The Meats and the Maths
Episode 5: Tales from the Clarke
Remember Captain Coloma from way back in Episode 1? That would be the gruff-but-caring Captain who's all righteous but really cares most about her crew. If you recognize that characterization, then it's because you read it in my review of Leviathan Wakes, and recall the phrase as criticism of that book's reliance of stock characters. Only, Captain Coloma isn't a stock character. Or maybe she sort of is, but it doesn't really matter because she's interesting! That's right--a female authority figure who is actually interesting! The fact that this excites me shows how low the bar is set for gender relations in science fiction and fantasy, but credit Scalzi with taking the obvious stock character, making her a woman and then making that an asset. Basically any scene with Coloma is gold, and here we get a whole chapter--a whole chapter whose plot is convoluted and full of irritating America-in-space-isms, but which is rendered compelling by the fact that it's about Coloma. Fingers crossed that we get at least one more chapter from her perspective.
[INPUT 8/10 (+1 for Coloma; -1 for baseball...really?) OUTPUT 8/10]
Episode 6: The Back Channel
At this point I'm giving up on the whole "this is like a serialized TV show" idea, because it's just not. Why? Because in six episodes to date, three are interludes that don't feature any of the central characters. And that does create problems for The Human Division specifically as a serialized novel (there is, after all, a very good reason why TV shows don't really do this). But unlike the frustrating interlude we get in Episode 4, this one is a total blast to read. It's definitely the funniest entry so far, and introduces a great character in Hafte Sorvalh--advisor to Conclave leader General Gau and lover of churros. You can really feel Scalzi hitting his stride at this point.
[INPUT 8/10 (+1 for Sorvalh and the churros; +1 for space neo-nazi douchebags being just as fun to shit on as regular neo-nazi douchebags; -1 for it's another interlude) OUTPUT 9/10]
Episode 7: The Dog King
[INPUT 6/10 (+1 for yes, it is genuinely funny; -1 for but I was expecting a bit more than just wacky comedy) OUTPUT 6/10]
Cumulative Score - Episodes 1-7: 7.57