My latest read was The Interdependency series by John Scalzi. It is a space opera trilogy. I actually read the first book, The Collapsing Empire, back in 2019. It was a free Tor download. I thought the writing was pretty good and world-building was interesting. Scalzi tends to be less than subtle in expressing his personal political and cultural opinions. I usually try to read authors who have more focus on the craft and storytelling than pontificating on their “world view”, but I decided to put the rest of the this series on my reading list anyway.
The Interdependency is a thousand-year-old empire of 48 star systems connected by the Flow, a network of “streams” allowing faster-than-light travel. Each stream is one way and has an entry point and an exit point. Interstellar trips are not instantaneous—ships carrying mail or passengers from Hub, the capital of the empire and the system with the most Flow connections, arrive at End, the most distant, nine months later—but the network permits life-sustaining intersystem trade. There is no form of communication between systems that is faster them traveling through the Flow.
The empire is ruled by a hereditary ruler, the Emperox, and a group of noble families. In all but one systems, people live in artificial habitats. End is the only planet which can support human life on the surface. A scientist on End discovers that the Flow is collapsing which will cut the interdependent systems off from each other and, ultimately, lead to the fall of the civilization. This setting and premise is the foundation for the story Scalzi tells across the three books.
The Interdependency storyline revolves around a small set of characters including a young Emperox who ascends to the throne unexpectedly at the beginning of the story. The scientist who discovered that the Flow would collapse was a friend of her father. He had sent his son to Hub to warn his friend the Emperox about the collapse. The storyline across the three books is built around these characters. The characters are developed pretty well. The plot is a mix of political intrigue, science, action, and romance. As mentioned, Scalzi is less than subtle in expressing his own political views as part of the story which I felt was more of a distraction than a value-add. I would still probably recommend the series, but that is not without a caveat.
I have several series like this on my reading list. One of the things I have found a little challenging since I started reading every day again is remembering the complex storylines when I pick up a series after several months. There are usually summary reviews to remind you of the basic facts, but those can be pretty light. I decided that going forward I would probably just push through a whole series in one go from now on. For series that are still being actively written, I will have to find a way with my posts about a book to “mark my place” so I can pick up the storyline when the next book is released. What about you? What methods do you use for this?