The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi is the introductory volume of a new series called the Interdependency.
“I’m continually confronted with the human tendency to ignore or deny facts until the last possible instant. And then for several days after that, too.”
The Interdependency is an intergalactic empire composed of humans who millennia ago left Earth. The Flow is a sort of cosmic phenomena that facilitates travel between the dozens of star systems that compose the Interdependency. As the name states, this intergalactic organization has been shaped into an economic model in which each system is dependent on others to survive. This means, in theory, that no system could survive indefinitely on its own. Too bad that the Flow is about to collapse! Meaning every system will be cut off from one another.
Now, this is the general plot of the book but there’s more to it than that. This empire is made up of family houses who essentially control the economy of the Interdependency. This means there is a lot of rivalry between the houses who are vying for political and economic power.
Most of the characters I found that they did not have something to make them stand out and they seemed rather 2 dimensional, like Lord Marce.
Two central characters stood out for me. One, was outspoken, no-bullshit Kiva with her kick ass, take names later attitude which was immensely humorous and you can’t help but say, “I wish I had the guts to say things like that whenever I want.” Second, was Cardenia, emperox of the Interdependency. I sympathized with her situation, being thrust into the position of leader of the Interdependency only to find out difficult truths regarding the position she never wanted.
“Human institutions tend to drift from their creators’ intent over time.”
This is a good sci-fi read in which its ending establishes a solid continuation for the rest of the series. Although it had some good parts, this read didn’t win me over completely. Also, whats up with those ship names (like Yes Sir, That’s My Baby)? Maybe it’s supposed to be intentionally funny so I didn’t think much of it although it was kind of weird.
Also, there was much to be desired description wise. I felt there was so very little description of this futuristic world that a lot is left to the imagination of the readers. Things like environments, be it space or on a planet are often given a cursory description if they even have one. They are almost no descriptions of physical characteristics of characters. This lack is not necessarily a bad thing although as a reader they are things I enjoy and help me imagine what the author has in mind regarding the world he’s building and the characters.
One of the books strongest points is its social commentary through the flawed system of the Interdependency and how it was founded. While I can very much appreciate this, it does not level out the fact that for me this book was good but not great. Might be an unpopular opinion as I’ve seen many sci-fi fans sing praise for this book so anyone who is a sci-fi fan should definitely give this a chance.
The ending got me pretty excited for whats to come that I almost upped my rating by one.
A good read and a promising start.
3 out of 5 mortars