Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: This Must Be the Place (Human Division #10) by John Scalzi

This Must Be the Place (The Human Division, #10)This Must Be the Place by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the tenth of thirteen episodes in The Human Division, John Scalzi's serial SF novel. So far, the even-numbered episodes have deviated from the main plot, and this is no exception.

This story follows Hart Schmidt, Ambassador Abumwe's assistant, on a trip home to the planet of Phoenix. In the Colonial Union's world, it's an important planet, and, it turns out, Schmidt's family is an important part of that planet, deeply entrenched in its politics. It's hard to believe Schmidt is okay playing lackey, having come from such a family, and the narrative addresses that very point.

There are also hints of a sea change in politics, and of Schmidt's father's machinations to keep Phoenix in the family, so to speak.

The holiday Schmidt is going home to celebrate is a Thanksgiving analogue, and much of the narrative plays out like a much-traveled son returning home for Thanksgiving dinner. You have the siblings falling into assigned roles within the family, the nagging from well-meaning parents, the attempted matchmaking, the sneering at his chosen career path, and the inner debate on the son's part of whether the family has a point.

I'm surprised to learn others have intensely disliked this installment. To me, it fits nicely with the pattern of the story thus far, and it gives deeper insight into a character that's been important, in his own fringe way. I liked learning more about Schmidt, seeing his family, and learning about where he comes from.

Once again, I listened to the audio of this story, narrated by William Dufris. Once again, I found it a good investment. Audible members wind up paying less per episode than Kindle readers, which feels like getting away with something.

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