The human empire has spread throughout the stars thanks to the discovery of the Flow, an extra-dimensional field accessible at specific points in space-time (i.e. wormholes) that enables travel to other worlds at faster than light speeds. In an effort to build trust and create control, those who rule the empire require that each human outpost is dependent on another. But the Flow is about to move, cutting off humanity from itself.

This book is a delightfully easy to read space opera, but most of all, it’s funny. Funnier even than normal clever snarky Scalzi. A physicist, a starship captain, and the new Empress of the Interdependency (the entirety of the human empire) each learn of the of the changes in the Flow, and each react independently and with their own motivations, resulting in a fantastic multi-perspective drill down of the Flow concept. The drama lies in the politics, where several powerful houses compete for power and resources near a planet called Hub, which resides at the epicenter of The Flow. The politics don’t really do it for me, though, so the stakes fell a little flat. All of Scalzi’s characters are, well, very Scalzi, so expect a lot of smart-mouthed protagonists, which can be annoying after a while.

The world of The Collapsing Empire is much wider than this first installment allows, and subsequent books in the series have plenty of room to expand. The Flow premise and it’s impending collapse is good scifi fodder with built-in drama, and I’m really looking forward to the next in the series!

Recommended for fans of snarky characters in space adventures!

“You threw him into space?”
“And he didn’t die?”
“We only threw him out a little bit.”