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The Human Division #11

A Problem of Proportion

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A secret backdoor meeting between Ambassador Ode Abumwe and the Conclaves Hafte Sorvalh turns out to be less than secret as both of their ships are attacked. Its a surprise to both teams but its the identity of the attacker that is the real surprise, and suggests a threat to both humanity and The Conclave.

46 pages, ebook

First published March 26, 2013

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About the author

John Scalzi

154 books22.5k 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.)

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5 stars
1,013 (38%)
4 stars
1,190 (44%)
3 stars
382 (14%)
2 stars
36 (1%)
1 star
25 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 75 reviews
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,449 reviews473 followers
November 16, 2019
We're nearing the end, with more of the puzzle being revealed, and also, more of the characters.

Well done, and touching.

I bought it.
Profile Image for Ron.
Author 1 book141 followers
March 26, 2013
Oh yeah! Vintage Scalzi. This is why we read him. Classic space opera.

Why only four stars? Because this reads like a rough draft. There are many phrases and a few sentences which clutter the story and knock the read out of the moment. If John had re-read it just once more--maybe cut ten percent--I bet it would be even better.

A very good read.
Profile Image for Banner.
330 reviews47 followers
April 9, 2013
I was going to wait until I finished the series and rate the book as a whole, but after this chapter I had to jump in with a 5 star. I haven't decided yet how I will rate the book, but this chapter was one of the most touching and moving stories I have read in science fiction in awhile. Now I understand that to some degree this is a cowboy space opera and you don't always get a lot of depth and that's ok, because it's a fun read. But without giving anything away....

One of our protagonists interacts with a minor character in the plot of our evil shadow force. Actually this minor character turns out to be innocent victim himself. This is one very tragic figure. Humanity looks good for a change and we learn a little something about what is really valuable in the universe.

Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
April 9, 2013
Oh, now this, this episode I really liked. Well, insofar as you can like something that stabs you in the heart a little. This worked really well, and I think I see how things are connecting up -- and for me, at least, it brought in a level of emotion and connection that I hadn't yet really felt.

Also, what this reviewer said about consent, etc.

Moving straight on to the twelfth episode.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,186 reviews106 followers
July 1, 2014
You know something is up when the Colonial Union and the Conclave are on a joint mission and we've got Harry Wilson as lead. This one had one of the coolest concepts in recent memory - a little depressing at the end but still cool.

No spoilers here so I'll end the review now except to say....keep them coming....this was episode 11 of 13 and I'm dying to know how it ends.
Profile Image for Gilbert Stack.
Author 62 books57 followers
September 1, 2021
Once again, the Colonial Union’s backup diplomats end up being in a critical place at the wrong time, uncovering a plot that appears to be trying to push the Colonial Union and the Conclave into war. That was fine as far as it goes, but the real heart of this story is Wilson trying to save a man whose brain has been removed from his body and wired into a killer starship. It was genuinely heartwarming.

If you liked this review, you can find more at www.gilbertstack.com/reviews.
Profile Image for Erin (PT).
564 reviews93 followers
March 26, 2013
To use a fandom expression: ALL THE FEELS.

This was a great chapter. Besides the usual great elements: Abumwe and her Diplomatic Missions of Doom, the Wilson and Schmidt Sideshow, the ongoing mysteries--and finally, some small insight into those!--we have

Such an excellent chapter.
Profile Image for Dan.
1,562 reviews26 followers
March 18, 2013
We get a tiny bit closer to finding out what's going on with the mysterious disappearing spaceships and how the Colonial Union and the Conclave seem to be poised on the brink of war. Harry Wilson works with aliens from the Conclave to explore one of those mysterious spaceships that has just returned - and attacked both the humans and the aliens. What they discover on board that ship is one of the stranger elements of The Human Division, and that includes a previous episode where they electrocuted a dog that had been swallowed by a carnivorous plant to save a diplomatic mission.
Profile Image for Kat  Hooper.
1,584 reviews403 followers
May 21, 2013
Nice collection of stories set in the OLD MAN’S WAR universe. It continues the plot, so you don’t want to miss it. I listened to the audio version which was very good. You can each episode separately or all together.
We've got a review of the full series here:
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 Meghan.
682 reviews
June 14, 2018
Another great chapter in the Human Division series. Reminiscent of the Expanse. I see now why we had Book 10. By giving us insight into Wilson’s home life, we understand why he makes the choices he makes. It’s very well done.
Profile Image for Kevin.
658 reviews20 followers
May 14, 2023
A meeting of two diplomatic ships that’s off the record get fired upon by a third unknown ship. After disabling it, they find it’s controlled by a “brain in a box.” The brain makes contact and then things get interesting. Recommended
Profile Image for Cybercrone.
1,822 reviews14 followers
January 24, 2019
Was OK, but just felt kind of skimpy somehow. I think this theme would have worked much better as a full-length book.
Profile Image for Michelle.
753 reviews2 followers
November 24, 2020
Another very good, intriguing and a little sad 😥, Harry Wilson story
359 reviews
March 6, 2023
Sad two

So Scalzi delves into the emotional box in our brain to what end? Shared joy or chagrin at the circumstances and our emotions for our motivation? So many ways to find it.
Profile Image for John.
483 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 Alice.
845 reviews48 followers
April 1, 2013
This is the eleventh installment of The Human Division, a serial SF novel by John Scalzi. There are two episodes left after this, and I can't wait to read them.

