March 5, 2023

Scalzi is dope, and this addiction to tech that makes the difference during discussion is addictive. Old Man's War Universe ain't no safe, sane place to go
Profile Image for John.
484 reviews14 followers
July 1, 2013
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 released. The individual episodes each come to around 25 or 30 pages on my Nook (except for the first and last parts) and it would have been fun to read them and have the cliffhangers as it happened. In the end, though, being able to read the entire thing in one go was also pretty cool.

At the end of The Last Colony, John Perry and the Conclave revealed the nature of interstellar warfare and diplomacy to the citizens of Earth. This story details some of the fallout from that decision, dovetailing neatly with the B-team mentioned in the first episode and their attempts to remedy the diplomatic events that occur as a result. It's a welcome return to the universe from Scalzi, who has mostly stayed away from writing more tales here for the last five years (since the the publication of Zoe's Tale). I really enjoyed catching up with the universe, and the episodic nature of the story was handled extremely well.

Looking forward to reading Scalzi's next works in this direction, both from the perspective of this universe and the perspective of episodic storytelling.
Profile Image for Knut Sigurd.
767 reviews8 followers
October 5, 2016
Artig at desse små sogene er i ulike sjangrar (ikkje 1:1) rettferdiggjer langt på veg at dei vert gjevne ut separat.
Profile Image for Peter Anargirou.
56 reviews4 followers
March 19, 2013
In Scalzi's ninth episode of The Human Division, The Observers, some Earthling observers come aboard a Colonial Union ship and watch Abumwe handle negotiations with an alien race. Unfortunately, one of the Earthlings dies and it appears to be a murder. If they can't figure out what happened, it could be bad for the Colonial Union.

We're nearing the end of The Human Division with only four more episodes, and we still don't know who's causing all the trouble. However, there's definitely an overarching plot, and we see it here again. This episode continues the juxtaposition of Earth and the Colonial Union, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the Old Man's War universe. In addition, we see the continued escalation of the unknown threat. Of course, we still have a number of questions. Who would want to kill one of the Earthlings? Who posed as Earthlings and wanted to blow up the ship previously? Who killed the radio host on Earth? Who tried to set up the CDF to look like the aggressors in the first episode? I'm hoping for some basic answers to these soon so that we have a few episodes full of action. We'll see what we get tomorrow.
Profile Image for heidi.
315 reviews56 followers
April 22, 2013
Everyone loves a good locked-spaceship mystery, right? I certainly do.

The trail of mysterious sabotage continues to dog (hah) Ambassador Abumwe and Lt. Wilson, and only a nasty suspicious pair of minds and a series of fortunate coincidences enables them to figure out part of what is up.

There is still hilarious dialog:
“The romance of the diplomatic life, Lieutenant Wilson,” Abumwe said.

“We are living the dream, ma’am,” Wilson said. Abumwe stared at Wilson for a moment, as if she were slightly disbelieving the two of them had actually just made a commiserating joke together.

There is also the tiny budding of a romance for Lt. Wilson. Good for him.

Read if: You are enjoying this serial. If you like the moment when everyone realizes it was Col. Mustard with the pipe wrench.

Skip if: You are looking for any resolution to our persistent mystery to happen in this installment.
Profile Image for Lis Carey.
2,189 reviews98 followers
June 9, 2013
Another entry in the unfolding episodic novel, The Human Division, now out in its complete form. In this, the ninth episode, the Colonial Union, in an ongoing attempt to mend relations with Earth, has invited a contingent of Earth diplomats to observe Ambassador Abumwe's negotiations with the Burfinor, trading ships for medical technology.

Unfortunately, negotiations are barely begun when one of the Earth diplomats turns up dead--and an autopsy shows that it's not due to natural causes.

Wilson and a very interesting member of the Earth team have to find the killer to prevent the CU-Earth part of the mission from blowing up, while Abumwe has to block the Burfinors' attempts to take advantage of their suddenly precarious situation.

Still a lot of fun, with the Scalzi sense of humor on full display, while we inch closer to hints of what's really going on in the overarching conflict that unites the episodes.


I bought this story.
Profile Image for Marcelo.
141 reviews13 followers
June 12, 2013
Lieutenant Harry Wilson, Ambassador Ode Abumwe, and Hart Schmidt are back in the action! Mirroring the first chapter, The B-Team, and also the fifth chapter, Tales From the Clarke, our unsung heroes must stop a conspiracy that threatens to drive an even large wedge between the Colonial Union and Earth. Again, they'll need all their abilities (and, why not, charm) to solve this mystery in time — or, at least minimize the fallout.

John Scaly puts us, the readers, back on track of the most important event in the Old Man's War universe. His writing is, yet again, elegant, light and impressive.
Profile Image for Pierre.
89 reviews
November 7, 2013
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 impossibility of this situation and focus on the story, which I must admit is quite good and interesting.
The concept of releasing several stories, which at first sounds independent from one another is also quite attractive.

This book will not be among my most favourite books, but still a good read which makes me want to discover more the work of John Scalzi.
Profile Image for Maduck831.
459 reviews1 follower
March 15, 2013
Enjoyed it. I really like Wilson, I seem to enjoy stories with him in it. I like his dialogue and how he can be funny/serious. In this "episode" I liked how he and Lowen got into discussions on CDF and consciousness transfer. Also seems like it is finally tying in to previous stories, re: sabotage (don't know the "episode" off the top of my head, but the one with the radio dude), which is nice, I hope he continues to do so with the remaining "episodes." My only grip is there seems to be a bad habit of "recapping" previous plot points as if you haven't read any previous stores. I understand this for sequels, but for something like this, especially with a short word count anyway it just seems lazy. That said, I'm in for the long haul.
Profile Image for Kevin.
98 reviews
March 17, 2013
Latest chapter in Scalzi's serialized "The human Division" and something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I am curious who is behind trying to keep Earth and the Colonial Union apart, sadly we get no closer to finding out in this installment. I enjoy chapters where Wilson is front and center. But my concern grows that we'll have a coherent story by the end.

People may see my chapter rankings and ask, "Why do you give each chapter such high marks then?" Long answer- Because until I finish the entire book, I can only rank each chapter on it's own merits and each chapter has been pretty good. Short answer- I'm a Scalzi fan boy.
2,490 reviews42 followers
March 12, 2013
Lt. Wilson is asked by Ambassador Abumwe to be the liaison for the Earth party of observers on the Clarke's latest mission: to negotiate a deal with the Burfinor for biomedical scanners, superior to the Colonial Union's, for five outdated starships. Abumwe remembers the fake Earth party from an earlier mission. Wilson is from the United States as is one of the observers from Earth.

It doesn't take long as one the earth party, the leader, is found dead and an autopsy reveals that it looks as if the Colonial Union killed him. It's up to Wilson to figure out what really happened before this whole thing blows up the Colonial Union's face.
Profile Image for bella.
249 reviews25 followers
May 24, 2013
I'd taken a break between the 8th installment and this installment (the 9th). Even though the book is already released I'm continuing on with the installments on audio.

I remember why I enjoyed this one within minutes of listening. It's a fun series. I especially loved this installment because it involved Harry Wilson (my favorite) and Ambassador Abumwe (my second favorite) and had a mystery about it. Mysteries are my favorite genre, so it was a fun listen.

This one involved the Colonial Union and Earth and a diplomatic mission gone wrong, ending in the death of a Earthling.

Still enjoying, will still read/listen to more.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.