Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review: Tales from the Clarke (Human Division #5) by John Scalzi

Tales From the Clarke (The Human Division, #5)Tales From the Clarke by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the fifth of thirteen installments in John Scalzi's serial novel, The Human Division. This one focuses on Captain Sophia Coloma, the captain whose rash selflessness saved the Colonial Union from a diplomatic incident.

Once again, the serial format works in the installment's favor, as a character we've only seen glimpses of comes front and center. Scalzi doesn't waste words telling us why we should root for her; he simply reminds us of what we've seen of her character so far, and reinforces it through her decisions and motivations. I found myself wishing we'd had more of her perspective, though the story so far doesn't justify such choices. She's resourceful, loyal, and quick-thinking.

I'm curious to see where all of this is going, or if Harry Wilson, the soldier at the center of most installments, is starting to see a pattern. We haven't yet seen where "A Voice in the Wilderness" fits into all this, though it's clear there's some greater force at work, and it may not be to everyone's benefit.

We shall see.

I listened to the audio of this installment, once again. William Dufris, luckily, does not affect a falsetto to narrate female characters. They wind up sounding perhaps a bit tougher and more hardened than the author may have intended, but it works for me.

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  1. Wilson's first name is Harry, not Mike!

    I finished this chapter the other day, and it wasn't bad. The first chapter was still the best.

    I've noticed that Scalzi stumbles on exposition. Do we need to be reminded who Coloma is and what she did? I don't think so. No one is going to pick this chapter up cold, without having read the previous installments. The previous material is also very short and simple. Not a strain to keep in one's memory banks.

    So why do I feel like Scalzi is writing as if these were parts of a TV miniseries spaced out over the course of a year?

    Rather than have characters banter/bicker back and forth about previous events, revealing clunky dialog, maybe the writing would be better served with a 3rd person synopsis at the start of the chapter.

    John Scalzi is at his best dealing with big ideas, the implementation of technology, and creative action set pieces. He should work on his dialog.

    1. Ha, whoops. You are correct. Harry. That's the trouble with reviewing audio. I can't open the book to double-check names. I'll fix it.

      I agree that Scalzi's strong point isn't dialogue, and listening on audio doesn't help. "He said" and "She said" is harder to ignore, listening. It breaks the rhythm, and, when it sounds clunky to begin with, it's a problem.