The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

Book Review

 


The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Political

Book Series: The interdependency #1

Released: 3/21/17

Pages:336  Price: $25.99 hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this book from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

The first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new universe by the Hugo Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Redshirts and Old Man’s War.

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. When it’s discovered that The Flow is moving, possibly cutting off all human worlds from faster than light travel forever, three individuals — a scientist, a starship captain and the Empress of the Interdependency — are in a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.

My Review:

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this but I’m DNF a Scalzi book.  I am on page 178, for future reference if I decide to try again, and am just struggling to get into this story.  I made it halfway through the book and just don’t care.  I don’t want to read another page and it is dragging down my reading groove so this is where I part ways with this book.  Not the author because I still think he is brilliant but this book is simply not what I’m looking for.  I know that many of you love it so please don’t send hate mail/comment, let’s keep the pitchforks to ourselves, shall we.

The book started off slow with not enough background information to help you figure out what was going on.  Like another reviewer stated it was if you were picking up a story already in progress and nobody was going to catch you up.  Also, way too political for me right now.  A government controlled by corporations IS our reality!  I read to escape and this was no escape.  Of what I read it was about the haves lording over the have-nots and I just don’t want to read that right now.

I’m sure Scalzi is making some great parallels to our society which is what great fiction does but I don’t have the patience to wait for the come-up-ins.  I also struggled to identify with any of the characters or even find one to root for.  They felt flat or wishy-washy.  I wanted someone to grab me and give me a reason to keep reading.  None of the characters managed that.  Quite frankly I don’t care what happens to any of them.  I would be curious to learn how humans ended up in this multi-planet system but it was never explained thoroughly and it didn’t feel like Scalzi was going to bring us back to why we left Earth in the first place.

Kind of disappointed but oh well.  I wish I had figured out sooner that it wasn’t a good fit and given up a week ago.  I’m not giving up on Scalzi, however.  There are still books of his I want to read but this series… I think I’ll pass.  Thanks.

My Rating:DNF

Aurora CV-01 by Ryk Brown

Book Review

 


Aurora: CV-01 (The Frontiers Saga #1)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Audiobook

Book Series: The Frontiers Saga #1:Part 1

Released: 12/19/2011 by Tantor Media

Pages: 301 Price: $29.99 Audiobook

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed this audiobook from my library

 

 

Book Synopsis:

A world recovering from a devastating plague…
A brutal enemy threatening invasion…
A young man seeking to escape the shadow of his father…
A ship manned by a crew of fresh academy graduates…
A top-secret experimental propulsion system…
A questionable alliance with a mysterious green-eyed woman…

What destiny has in store for the crew of the UES Aurora, is far greater than any of them could ever imagine. And this is only the beginning…

“Aurora: CV-01” is 77,000 word novel, and is Episode 1 of The Frontiers Saga.

My Review:

This was a fun audiobook that I borrowed from my library.  After reading some of the other reviews I have to agree with some of the criticism that yes, it is pretty much a Star Trek rip-off.  Maybe not blatantly but the similarities are hard to deny.  But so what.  It is still an action-packed well plotted read that brought me several hours of enjoyment.

Took me a moment to realize this book was set in the extreme far future after most of humanity had been wiped from existence.  After I caught on to that it surprised me just how familiar this society felt to our own, with the exception of space travel that is.  While entertaining the plot was pretty convenient at times as the author set all his characters into place for the longer story arch.  For me it was easy to overlook because when hasn’t a character been in the right place at the right time in works of fiction.

The characters were diverse and likable I would have enjoyed seeing where some of the relationships led towards.  I would have also liked to learn more about what happen to Earth in the past as well as the other colonies that were talked about.  But I’m afraid this is where I leave this universe.

While I truly enjoyed this book it is the only one available through my library so I will not be continuing on because with so many parts out (19), and yet to come (75 total!), this series is simply too expensive for me to continue with… I have suggested my library purchase the next three parts but it is highly unlikely that will happen.  Makes me kind of wish I had looked into the series availability before I borrowed it. I would have skipped it had I know how difficult and costly getting my hands on future parts would be.  Oh, well.  Live and learn.

My Rating:4 Stars

Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi

Book Review

 


Zoe's Tale (Old Man's War, #4)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Fantasy

Book Series: Old Man’s War

Released: 8/19/08 by Tor

Pages: 355 Price: $8.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed a copy of this book from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

How do you tell your part in the biggest tale in history?

I ask because it’s what I have to do. I’m Zoe Boutin Perry: A colonist stranded on a deadly pioneer world. Holy icon to a race of aliens. A player (and a pawn) in a interstellar chess match to save humanity, or to see it fall. Witness to history. Friend. Daughter. Human. Seventeen years old.

