The Human Division #10: This Must Be The Place, John Scalzi

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.
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March 20, 2013

The Human Division #10: This Must Be The Place, John Scalzi

The Human Division #10: This Must Be The Place, John Scalzi

So in this episode of John Scalzi’s The Human Division, “This Must Be the Place”, not a damn thing happens. Seriously.

I am starting to get really annoyed.

This is a B plot installment, this time in the form of Clarke lackey Hart Schmidt’s trip home for Harvest Day–or what appears to be more or less an American-style Thanksgiving. Schmidt arrives home, enjoys some modern conveniences, then travels to his family’s home–where it is revealed that his father is a super-powerful politician and that they have live-in servants who are mostly treated like members of the family but not so much that they actually get to eat the Harvest Day meal with them (although it’s not clear that they’d want to, either).

Let me sum up what happens:

Hart goes home for ThanksgivingI mean Harvest Day.

He talks to his family’s driver who is also an award-winning poet. We get some backstory about Hart’s family and his family’s relationship with their servants.

Hart then exchanges jibes with his siblings, then goes to see his dad and gets a paternal lecture.

Hart then goes to hang out with the driver for a little bit and gets some perspective.

Then it’s time for dinner and there is bickering over who is going to say grace and Hart takes the opportunity to give a big speech about what he’s been doing on the Clarke and how awesome it is and how he loves his job.

The end.

I honestly cannot figure out how this has any relevance at all to the main plot except for the fact that Hart’s dad is connected enough to be in the loop on the reports about the various missions Hart’s been on. I can’t even tell if there is a main plot anymore because this is a bunch of short stories that are kind of linked but don’t really cohere (at least not yet). There is no center to this book, no emotional arc, no real character development–and that’s frustrating.  I cannot see how this is going to come together in the 20,000-30,000 words left in the book.  There’s no structural integrity here–a bunch of clever vignettes in search of a plot does not a novel make.

So why on earth am I still reading? I’m still reading because I have a feeling that Scalzi might be able to pull it off and I want to see if he’s able to stick the landing.  And taken separately, each of these episodes is entertaining enough on its own except for maybe this week’s which feels like more of a placeholder than the dog episode was.

I’m not even going to BOTHER with an Ivanova GIF this week because this sort of nonsense doesn’t DESERVE one.

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