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.
John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors when it comes to Science Fiction and I’m happy to say that he once again did not disappoint. I would even go so far and say I liked this even more than his Old Man’s War series. The Collapsing Empire has one hell of a prologue that instantly sucked me into the story and it only got better from there.
I’m not someone who enjoys rather political stories but here comes along Scalzi and makes it work for me. This is mostly due to me liking the characters A LOT and all their scheming and plotting, them fucking each other over, being pretty entertaining. It’s a very character driven and less action packed story but it works exceptionally well with such well grafted characters.
I always like Scalzi’s characters a lot. Scalzi’s humor is right up my alley and his characters are always able to make me laugh, a lot. The ones in The Collapsing Empire are on an entire differently level than his previous characters though. Two of the three main characters are kickass ladies, who express their power in very different ways. Especially Kiva is a new favorite character of mine now. She has the best lines in this book, her sass dripping from the pages. You can’t but love her even though she is probably the least “likeable” main character of the three, which might be why I love her so much.
While I also like the third main character, it’s the two women that I liked most because I was just too excited about the way women were portrayed in this book. The Collapsing Empire is very sex-positive, the characters having casual sex/talking about it casually (them also being bi). My favorite part was probably when one of them mentioned being on her period and having to deal with that on top of it all. It shouldn’t be a big thing but it’s so damn rare in fiction, it made me quite happy.
These ladies might not literally be kicking asses but they are definitely radiating power.
The world building is exceptionally clever in my opinion. For a science fiction book where the main plot, the possible loss of the flow, is heavily based on science, The Collapsing Empire keeps the science talk to a minimum. I was glad we don’t get bombarded with scientific facts and that Scalzi was able to still make it all believable and comprehensible.
In typical Scalzi fashion, this book will make you laugh while rooting for great characters. The Collapsing Empire has everything I was hoping for, from kickass lady characters, over great humor and sass, to well thought out and engaging world building and plot. Scalzi delivered a fantastic start to a new series which I can’t wait to read more of.