My thoughts on this Hugo Nominated book –
“Our universe is ruled by physics and faster than light travel is not possible — until the discovery of The Flow, an extra-dimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transport us to other worlds, around other stars.
Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It’s a hedge against interstellar war — and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.
The Flow is eternal — but it is not static. Just as a river changes course, The Flow changes as well, cutting off worlds from the rest of humanity.”
I usually never paste Synopsis of a book but in order to explain what this book is about, I had to paste it this time. As the synopsis suggests, this new space opera is about “Flow” and it’s collapse or changes.
I went into this book with low expectations since many people were let down by this book. I still had a feeling that I will like it, since I generally love Scalzi’s writing style, the humor, wit and hard sci-fi elements in his books. His books are extremely entertaining and fun to read. And I wasn’t disappointed at all. This is how space opera should be written. The expanse series has been overhyped for no reason and I hate that boring series. This series by John Scalzi needs to be called “Game of Thrones in space” and not Expanse. If you did not like The Expanse, do give this series a shot.
The world building was mind blowing. It reminded me of Foundation series sometimes. The way different worlds are interconnected by flows and how there is a hub which is where the emperor lives. Also how humanity has used flow and built civilizations using these flow streams to far flung planets. I liked how habitability of a planet was not the deciding factor and instead, flow streams decided where the humans will settle in the galaxy. Also different guilds and nobles controlling various planets along with a Duke reminded me SO much of medieval fantasy.
Then the characters. All of them were interesting and had shades of grey. Everyone was more concerned about their and their guild’s well being and they were ready to cheat anyone and everyone. Natashe sounds like a kickass character and I want to see more of her political games in the next book. The book initially has 3 POVs – one of Cardenia, the new empress who doesn’t want to be an empress, one of Kiva who swears a lot and the other from Marce Clairmonte who seems innocent but intelligent and then all these 3 POVs merge together since they all get thrown into the political war. And on top of that, flow streams start collapsing. The two female main characters and one female antagonist were all great characters. I also loved Huma, Kiva’s mom. I hardly see male authors portraying women this well in novels. Mr. Andy Weir, take some lessons from Scalzi on how to write women characters and still make them sound “women” and not horny boy/teenager.
The plot did take some time to develop and it was slow moving. The first half of the book felt more like 4 stars but the second half was a solid 5 star read. Slow pacing was necessary since the world and the characters had to be introduced to us readers. I am sure the next book will be more fast paced since the last part of this book was action packed too. I loved the shocking twist at the end and I am waiting for the next book eagerly.
If you are looking for a solid space opera which has political intrigue and characters who are all f**ked up, you will not be disappointed. There is a lot of diversity in characters too. The other thing that I liked was that it was not gritty or too dark. It reminded me of my favorites like Star Wars which did have politics and some dark elements, but still were entertaining and not too dark. Like I mentioned, I read in order to escape and not to get depressed so Scalzi’s books work well for me. Do listen to the audiobook version as it makes the experience even better. I love the fact that Wil Wheaton is the narrator for Scalzi’s books.
Highly recommend it. 5 f**king stars (I heard F**k way too many times in this book). 🙂 My vote for Hugo awards will go to this book, unless some other book on the list impresses me. Someone please make this a TV series.