The Human Division #4: A Voice in the Wilderness, John Scalzi

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.

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February 6, 2013

The Human Division #4: A Voice in the Wilderness, John Scalzi

The Human Division #4: A Voice in the Wilderness, John Scalzi

Yay, it’s the fourth installment of The Human Division! This week’s episode is called “A Voice in the Wilderness” and it seems to establish a pattern for the installments–one episode with Harry Wilson and Ambassador Abumwe and then one which illuminates the story from a different angle.

As usual, spoilers ahoy.

This week’s angle is from the perspective of a blowhard talk show host on the radio of the future. (The FUUUUUTUUUUURE.) Albert Birnbaum’s ratings are dropping and his show is in immanent danger of cancellation when he is approached by a stranger and given an offer which he really should look at more carefully.

However, since he’s the designated red shirt of this episode, he happily takes the Trojan horse back to the studio and starts spinning tales about a grand conspiracy theory involving the CDU and a one world government.

Birnbaum is a bit of a jackass and, I admit, that my mental image of him was a certain right-wing commentator who has been stinking up the airwaves for over 20 years now.  He’s so focused on getting ratings that he’s willing to make up whatever story his mysterious benefactors want him to–and it costs him dearly in the end.

This episode didn’t work quite as well for me as the others–I felt like I could see where it was going well before it got there. It also didn’t really give me any sort of idea about what most people on Earth felt about the CDU and Birnbaum, well, he’s a caricature. I didn’t care when things ended badly for him.

I’m getting a bit tired of the shadowy maneuvers of what I can only assume is the bad guys at this point (what with all the killing of people and stuff)–I am frankly surprised that their emissary wasn’t named Mr. Morden (that would have been a great shout out to the best SF television show of all time Ivanova is the best and I am still sad about Marcus adfskjafsudiofe). Ahem. Anyhow. This particular trope has been done and done extremely well–I’m hoping that future installments will force these dudes out of the shadows (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) and into the open because this skulking shit is getting old.

And now, just because:Ivanova is always right.

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  1. Liz Bourke


    I love that scene. Actually, I’m not really all that hot on Babylon 5’s execution (its ambitions, otoh: MAD PROPS), but every scene with Ivanova? Love them.

    …Speaking of which, perhaps I should finish watching the second season some day.

    • Natalie

      So you haven’t seen Marcus dfjnsdalkfjiosuwerflkfiowfeiwj, then? ALL THE TEARS. Also, the first season isn’t the strongest–they definitely get better.


    • Liz Bourke

      I watched the first, the third and the fourth! Because I could get them cheap/borrewed. MARCUS. IVANOVA. DELENN. INVANOVA!

    • Liz Bourke

      Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see. God sent me.

      Best Moment of Awesome ever.

    • Natalie

      She is the very bestest.

  2. Carl V.

    I actually enjoyed the episode this week. I too pictured RL when reading this, which was kind of fun. I don’t mind that the bad guys are still being really shadowy, especially given that we are only 4 chapters into a 13 chapter book. Looking forward to getting back to the Clarke next Tuesday.

    • Natalie

      I started out liking it, but then as I was writing I was all, “Self, I’m getting tired of this mysterious stuff. What the hell is going on?” I do like the pattern that’s being established, but it’s time for the non-Clarke episodes to start doing more than just info-dumping in an entertaining way.

  3. Selki

    Oh, Marcus, we barely knew ye.

  4. Jan the Alan Fan

    I loved Babylon 5, and how the station rotated to create gravity (wow, actual Science!).

    Ivanova is Love (and is always right, yes).


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"It's chaos, be kind."
Michelle McNamara