Book Review (SERIES): The Interdependency

John Scalzi knows how to write. If you like science fiction, the Interdependency is for you.

The Interdependency series by John Scalzi

  1. The Collapsing Empire
  2. The Consuming Fire
  3. The Last Emperox

Amazon Cover


Our universe is ruled by physics. Faster than light travel is impossible—until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field available at certain points in space-time, which can take us to other planets around other stars.

Riding The Flow, humanity spreads to innumerable other worlds. Earth is forgotten. A new empire arises, the Interdependency, based on the doctrine that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war—and, for the empire’s rulers, a system of control.

The Flow is eternal—but it’s not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well. In rare cases, entire worlds have been cut off from the rest of humanity. When it’s discovered that the entire Flow is moving, possibly separating all human worlds from one another forever, three individuals—a scientist, a starship captain, and the emperox of the Interdependency—must race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.



When an Empire is built on certain things, like regular crops, the backs of serfs, or an intragalatic Flow (think gulf stream or jet stream – where people used the quick travel benefit long before they understood how fluid dynamics on a global scale worked), and the certain things break, The Collapsing Empire results.

John Scalzi has nailed this tragic tale with his normal snide humor (toned down just enough for the disaster about to ensue).

It’s a tale as old as time. Viking populations grew doubling and tripling during a couple centuries of warm weather and active crops in the north; when the weather changed stopped, Vikings started raiding instead of trading as their people starved to death and eventually escaped to warmer climates except for a few hardy souls unable to leave their home. The Incas, Feudal Europe, and the Roman Empire all fell because plague wiped out communication (messengers) and food production (serfs/slaves) – it didn’t matter if the healthy rich remained when all the fields are fallow.

Now the Interdependency will fall as the Flow slows and stops.

The results will be hideous for a culture artificially sustained for a thousand years by forcing interdependency between systems – no single system can survive on its own by design. A far-flung gestalt of independent (yet interdependent) space stations and bio-domes on inhospitable planets are about to be cut off from everything. Machines will fail as unavailable parts will prevent maintenance; food unable to grow in certain bio-spheres will mean rampant malnutrition as various required nutrients are not consumed (like citrus/vitamin C and scurvy); … the list goes on.

Mr. Scalzi has done an excellent job of setting up the world of The Collapsing Empire. I’m almost scared to follow this dark rabbit hole, even though I think he will concentrate on the areas where humanity will survive and succeed rather than the systems doomed to failure. The fact remains the world-building setup of this first novel of the series establishes the second and third world-building levels of the collapse and I will know what is happening “off-stage” without him needing to show it. (Great job!)

The question I hope will be asked by someone in book two is “If the Flow’s collapse can be tracked, can we predict where and how it will turn back on again?”

Note: One of the main characters speaks nearly exclusively with the f-word. I’ve run into this in about three or four books now by different authors. I really hope it is a phase the publishing industry gets over soon, because *tiresome*.

Note: One of the main characters uses money and position to force people into a situation where saying “no” to sex is impossible – people who work for this particular MC’s family mostly (think skanky boss). If the MC was male, readers would be up-in-arms. It should be no different because the MC is female. But she isn’t the sympathetic part of the MC cast (another female and male hold those slots).

The cast has two sympathetic, compassionate people (who you hope end up with each other). And two power-hungry monsters (and their clans) who hate each other and will be using the chaos of The Collapsing Empire to continuing their long-standing feud.


Amazon Cover


The Interdependency—humanity’s interstellar empire—is on the verge of collapse. The extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible is disappearing, leaving entire systems and human civilizations stranded.

Emperox Grayland II of the Interdependency is ready to take desperate measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least an opportunity to an ascension to power.

While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are prepare for a civil war. A war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will between spaceships and battlefields.

The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, as are her enemies. Nothing about this will be easy… and all of humanity will be caught in its consuming fire.



The slow moving doomsday continues its avalanche down the slope of time at the Interdependency. The End doesn’t appear, but the teaser at the back of the kindle indicates we will return to this last bastion of humanity next round. Instead we get to see the Emperox in all her glory doing the backdoor maneuvering to save as much of humanity as possible and the forces in the Empire arrayed against her. We visit the scientists and see how science is always improving/changing theories as new information becomes available. And important to me: the skeevy relationships are replaced with consent.

Overall I like this book better than the first one. The characters continue to be developed. And the layers to the universe world-building are getting deeper and deeper. But not one moment do you think this is going to end up well, it is just a question of how bad will it be – remaining true to the premise.


Amazon Cover


The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems—and billions of people—are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction . . . and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.

Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of this collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people form impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough.

Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization . . . or the last emperox to wear the crown?



While there is life, there is hope.

The Interdependency will fall. A failed experiment that lasted a thousand years, rising from the ashes of its predecessor and the predecessor before then. Humanity continues, but living in interesting times means no guarantee of a large portion of humanity continuing.

Unless we work at it, together. Science needs groups work. Creation requires group work. Saving people requires group work. Selfishness can only exist within the construct of acknowledging community is the strongest human survival trait. The Interdependency was built on this concept, a lesson taught in every classroom, every business, every guild.

Some people don’t listen to lessons.

Will the willful ignorant prevail or will those that fight the good fight even when faced with defeat continue?

Thus ends the Interdependency series – read to find the answer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *