Book Review: “The Human Division #6: The Back Channel” by John Scalzi

The Conclave is a confederation of four hundred alien races—many of whom would like to see the Colonial Union, and the humans inside of it, blasted to extinction. To avoid a conflict that neither side can afford, Conclave leader General Tarsem Gau appoints Hafte Sorvalh to resolve an emerging diplomatic crisis with the humans, before the only acceptable solution is war.

the-back-channelFor the first time in The Human Division we get to see a little about how The Conclave feels in regards to the current rift between Earth and the Colonial Union. I think I might have been somewhat (but not entirely) correct in my assumption that something bigger and more wide-ranging is at play with the Colonial Union and perhaps by extension The Conclave as well.

The Back Channel deals entirely with General Gau, the leader of The Conclave, wanting to communicate with someone from the Colonial Union to deal with a rash of wildcat colonies that have cropped up recently. Gau seems to have his reasons for not wanting to outright destroy these colonies. Politics it seems is the leading candidate. So, Gau sends his most senior aide, Hafte Sorvalh to have a little chat with the Colonial Union’s Colonel Rigby (who just so happens to be the man in charge of all the previous events surrounding the crew of the Clarke).

The usual wishy-washy grandstanding ensues on both sides and then they finally get down to business about how to deal with one particular wildcat colony that for lack of a better way to describe it is populated by a group of bigots and racists. Fun, eh?

Even more interesting is that there is now a quantifiable “back channel” of communication between the Colonial Union and The Conclave. Something I was not expecting to see happen. What could this lead to I wonder.

Unfortunately there is one casualty of all this trouble. A goat. An innocent, sweet, minding-his-own-business-in-the-goat-pen goat. He doesn’t make it out alive. Granted, the effect his demise had on the wildcat colonists achieved Hafte’s ultimate end-goal. Still, why did it have to be the goat? Poor guy.

Next week we continue with episode seven of The Human Division, entitled The Dog King. I really have no way of knowing how that is going to tie into anything so far and the titles of these episodes are really well chosen to make sense given the events they contain.

Grade: A
Length: 33 pages

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble   |   Goodreads   |   Audible


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