cover image The Collapsing Empire

The Collapsing Empire

John Scalzi. Tor, $25.99 hardcover (336p) ISBN 978-0-7653-8888-9

Scalzi (the Old Man’s War series) delivers a strong opener for his fast-paced new space opera series, setting up key players along the primary travel corridor of an empire overflowing with complex interactions among nobles, politicians, business interests, and an unstable physical environment. The Interdependency is a collection of far-flung, human-colonized, barely habitable planets strung together by the Flow, a naturally occurring, limited-access, faster-than-light network. The planets are governed by the concept of obligate mutual reliance and ruled by those who control access to the Flow, but a change to the Flow that would leave established planets isolated to die seems imminent. This would disrupt the plans of the ambitious noble Nohamapetan family, which is involved in a rebellion raging on the outermost planet of End; Kiva Lagos, the foul-mouthed, opportunistic owner’s representative on a starship owned by one of the Nohamapetans’ rivals; Marce Claremont, a scientist carrying data from years of secret research into the Flow; and the young new emperox, Cardenia, guided by her simulated ancestors. Scalzi’s storytelling centers on dynamic and quick-thinking players with strong personalities who engage in spirited social interactions, making the slightly dubious physics forgivable. Expect several future works set in this sprawling universe. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, Ethan Ellenberg Literary. (Mar.)