Title: The Collapsing Empire
Author: John Scalzi
Series: The Interdependency #1
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Science Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Tor Books; March 21, 2017
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
The first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new universe by the Hugo Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Redshirts and Old Man's War...
Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible -- until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars. Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war -- and a system of control for the rulers of the empire. The Flow is eternal -- but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals -- a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency -- are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.
Going into The Collapsing Empire, I expected to like it based on what I already knew about Scalzi’s ability to tell a compelling story with interesting characters and even more interesting in-book universes. Even with that in mind, I was still surprised by The Collapsing Empire. And I mean that in a good way. It was a relatively quick read and a good story with a number of interesting components. One such detail was the quirky names of the ships. For example: Tell Me Another One and Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby, among others. I'm not kidding, and more than once I found myself thinking that the names sounded like the punchline to a joke when spoken aloud.
There’s a definite difference between Old Man’s War and The Collapsing Empire. The former had more military elements, while the latter focuses heavily on politics, and as the title suggests a collapsing empire. Even so, there was a substantial amount of action and nefarious plotting throughout the book, as well as political maneuvering done by the main characters and those around them.
This book is told from a couple of different perspectives. Each one had something to offer to the plot, which I appreciated. Having the alternating perspectives in different places around the Interdependency contributed to how expansive the story felt. The distances between the characters were sometimes vast, and it drove home the fact that the story took place in an “interstellar empire”. I expected nothing less.
So, the Flow is a thing. It’s integral to the way the Interdependency functions, and is the sole source of travel between the different systems. Yet, there wasn’t much of an explanation for the origins of the Flow, only how it was being used by the Interdependency. However, the mysterious and formerly static nature of the Flow kind of worked, especially when put into context with the events that took place in The Collapsing Empire.
All in all, this was a very good beginning to a new series. I recommend it to fans of space-opera and those who are already familiar with or want to read a book by Scalzi.