The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi is not only an awesome start to a new series, (or trilogy, however he intends to write this) but it’s also showing the potential that Science Fiction is daring to become: fast-paced, minimal info drops and you don’t need a masters in nanotechnology to understand it.
Just physics – and everyone has one of those degrees, right?
Before talking about Scalzi himself, let me give you a summary of the book, and implore you to pick up a copy.
In The Collapsing Empire there’s an interplanetary “road” called the Flow. It connects the planets humans have come to populate over the past thousand years for commerce and travel. All of these planets exist inside their own individual bubbles, meant to mimic Earth’s atmosphere. All except one: End. Only the planet End is capable of supporting human life on its own.
And? The Flow has started to collapse. Humanity’s survival will fall into the hands of a scientist, a reluctant Empress and a ship’s Captain.
Yeah. Too cool, right?
Let’s talk about why Scalzi, in particular, rocks. I noticed from older sci-fi books—Andromeda Strain or Atlas Shrugged—the trend was toward a slow burn. It takes awhile to understand the world and, at times, it’s difficult to stay with the book.
John Scalzi declares in a firm voice that he will be better than his predecessors at keeping people engaged, wanting more. If you already have this book, check out page 42, Scalzi:
Kiva Lagos was busily fucking the brains out of the assistant purser she’d been after for the last six weeks of the Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby’s trip from Lankaran when Second Officer Waylov Brennir entered her stateroom, unannounced. “You’re needed,” he said.
So. That’s the beginning of a chapter. It’s fast, it’s hot and I don’t think after that anyone would stop reading, throw the book across the room and say, “I’m done. This book sucks.” No way. Everyone would keep reading.
But, perhaps it’s the sex?
Nope. This is just Scalzi’s way of delivering readers into the action. Check out page 130, Scalzi:
Cardenia laughed, stepped to exit the elevator, and then was knocked back into the elevator as the presentation balcony exploded. She was unconscious before her body slammed into the elevator’s back wall.
This quick way of delivering you information is Scalzi’s weapon. He doesn’t do it frequently. He waits for it to mean the most. To make sure you are hooked. This writer. He’s good. I read his Red Shirts awhile back for a graduate class, and I remember enjoying the book but I don’t think Scalzi was doing these sorts of tricks yet: these, ‘keep you here and engaged’ kind of tricks. Anyway, there will be more of the Collapsing Empire novels coming out. Would be a good idea to start now. This already great author is only getting better.