Read This: The Human Division

Artwork from The Dog King
John Harris for Tor

I’m excited to reveal one of my first big projects for 2013: I’ll be leading a weekly “readalong” at for my friend John Scalzi’s serial, The Human Division, about a team of diplomats and their efforts to preserve humanity’s standing in the interstellar community—and to keep the people of Earth from abandoning ties to their colonies. I don’t want to say “serialized novel,” exactly, because it’s more like a string of self-contained episodes with an overarching narrative; as Scalzi says, “two novellas, five novelettes and six short stories,” which will be released and sold individually in digital format before being collected into a single volume.

The way the readalong will work is that each week, as a new episode comes out, I’ll have a post at where I can ask Scalzi about some of the latest plot developments, or maybe explore some technical aspects of doing a story the way he’s doing it, and then I’ll segue into a broader discussion of the stories that will encourage other readers to chime in with their theories, enthusiasms, or pet peeves. Some weeks, I might not talk to Scalzi; I could talk to his editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, or to other SF authors I know are following the story avidly, or maybe to some television folks who have thoughts about the episodic format. There’s a lot of ways we could go with this!

One person I’m almost positive I’ll be talking to at some point, if I have my way, is John Harris, who will be doing all the cover art for each installment. The Human Division is set in a fictional universe that Scalzi began delineating with his debut novel, Old Man’s War; Harris did the cover for that, and for every book in the series that followed. I’ve been given the opportunity to share with you the artwork for the seventh episode, “The Dog King,” which really sets a fantastic, “big science fiction” tone. “I’m just tremendously excited to show off Harris’ work to everyone,” Scalzi emailed me earlier this week, when I asked him about the artwork:

The Dog King, cover

“Seriously, I did little kid squees at each of them. Harris had access to the stories as I was writing them, so the images are inspired by stories, with extra Harrisosity added (as it were). So, for example with ‘The Dog King,’ there’s a cave system in the story, so Harris conjured up these really amazing cave images that you’ll see on the cover. Harris excels at epic images, so most of them are in that vein, but there are a couple that are more intimate scenes as well.”

I haven’t seen any of The Human Division yet, although I did hear Scalzi read a brief section from the first episode this summer when he was on tour for Redshirts. So I know it’s likely to make me laugh out loud in some spots and cry in others, quite possibly within the same episode. I can’t wait to get hold of it, or to start talking about it with other Scalzi fans—and maybe, along the way, recruit a few new fans to the cause.

6 December 2012 | read this |