The Human Division, Episode 11: A Problem of Proportion
by John Scalzi, Read by William Dufris
Length: 1 hour, 2 minutes
Hello, and welcome back to our
weekly sorta-weekly listen-a-long of the Human Division, where we get together with all our friends and discuss the latest episode in John Scalzi’s serial novel while alien ships are trying to blow us up. This week’s episode: A Problem of Proportion. If you have a problem with spoilers, you might want to listen first. Otherwise, let’s dive in.
So, we start off with a Conclave ship trying to blast our B-Team and the entire Clarke from outerspace. Additionally, this mysterious ship is also trying to blast the Conclave vessel the Clarke is rendezvousing with from outer space as well! This is bad!
But the Conclave aren’t gonna take some pissy little ship firing on them, so they knock ’em down. Then they surrender to the Clarke, and specifically to Harry (as he’s a CDF marine, ‘natch). Harry does his diplomacy thing with Hafte Sorvalh (remember her?) and Ambassador Abumwe, Sorvalh, Harry, and the rest get to talking and discover what we already know: whoever is snatching the CDF ships is also snatching Conclave ships.
Harry and a crack team of awesome Conclave aliens go on board the rogue Conclave ship to try and figure out what the hell’s going on. There’s nobody on the ship – no trace of life previously on the ship. Creepy. Also, there’s a brain in a box that is controlling the space ship! (What asshole did that!?!?)
Harry and Navill Werd (Weird?) get to talking to Rayth (Wraith?) Ablant (I got nothing) aka the brain in the space ship. Rayth explains was captured by someone he doesn’t recognize, stripped of his body, and told if he wanted to get it back, he’d need to blow some shit up. (Said shit being CDF and Conclave ships). Harry is moved by the horror Rayth’s been put through, and Rayth realizes that unlike the humans he’s heard about, Harry is actually a pretty cool dude, and if he had a body to go with his brain, he would totally go out to a bar with Harry and they’d get drunk together. Harry promises Rayth that he’ll be honest and won’t ditch him, and it’s actually really sweet. The clock is ticking, though, and they have to get Rayth unhooked from the ship before the power fails and he flatlines (basically).
Unfortunately, that’s not gonna work out, because Harry and Werd realize there’s a bomb, and if they try to disconnect Rayth’s brain from the ship…BOOM. So they evacuate. Harry levels with Rayth, and Rayth asks Harry to put him out of his misery. Additionally, Rayth gives Harry the coordinates his abductors told him to fly to when this was all over. Harry says goodbye to Rayth, and then has him zapped. (Poor Rayth!) Then, Sorvalh informs Harry that the coordinates they received were bogus. Rayth never had a chance of getting his body back. (Shocker. And poor Harry!)
Holy crap this was a stellar episode. It had pretty much everything I hope for from Scalzi: Ridiculously fun aliens! Away teams! Banter! Ghost ships! Brains in boxes! And, a surprising bit of humanity! The scenes between Harry and Werd and Harry and Rayth were fantastic. I kind of expected Harry to not be as forthcoming with Rayth as he was in the end, because that seemed like more of an arc. But Harry’s not that much of a brooder, and this worked out fine, and was poignant enough.
So, the Conclave and the CDF…together at last? And you gotta wonder if Harry’s gonna regret asking Sorvalh for that favor? Again, we still have no idea who is behind stealing the space ships, but it’s someone with technology a hell of a lot similar to what the CDF does with Brainpals. And it’s someone who can infiltrate earth itself (see: A Voice in the Wilderness).
I admit I have absolutely no clue who is behind it.
William Dufris had a great time with this one, and it’s infectious. You could tell he was reveling in all the stuff I mentioned above – his readings of Werd and Rayth were especially great. The back and forth between Werd and Harry had me cracking up in places. And then he (and Scalzi) go rip your heart out. Or blow you up in outer space. Well done, gentlemen!