Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Collapsing Empire: John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire, published in 2017, is the first book in a science fiction trilogy about an empire of worlds connected by travel via The Flow.

This is the description of The Flow from the hardcover dust jacket...
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. 
Using The Flow, humans have left earth and populated other worlds. Each of the worlds settled by humans is dependent on the others for various supplies, and the worlds have joined together in an Interdependency.

I have a theory that all novels have an element of mystery to them, and that seems especially true with science fiction. I have discussed this before when reading in this genre. While reading I ask myself, what is the problem or issue of the book? How will it be solved? What is the author going to do with this story? What will happen with the main character or the relationships? And this certainly applies here.

An interesting part of the story is that a new leader of the Interdependency, the Emperox, comes to power. A young woman, Cardenia Wu-Patrick, takes over the position after her father's death. The previous heir, who had been trained for the role, died unexpectedly. Cardenia takes the official name of Grayland II upon ascending to the throne. The novel tells of her adjustment to the role and her responsibilities as the Interdependency faces new challenges.

There are many other interesting characters, including Count Claremont, who has been studying the potential collapse of The Flow, and his son Marce, who is sent to the Emperox to share that information.

The ending is somewhat abrupt, a cliff hanger I suppose. But I knew going in that this could happen, since it is a trilogy, so that did not bother me.

What I liked about this book:

  • I like Scalzi's writing style. It pulls me in and I find his books hard to put down. He writes dialog well and this is a dialog-heavy book.
  • Although it is a serious novel, it was fun to read.
  • I enjoyed Scalzi's world-building and the premise of a very complicated system holding worlds together that was going to collapse.
  • Many of the characters are strong, intelligent women in important roles.

I found nothing to dislike. I will give the warning that there is a lot of profanity. Including profuse use of the f-word by some of the characters.

While reading about The Interdepedency on TV Tropes, I learned that the "x" in Emperox is silent. The correct pronunciation is "EM-per-oh". This is never explained anywhere, and of course that is NOT the way I pronounced it, and I don't know if I can retrain myself when reading future books. Wil Wheaton is the narrator of the audiobook and that is the way he pronounced it, as instructed by John Scalzi.

Richard Robinson at Tip the Wink has read all of the books in this trilogy. See his posts here and here.


Publisher:    Tor Books, 2017
Length:        329 pages
Format:        Hardcover
Series:         The Interdependency, #1
Genre:         Science fiction thriller
Source:        On my TBR pile since 2017.


Cath said...

I'm pretty certain my husband reads this series and it's one I have in mind to read along with Asimov's Foundation books. I can't call myself a sci-fi fan if I haven't read books by either of these authors can I? LOL (Although I'm certain I've read other books by Asimov of course, just not his Foundation series.)

Margot Kinberg said...

This one does sound interesting, Tracy. I like it when an author includes elements of more than one genre in a story (and, to be truthful, I think that happens a lot, since it's really hard to separate those elements). And I'm glad you mentioned the writing style. That has a lot to do with what we think of a story.

TracyK said...

Cath, John Scalzi has an earlier series that is military science fiction, and I read the first two in that series. I liked that one very much too. And the two series are very different. I agree, you should try something by Scalzi. I have read other Asimov too but I want to read more.

TracyK said...

I agree, Margot, writing style is important, but I often have a hard time describing what I like in that area. I just know that I like Scalzi's way of telling a story.

Rick Robinson said...

Glad you liked it.

@Cath: I suggest you try his Old Man's War books first. As for Asimov, I think a better place to start would be the I, Robot books.

TracyK said...

Me too, Rick, now I can look forward to the other two books in the trilogy.

I am going to have to look into the I, Robot books. I haven't tried those. The first one is short stories? Some are novels and some are short stories? My, Asimov wrote a lot of books, fiction and non-fiction.

Cath said...

Rick: Thanks for your input. I'll have a look at those, I've heard of them of course but wasn't sure if they were for me. I, Robot I've not read just seen the film, suspect the books are different.

col2910 said...

Tracy, probably not one for me. Glad you enjoyed it though.

TracyK said...

Col, Scalzi is one of the science fiction authors that take me away from concentrating on crime fiction. But I agree, not your type of book.