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.

Flash: Drone

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

The drone returned for a second pass, closer to the fields. Fernando glanced back, disciplining his face to control his worry before returning to watch the group in front of him sweating from their labor. Just one more hour and the harvest would be in. Could the gods and prosperity not give them one more damn hour?

Susanna tossed a bag onto the lorry before jogging over. “We need to leave,” she said in Spanish.

Diez minutos.” Fernando stated. “Diez.

No,” she said firmly, “Ahora.

He watched as the other six people present stuffed their bags as quickly as possible, not checking for disease or insects and climbed onto the lorry with the rest of their scavenging. Fernando nodded. They were right. As much as they needed the food, starving was a step above dead.

Ahora,” he agreed.

Climbing into the front, Fernando pressed his finger onto the sensor and pulled away. Behind them, the drone followed, even when they hit the highway. “Susanna,” he nodded toward to her side of the cab. Frowning, she pulled out the EMP launcher and aimed the rifle-like weapon at the drone.

Two strikes brought it down. A tractor trailer on the other side of the divided highway, heading north to corporate lands, smashed it seconds later.

“We don’t have much juice left.” The woman said in her only language as she tucked the launcher back into its hiding spot. “Maybe one more.”

“We got to find a way to recharge it.” Fernando forced his hands to loosen on the steering wheel.

“All our electric from the solar is going to the medical.”

“I know, I know.” He stared ahead. “We must get more, if only to charge the truck.” He glanced down at the fuel gauge promising another third of a charge. Without the bank of cells on the top of the truck, it would have hit zero long ago. Two weeks between raids to charge the ancient battery took too long.

Si,” she agreed, the other half of the leadership team for their little group of refugees, “pero como?”

“The corporate lands have plenty.”

“No, no, no.” Susanna hit his leg. “You will not go there.”

He looked over, giving her a crooked, sad grin. “Of course.”

“I will hate you forever if you die.” She glared at him before turning her head away.

“I will do my best not to die.”

(words 400;  first published 3/4/2023, from a FB visual prompt for a writing group I belong to – aiming for 50 words)

Flash: Times are a-changing

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash

Cherry blossoms manifest
Renewal planting
Springtime ritual
Lost to climate change nightmare
Food scarcity harvested.

Too bleak? I ask myself, looking up from my poetry to watch the cherry blossoms fall in January from the sudden ice storm. The trees are confused, and the grain harvest needed because even wheat can’t grow in the summer heat anymore is bent over, destroyed. We will scavenge what we can of the grain tomorrow.

(words 75;  first published 3/19/2023, from a FB visual prompt for a writing group I belong to – aiming for 50 words)

Flash: Pizza and Movie Night Part 2

From the Internet Hive Mind

This appeared as a prompt for a Facebook writing group I’m part of – aim is 50 words, I went a little over. The instruction was include in your flash display(s) of affection which are not overtly sexual. I returned to my pizza couple, one of whom is asexual, both of whom motivated by food and entertainment. They were created in response to the meme asking, “well, what motivations exist other than sex?”


The last of the zombies fell apart sideways under Jae’s machete, transforming into a pile of gelatin-like goo and stark-white bones. Unlike last month’s zombie apocalypse, these bodies will not be going back to their resting places. No one would be identifying shit.

They shook off their blade while I considered my shotgun. I ran out of cartridges over an hour ago and had switched to bashing. I really needed to carry more ammo, replacing guns cut into my anime budget.

“Behind.” Jae whispered before wrapping their arms around me, leaning their head on my shoulder. With one hand they pushed down the mangled gun, and with the other they had their cell phone positioned so we could both see it. We had heard the all-clear song a lifetime ago, or maybe it was six minutes ago, according to the text time log.

They thumbed through the message giving details about what the Alpha mage team had accomplished, and what cleanup and fallout could be expected.

“You smell.” I whispered, nudging my head against their ear.

“Not all of us kill at a distance, hon.”

“Hey, does that say Gamma team nine is not assigned to cleanup until tomorrow?”

Jae purred against my shoulder. “Pizza and movie night back on?”

“I’m not looking forward to going into the shadow places and pulling out any gooey remains into sunlight for final disintegration, but I do believe our pizza and movie night is back on.” I stared down the street. We never made it to Pizza Guy and Fries; two cemeteries in route gummed up the works. But we stayed between the ground upchucking zombies and our favorite pizza place, so they should still be in business. “Let me check on Buster and his crew and place our order. You go home and shower and pick the movie.”

(words 306; first published May 30, 2022)

Pizza and movie night series
Pizza and Movie Night (2/21/2021)
Pizza and Movie Night Part 2 (3/7/2021)
Mop Up Part 1 (Pizza and Movie Night Part 3) (4/4/2021)
Mop Up Part 2 (Pizza and Movie Night Part 4) (4/18/2021)

Visitor at Movie Night (Pizza and Movie Night – A Flash) (5/23/2021)

Flash: Pizza and Movie Night

7726129 © Alexandros Chamilakis |

“Pizza and movie night!” Jae belly flops on the sofa beside me.

I nod happily, reaching for my phone to order when it buzzes with an incoming text and then an emergency alert. I’m afraid to look but swipe it out of habit.

*Zombie apocalypse*

I show it to Jae.

“Nooooo,” they moan rolling over to reach for their ever-present machete, “It was pizza night.”

“Maybe we can end it quick?” I said hopefully, walking over to where we store the sawed off shotguns.

“Let’s head to Pizza Guy and Fries first and make sure they are okay.”

Few things were more important to Jae than pizza, and if I was honest, me too, so I planned out the route in my head.

(first published 1/26/2021; words 123)

Pizza and movie night series
Pizza and Movie Night (2/21/2021)
Pizza and Movie Night Part 2 (3/7/2021)
Mop Up Part 1 (Pizza and Movie Night Part 3) (4/4/2021)
Mop Up Part 2 (Pizza and Movie Night Part 4) (4/18/2021)

Visitor at Movie Night (Pizza and Movie Night – A Flash) (5/23/2021)