Humanity is divided. Until recently, the Colonial Union and Earth had a codependent, if not mutually beneficial, relationship. In the highly anticipated follow up to The Last Colony, The Human Division checks the pulse of the galaxy after John Perry exposed the fact the Colonial Union sequestered planet Earth for two hundred years in order to farm colonists and soldiers. Earth now has a choice: ally with the Colonial Union or join the Conclave, which represents some four hundred alien races.
This time ‘round our tour guide is Harry Wilson, Colonial Defense Force (CDF) soldier and former member of the Old Farts. The Colonial Union is practicing diplomacy and Harry, who has been acting in more a technical than military capacity for several years, winds up a member of the B-Team. Also known as the Fire team, Harry and his cohorts—Ambassador Abumwe, Hart Schimdt of the Diplomatic Service, their reluctant ship’s captain, Sophia Coloma, and a handful of others—attend the lost causes. Situations where diplomacy is about to fail, or has failed, or might fail. Figuratively, they’re assigned a leaky dingy, given a rusted bucket and told to bail. It can’t get any worse, so do your best! Being the good, determined people they are, that’s just what they do.
Though the fate of humanity seems to be consigned to a rapidly oxidizing tin pail, Scalzi still manages to inject humour into nearly every page of the novel. The aliens spit, swear and sob. Diplomacy is sometimes decided by single combat and negotiations are interrupted by a brain in a box. A bush eats a diplomat’s dog. (Oops, the bit about the bush could be considered a spoiler.)
Harry and his team also face peril and sacrifice as they work not only for, but against the Colonial Union and the CDF, the Conclave and a mysterious third party intent on disrupting every attempt at diplomacy.