When we last left the Colonial Union (CU)--the human political/military force in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series--things were in a bit of a mess. Since there is no way to describe this mess without giving away the ending to the last books in the series (The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale), mess will simply have to suffice to describe the difficulties facing the CU (some of their own making and some issuing from their rival, The Conclave). In The Human Division, Scalzi takes us back to the Colonial Union to see how it is dealing with these challenges.
For more than 200 years, the Colonial Union has been recruiting colonists from Earth to establish settlements on uninhabited planets. It has also been recruiting soldiers for the Colonial Defense Force (CDF) to protect those colonists. Methods have been questionable, and the Union's dealings with Earth have been far from equitable. But now, circumstances have changed and the Colonial Union--and the CDF--are forced to rely upon diplomacy, rather than military might, to resolve the many and varied issues that come from being part of the larger cosmic community.
In The Human Division, readers follow some previously established minor characters from the Old Man’s War series, as well as some new ones, as they make their way through the mine-laden arena of galactic politics. Incorporating elements of space opera, political thriller, and buddy adventure/comedy, all of which make this work a fascinating, compelling, and enjoyable read. The Human Division was initially released in a serialized format during January through April of 2013, with each individual chapter being a stand-alone e-book short story. Now the stories have been collected into a single volume, with a few extras thrown in at the end for good measure. While each story does stand nicely on its own as an individual episode in a larger story, when collected the stories form a satisfying and enjoyable venture into an established universe.
The novel also has its own share of significant developments and events within the Old Man’s War universe. And the ending, while satisfying, begs for another chapter in the saga. In April of 2013, Tor Books announced that there would be a continuation of the stories begun in The Human Division. While a date hasn’t yet been set for release, it’s good to know that the next chapters in this story are on their way!