Everyone on Earth knows the tale I am part of. But you don’t know my tale: How I did what I did — how I did what I had to do — not just to stay alive but to keep you alive, too. All of you. I’m going to tell it to you now, the only way I know how: not straight but true, the whole thing, to try make you feel what I felt: the joy and terror and uncertainty, panic and wonder, despair and hope. Everything that happened, bringing us to Earth, and Earth out of its captivity. All through my eyes.

It’s a story you know. But you don’t know it all.

My Review:

I have mixed feelings about his addition to the Old Man’s War series.  I did like it but just a little less than the others I’ve read so far.  I have a couple of theories as to why that I will go into in a bit.  I’m glad I read it, however, and would suggest if this is your first time through the series that you do as well.  If I ever decide to reread this series I will probably skip this one, though.

So what held me back from loving this book.  The big issue for me was that this is the same story as the previous book but from a different POV.  While it did shed some light on the action that wasn’t shared in the other book what I just feel like I wouldn’t have missed much by not reading this one.  The other drawback for me was that is a YA book, it reads like YA, I found it annoying like YA… I’m over YA at this point in my life.

That being said, I did find it fascinating that Scalzi did an amazing job of channeling a 17-year-old girl.  Kudos to him.  The drama and angst that he showed through his writing is spot on.   A couple of new scenes dealing with Zoe’s boyfriend were simply heartbreaking and seeing what happen when she left the plant near the end were worth the read.  I don’t know if it needed to read a whole second book to get to those parts, however.

The book did make me want to take a break from the series.  The format is changing for the remaining two books, they were written as serial releases, and I think taking a break and then coming back to this world might make it easier to accept any new changes in formatting coming my way.  I still plan to finish up the series but just not right now.

My Rating: 3 Stars

The Last Colony by John Scalzi

Book Review

 


The Last Colony (Old Man's War #3)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Fantasy

Book Series: Old Man’s War #3

Released: 4/17/2007 by Tor Books

Pages: 320  Price: $7.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I borrowed a copy of this book from my library.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

Retired from his fighting days, John Perry is now village ombudsman for a human colony on distant Huckleberry. With his wife, former Special Forces warrior Jane Sagan, he farms several acres, adjudicates local disputes, and enjoys watching his adopted daughter grow up.

That is, until his and Jane’s past reaches out to bring them back into the game–as leaders of a new human colony, to be peopled by settlers from all the major human worlds, for a deep political purpose that will put Perry and Sagan back in the thick of interstellar politics, betrayal, and war.

My Review:

I continue to work my way through this amazing series and simply marvel at the genius and talent of John Scalzi.  Wow. This author’s work is blowing me away.  To think I met him and did not yet know the magnitude of the work I had yet to enjoy.  Facepalm time.  I am both delighted and horrified that I have the last three books in this series lined up and waiting to be read, I don’t think I will want it to end.

This book brought us back to John and Jane as they have carved out a nice little life for themselves among the colonies. They quickly find themselves drafted back into the war as they become pawns of the colonial defense force.  Again Scalzi does a bang up job of showing us just how crappy humans can be, especially humans that want to keep their corrupt war industry going.

This book gives us everything I love about Scalzi; humor, action with consequences, corruption, honor, and hope.  He takes us on a journey and shows us all sides of the human condition while entertaining us along the way. My main complaint about the book is one plot thread that seemed to go nowhere (indigenous creatures).  Otherwise, this book was pretty awesome.  It did have the feeling of finality to it, almost like he meant this one to be the last and if you are tired of long series you could totally leave this world here and be satisfied.  I, on the other hand, am enjoying the ride so I’m going to stick it out for the next three books (I ordered them already anyway…).

This isn’t a light and fluffy read, there is depth to this series.  But still, if you are simply looking for something entertaining don’t let that stop you.  Hands down this is simply an excellent read no matter how you approach it.  This author is has become one of my favorites.

My Rating: 5 Stars

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

Book Review

 


The Ghost Brigades (Old Man's War, #2)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Space Opera

Book Series: Old Man’s War #2

Released: 5/1/2007 by Tor 

Pages: 347  Price:$7.99 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, http://whatever.scalzi.com/Author’s Site

Source: I own a copy of this book.

 

 

Book Synopsis:

The Ghost Brigades are the Special Forces of the Colonial Defense Forces, elite troops created from the DNA of the dead and turned into the perfect soldiers for the CDF’s toughest operations. They’re young, they’re fast and strong, and they’re totally without normal human qualms.

The universe is a dangerous place for humanity—and it’s about to become far more dangerous. Three races that humans have clashed with before have allied to halt our expansion into space. Their linchpin: the turncoat military scientist Charles Boutin, who knows the CDF’s biggest military secrets. To prevail, the CDF must find out why Boutin did what he did.

Jared Dirac is the only human who can provide answers — a superhuman hybrid, created from Boutin’s DNA, Jared’s brain should be able to access Boutin’s electronic memories. But when the memory transplant appears to fail, Jared is given to the Ghost Brigades.

