If you were holding your breath for the last three years waiting on John Scalzi to write another Old Man’s War book, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that humans can’t live nearly that long without oxygen so you’re probably already dead; the good news is that Scalzi is finally revisiting his most beloved universe, so if you are a zombie or some type of hyper-intelligent fish then it’s time to celebrate!
If you are looking for a modern homage to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers you could do no better than John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War. The first book in the series told the story of John Perry, a 75-year-old widower who decides to leave Earth and join the Colonial Defense Forces, only to find that a life adventuring among the stars could be just as brutal as it was absurd. The book had a great blend of action and humor that made it an instant sci-fi classic. The next few books in the series changed somewhat in tone and scope to tell a more personal story about family and relationships in Scalzi’s universe, with an ending that fundamentally changed the setting. Scalzi said after the end of the series that he wouldn’t return to the universe unless he found a compelling story to tell, but if he did it would likely not revolve around the protagonists from the first four books.
Now Tor Books and Scalzi have announced that the next book in the universe, called The Human Division, will be split up into serialized e-books and released on a weekly schedule between December 2012 and February 2013. Scalzi has said on his blog that the books will each be complete on their own, but also part of The Human Condition‘s larger narrative arc. Each e-book will also feature original artwork by John Harris. If you prefer the look of a book sitting on your bookshelf then don’t worry, because the e-books will later be collected into a hardback edition that will go on sale in May of 2013.
As to why the next book is being released in such a fashion, Scalzi explains:
…the story I wanted to tell wouldn’t exactly work in straight-ahead novel format. Or more accurately, it could work as a novel, but it would better as episodes. While I was thinking this, the folks at Tor happened also to be thinking of trying new ways to work with storytelling, to take better advantage of the potential of the electronic medium. So in one of those nice coincidences that’s really probably not a coincidence at all, I wanted to do something different at the same time Tor wanted to see if doing something different would work. It’s nice when that happens.
There is still no word as to what the book is actually about, but just having the benefit of being in the same universe as Old Man’s War already qualifies it as a must-buy. The first story of The Human Division is titled “The ‘B’ Team” and will be released as a double-sized pilot episode in December.