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.
Author: John Scalzi
Category: Science Fiction
Publication Date: March 21st, 2017
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The Collapsing Empire imagines a future for humankind in which humans have long ago left Earth and settled on dozens of new planets forming the Interdependecy, a system in which all planets and settlements rely on each other in order to prevent any motivation for interstellar war. The success of the Interdependency hinges on the Flow, a warping of space-time that allows for faster than light travel. As luck would have it, scientists are now discovering that the Flow may be breaking down which would lead to the end of life on all the settlements that were created to rely on others that they will no longer have communication or trade with once the Flow dissolves.
This was a wonderful space-opera-esque story that didn’t rely on the density of most space opera books. It is a quick, fun read that has almost no slow points.
The main complaint with this book? That there wasn’t more of it.
As engaging as this story was, it felt like a very long introduction into the conflict. There was almost no action, the focus was largely on setting up the politics. Again, that was not necessarily bad, this was still a really good politically driven book. But there was constantly times where there was almost some action and then it was all resolved with dialogue instead and it kind of left an anti-climatic feeling.
The Flow is a really inventive take on faster than light travel and because it is it’s own thing that is separate from technology but is required for trade and communication. While it might have taken away from the “accessibility” of the writing, it would have been nice to see a little bit more of the science behind the fiction. There is not really an explanation for why the Flow is breaking down, just that it is. This was certainly not a deal-breaker but it would have added a little more immersion into the world and the conflict.
Finally, the last bit that it would have been nice to get more of is the religion. One of the main characters, Cardinia, is a leader both politically and religiously. While the politics was explored fairly deeply, the details of the religion are pretty much absent. Again, this is more a matter of immersion than a true flaw in storytelling. There are a few plot points that revolve around Cardinia being the head of the only mentioned religion but the details are just not there.
I think that these “flaws” are largely derived from an effort to give readers that don’t like science fiction space operas purely based on the density of the books a positive experience in the genre. It is kept almost as brief as possible while still telling an engaging story.
With that in mind, I was able to not focus on what was missing too much and enjoy what was there and what was there was a great introduction into a new imagining of the future of humankind after Earth.
This one came out of no where for me. The politics and the mechanics of the flow were both in treating. The fact that I was wanting more from this very short book just shows how fun this world is. Pirates, conspiracies, and some secrets makes this series one I am looking forward to!