At first, Jared is a perfect soldier, but as Boutin’s memories slowly surface, Jared begins to intuit the reason’s for Boutin’s betrayal. As Jared desperately hunts for his “father,” he must also come to grips with his own choices. Time is running out: The alliance is preparing its offensive, and some of them plan worse things than humanity’s mere military defeat…

My Review:

There is quite a bit going on plot-wise in this story that I’m glad I’m reading these back to back.  I think in the end it will lead to a richer understanding of not just the story but the greater message that Scalzi is trying to convey through this world.  Because there is most definitely a message or lesson to be found in this world and I wish more people, especially in the current political environment, would read this author’s work.

This story takes place a few years after the first book and is told from the perspective of one of the special forces soldiers.  We also get inside the heads of a couple other characters as well, which is a deviation from the first book which is told from John’s perspective exclusively (I think).  Jane who has a brief, but important, role in the last book is more center stage in book two and by the end you can see pretty plainly how Scalzi is setting up the next story.

Lots of background and politics regarding the Ghost Brigade soldiers in this plot that brings up all kinds of interesting questions about humanity, discrimination, and the bounds of government control, all things I like to ponder being a political junky that I am, of course being a work of fiction we are also entertained.  I have to say, though,  at times Scalzi makes it awfully hard to root for humanity in this world.  He still does an excellent job of shining a big old spotlight at some of our darker aspects of humanity.  There was one scene where I just had to put the book down and collect myself for a moment.  A sure sign of a talented author if you ask me.  I get so wrapped up in the personalities and relationships that I forget the main setting of this book is a universe at war and most of the time that isn’t pretty or safe.

I am looking forward to the next two books and will most likely be ordering the last two next time I go to work so I don’t have to wait.  This is such a rich world, sometimes a bit slow, and definitely not fluff.  I hope you all give this one a chance it is so worth the read.

My Rating:4 Stars

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Book Review

 


Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)Book Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Book Series: Old Man’s War #1

Released: 12/27/05 by Tor Books

Pages: 362 Price: $6.99 paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I own a signed copy of this book.  

 

 

 

Book Synopsis:

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity’s resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don’t want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine–and what he will become is far stranger.

My Review:

Redshirts was my introduction to Mr. Scalzi’s work, then I tried Locked In and was approved (and read) his upcoming release of short stories titled Miniatures I figured it was about freaking time to try the series this author is most known for Old Man’s War.  When I started the book I knew the odds of me liking it were pretty high and figured I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.  I had no idea.  Not a clue of what I was getting myself into.

Let me end the suspense, I loved this book like I loved The Martian sort of love, and if you have been following this blog for any amount of time you know just what that means ( I pimp The Martian frequently).  I have to say this one is most definitely better: deeper, richer characters, more complex plot, just more…  But both are great science fiction stories, just slightly different branches of the genre so it really isn’t fair to compare the two except that they are both these author’s first published work read by me, someone who enjoyed them both.

Like I stated above I really had no clue as to how great this story would be.  It is also a story that I didn’t love every single minute of, it does have its faults in my opinion.  Let’s start there so we can end with the love.  There were a couple of points where I thought some information was conveniently dropped for the reader to have on hand for an upcoming scene.   There was one really bad spot where I was reading and thought where the hell did this come from and why are we getting this little tangent only to have the details become uber-relevant in the next scene.  Made me roll my eyes a bit when I realized what Scalzi had done.  Thought the history or concept we needed to know could have been woven into the story a little smoother.  Not a big deal really.  Another not really problem I had but more of a feeling I felt was that I didn’t quite like humanity for much of this story.  We kind of came off as bullies, arrogant, and entitled in our quest to take over the galaxy.  Our less than favorable traits came shining through, which is perhaps a good thing, too often people forget that humans are not infallible and good vs evil is simply a matter of perspective.

On to what I loved.  The humanity, yes the very thing I was criticizing is also what I loved about this story.  Scalzi shows the good and bad of human nature in this book and we are also treated to just how good humans can be to one another.  The characters made this story, getting to know them and grow with them and grieve them.  Took my breath away at the end.  John is, of course, the main character in this story but also my favorite.  He was everything you would want in a hero and in the end Mr. Scalzi brought me to tears over this man.  His story isn’t done, I believe we return to him in book 3, but man,  I was feeling all the feels for him by the third section of this book.  Of course, there were times that I thought he was a bit too perfect, he has all the answers, always lucky, saves the day one too many times.  He is the hero, though, and Scalzi is no George R.R. Martin (thank God) and does not feel the need to kill off all the likable characters in a story.  If you want that go read A Game of Thrones…  No, Scalzi’s Hero is fairly typical for most stories and a bit too perfect at times.  Still, I loved him and eagerly await book three to see what happens to him.

This was perhaps the best Science Fiction story that I have read in quite some time, definitely as far as space opera’s go.  I must leave this here, as I have book two sitting by my side, go read this book if you enjoy Science Fiction at all.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

My Rating: 5 Stars