Friday, April 7, 2017

The Collapsing Empire

by John Scalzi
333 pgs

The Collapsing Empire is the latest book--the first in a new science fiction series--by John Scalzi, an author whose books I’ve only recently begun to read, but whom I’m very excited about. It’s set in the distant future, thousands of years after mankind discovered the Flow and used it to leave earth and begin colonies on dozens of other planets.

The Flow is a natural feature of space-time which allows ships to “ride” it at faster-than-light speed. Consider the Flow as an interstellar river, with natural entrance and egress points called “shoals” along its path. The path of the Flow and the location of the shoals gives mankind access to dozens of different planets, each containing unique natural resources. Once colonized, those planets collectively formed the Interdependency, an interplanetary trade partnership.

But what no one considered when forming the Interdependency, was the possibility that the Flow could change over time. It’s been stable for over a thousand years, but a Flow physicist on End--the last outpost along the Flow--has discovered that that’s about to change. The Flow is about to collapse, isolating billions of people throughout the universe on inhospitable planets which don’t possess the resources needed for survival.

I’ve really enjoyed the books by Scalzi I’ve read so far, Redshirts, Unlocked, and Lock In were all great. This one is just as good. His stories are smart and thought-provoking, his characters are solid and often funny, and he doesn’t shy away from telling a story which also makes some statements about what’s going on in the world today. The Collapsing Empire deftly sets the stage for what I’m hoping is a long series of books to come.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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