The Collapsing Empire by Jon Scalzi
Published 3/21/17 by Tor Books, 336 pages.
3.5 out of 5
Scalzi is accessible science fiction, and this is Scalzi (the storyteller) at his best. He’s improved at structuring a story over the years, and this is more evidence to support that claim. It’s not the prettiest prose but it is clear, concise and has its own character.
From the prologue, the narration was full of humor and snark, something the author does very well. Mix to that interesting characters - from Cardenia, the new reluctant Emperor of this 'Interdependency' society, Marce, scientist on a mission, to the the foul-mouthed but oddly likeable Kiva - and action scenes, and you have a pretty entertaining read. Scalzi’s dialogue in here is what shines for me. It’s wholly believable and never forced. Most impressive is his ability to deliver a lot of action, background, exposition and character through the dialogue. This cuts down on word count and makes it so much easier to fly through.
Set in a universe where planets in the ‘Interdependency’ are all connected via the Flow. Space travel hasn’t evolved to the level used in most sci-fi stories so the Flow is the only method to get between systems, and for the first time in centuries, the Flow is about to change. Lots and lots of world building and the society here, the ‘Interdependency’ is full of intrigue.
Very much the first book in a series, The Collapsing Empire resolves the main plot expertly while simultaneously paving the way for a lot more stories that will undoubtedly come. All the fun put aside, Scalzi does portray a story focused on power and its abuse. This novel is really ‘just’ an introduction to all the main players.
This series has so much potential that I can't wait to see where Scalzi is going to take it, it has the perfect combination of politics, action and pure madness. Expect cut-throat personalities, manipulations of every kind, crazy politics, deception, and of course a good dose of humor to make it more palatable. Scalzi is really becoming one of my favorite writers, as his work is so readable yet so full of ideas. His science is plausible and he tells it in a way that an ordinary person can understand. He takes serious situations and balances them with snappy dialogue and whimsy. I wouldn't call his work comedy, but there is enough levity in it to keep it upbeat most of the time. I have no idea when the sequel is coming (not soon enough)…For anyone looking to jump into sci-fi but don’t know where to start, here is as good a place as any.
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