This episode has Abumwe and her team meeting with Hafte Sorvahl and her Conclave ship, and starts off with the Clarke dodging missiles. Luckily, the Conclave ship came armed, and disables the ship, but the incident has the humans and Conclave reps eyeing one another suspiciously. Lieutenant Harry Wilson once again steps in to get to the bottom of the matter, and staves off war a little longer.

The characterization of Rayth Ablant is given within a few glimpses, and it's a testament to Scalzi's writing chops that he makes him so likable that we understand why Wilson goes to such lengths to save him. Rayth is so surprised at Harry's empathy and forgiveness, and the moments of levity are nearly laugh-out-loud funny, in their contrast with the seriousness of the mission.

I thought this was a very well-written episode, and I enjoyed it immensely. I'm looking forward to the next two.

Once more, I read this on audio, narrated by William Dufris. His consistency with voices is excellent, and I never wondered who was speaking at any given moment, even without dialogue tags.
Profile Image for Peter Anargirou.
56 reviews4 followers
March 29, 2013
Scalzi's eleventh episode of The Human Division has the Conclave and Colonial Union meet in an officially unofficial backchannel discussion. Unfortunately, they're both attacked. It seems likely that whoever set the attack wanted each side to think it was the other. While they investigate who was behind the attack, they come across some interesting finds aboard the enemy ship.

Any episode that features the Conclave is interesting because it's a different side than that which we normally see. Not only do we get the Conclave in this episode, but we get Conclave interaction with the humans, which is always interesting. While we still don't know who's behind the attacks or their motivation, we're getting closer. Now that the Conclave and Colonial Union each realize that someone is attacking both of them, I expect the tensions to rise. Of course, the fact that there are only two more episodes left in The Human Division make that even more evident! I suspect we'll get very close if not find out directly who it is and their motivation in the next episode. If only Tuesday could come faster.
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.
2,490 reviews42 followers
March 31, 2013
The crew of the diplomatic ship Clarke picks up another clue in the eleventh episode of Scalzi's new Old Man's War novel.

Someone is taking old CDU vessels, those disarmed and sold for civilian use. Some think it's The Conclave. when the ship comes out of skip for a clandestine mission with the other side, it's to find two ships firing on each other: a Conclave warship and a diplomatic ship. The diplomatic ship fires on the Clarke as well.

The warship destroys the missiles, disables the diplomatic ship, and offers to surrender to the Clarke.

They both learn each his had ships disappear and maybe think it was the other side responsible. When, together they explore the disabled ship, they begin to learn what is really going on.

Coming down the stretch now with only two more episodes.
Profile Image for Lis Carey.
2,188 reviews98 followers
June 12, 2013
Ambassador Abumwe and her diplomatic B-Team show up for a secret meeting with Conclave representative Hafte Sorvalh--but the "secret meeting" is not so secret, as they discover when their ships are attacked. As the two groups eye each other suspiciously, they work to discover who is behind the attack--and what they find threatens both the Conclave and the Colonial Union.

This episode is tightly plotted and elegantly written, and I can't half begin to describe its excellences without major spoilers. I'll skip the spoilers, and just tell you: Read this. It's richer and better if you've read previous installments and know the characters, but even without that, this is a story that fully stands on its own, and is well worth reading.


I bought this story.
Profile Image for heidi.
315 reviews56 followers
April 22, 2013
In romance novels, there is this lovely moment where the two characters who had been persistently at odds or misunderstanding each other understand that they have more in common than they realized, and maybe it is other things getting in their way.

This is that moment in this serial, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. And it doesn't hurt that this is all facilitated by a beautifully creepy, sad, lost character.

Anyway, this installment is instrumental in understanding the story and you should make sure to read it.

Read if: You are reading these and have gotten this far. If you love stories about sad lost characters.

Skip if: You do not like bomb-defusing stories.
Profile Image for Alison.
1,317 reviews12 followers
March 28, 2013
We head straight back to the fighting in this one, right in the middle of some, in fact, and it is awesome. Even better, we get to meet up with our Conclave friend Hafte and get some more of that enemy point of view. Even better than that, we find out that there is a really mean person or group of persons (aliens can be persons too, right?) out there who apparently don't like either the Colonial Union or the Conclave and are willing to be total assholes to mess things up.
Profile Image for Maduck831.
459 reviews1 follower
April 3, 2013
something about this one I really liked...getting a bit more into the characters and emotions, which is nice. That said I still have no idea where this is going and starting to think these are more "short stories" than an actual novel (although we will see) as a friend of mine mentioned, could be considered a season of television show...If that's the case I'd love a "season two" (though granted we aren't done with "season one").
Profile Image for Marcelo.
141 reviews13 followers
June 17, 2013
Another chapter of Johns Scalzi's «The Human Division» where the author surprises us with a plot twist after the plot twist. We get to see more of Lieutenant Harry Wilson doing his best as a tech specialist. But that's not all. This chapter contains an emotional story, something that truly paints the kind of enemies humankind is facing out there.

If a chapter of a book like this doesn't make you want to read more, I don't know what will.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 75 reviews

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