The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
Genres: Sci-Fi, Space Opera
Published: 21st March, 2017
Series: The Interdependency #1
Rating: 5

Does the biggest threat lie within?
In the far future, humanity has left Earth to create a glorious empire. Now this interstellar network of worlds faces disaster – but can three individuals save their people?
The empire’s outposts are utterly dependent on each other for resources, a safeguard against war, and a way its rulers can exert control. This relies on extra-dimensional pathways between the stars, connecting worlds. But ‘The Flow’ is changing course, which could plunge every colony into fatal isolation.
A scientist will risk his life to inform the empire’s ruler. A scion of a Merchant House stumbles upon conspirators seeking power. And the new Empress of the Interdependency must battle lies, rebellion and treason. Yet as they work to save a civilization on the brink of collapse, others have very different plans . . .
The Collapsing Empire is an exciting space opera from John Scalzi.

Then there is the way that mutinies actually happen, involving weapons, violence, sudden death, the officer ranks turning on each other like animals, the crew trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. Then, depending on the way things go, the captain being murdered and tossed out into the void, and then everything backdated after the fact to make it look all legal and pretty, or the mutinous officers and crew being shown the other side of an airlock and the captain filing a Notice of Extralegal Mutiny, which cancels the mutineers’ survivors benefits and pensions, meaning their spouses and children starve and are blackballed from guild roles for two generations, because apparently mutiny is in the DNA, like eye color or a tendency toward irritable bowels.

The best book I’ve read this year! This story definitely adds a new spin on “going with the flow”.

I fuckin’ loved the smartass tone, the witty dialogues, the heavy-handed use of the F-word, and the characters, even though some of them were proper assholes. But aren’t we all, sometimes?

Finn smiled.
“You’re definitely your mother’s child,” she said. “She was also blunt and to the point.”
“Yes, we’re a family of assholes,” Kiva said, and the car lurched forward. “Now, explain.”

Even though there’s access to travel between planets, it’s not as easy as one would expect from a story set in the future. No warp speed here, and reaching a destination could take up to a year. This also limits the availability to news as they travel the same way as people. Rumor has it, that the flow system is collapsing, basically cutting planets off from each other. You are not worried yet? Well, you should be! Thanks to the great system where each planet is specialized in something (agriculture, mining, you name it) – hence the Interdependency -, it could be a devastating situation for the inhabitants. Throw in some rebels and terrorists, and you have enough to be stressed out about.

Amidst this chaos, emerges Cardenia, a sort of accidental empress (or emperox, as they call her in the book) and her task is to save the Interdependency, while trying to navigate the political scene full of backstabbers and wannabe rulers.

“They want to preserve an existing potential alliance.”
“An alliance with terrible people.”
“Really nice people don’t usually accrue power.
“You’re saying I’m kind of an outlier,” Cardenia said.
“I don’t recall saying you were nice,” Naffa replied.

Another remarkable character is Kiva Lagos, a representative of one of the merchant houses. One of the best characters across all books I have encountered this year. She’s rude, sexy, no bullshitter, and entirely relatable. If I could be anything, I’d want to be Kiva Lagos. There… I said it.


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