Book Review: The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
My rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 stars)
Publisher: Tor Books

This may be the best set up a series book I've ever read. It was pithy, witty and I read 85% of it during Superbowl Sunday (mostly during the game), so an insanely swift read.

That it's heavier on dialogue than exposition helped to that end but that's not to say that the world-building much lacked. Were the characters terribly deep? No, but there's enough for them to well service this story and I was able to keep up with all of them and remember their names and Houses. For the record, House Nohamapetans is peopled with a bucket full of bad apples. They were so craven that I felt no sorrow that their world is next on the list of cut off planets in The Interdependency. I don't want to even meet any more people from their House as the ones left alive by the end of this book are more than enough to contend with. And having them learn the hard lesson of hanging so many of your plans on work that's not gone through Peer Review was fabulous.

Now a word about f-bombs. I think I'm generally burnt out on f-bombs from television shows between The Affair, Billions, & Succession and am not usually presented with so many instances in the books I tend to read. There's so much f-bomb deployment by one particular character here (apparently it's a House feature) that not only did it lose its shock-value and effectiveness for exclamation (though it did retain scant viable amusement factor) it made me feel that "Curse like a Lagos" should be a thing. Personally, I found Lady Kiva's wittier moments were when she didn't even bother with the cursing (most specifically with Sergeant Pitof) but overall, she was definitely one of the more colourful characters here. While I get that the profanity for her is her main characteristic, I liked her mother, Huma more. Anyone can be mouthy and vulgar but Huma was also able to marshal her tongue and use her brain to game out a very problematic corner House Lagos was being painted into. Kiva does display this ability earlier in the story while on her ship but it abandoned her once she reached Hub. Hopefully, it'll return in the next book.

I'm completely pulling for Grayland II/Cardenia (my favourite character so far) to prevail and can't wait to find out what's been going on on End in the interval that's passed since the outgoing Flow shoal closed. I was surprised and disappointed that the story never went back to give a peek of what happened next. Like many of the threads of the story, the narrative propels you forward and the urgency is real and down to the last seconds, leaving you hyped and wondering what's next and when will you get back to it. I have the second book in the series so I'm sure I can get some answers sooner than not but the third book isn't out until 2020 and I'm afraid the second ends in a way that I'll start "cursing like a Lagos." Recommended.

Summary: 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.

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