Shortly after I mentioned needing something to lighten my mood a bit following my last book review, I stumbled upon just the read I needed. Always good for a laugh and some fun sci-fi hijinks, John Scalzi’s novels always have a place on my reading list and this one popped up at just the right time. Published in October 2018, this is the second book in the ongoing Interdependency Trilogy that I began back in July of 2017.
Taking place shortly after the end of the previous novel, Cardenia Wu is now fully established in her position as Emperox Grayland II and desperately working to hold her empire together. Facing the impending collapse of the Flow, the natural phenomena that links all human settlements and makes space travel possible, and a continued opposition to her reign from the influential Nohamapetan family, she must battle every step of the way to make sure her voice gets heard. Standing alongside allies like scientist Marce Claremont and ruthless business woman Kiva Lagos, Cardenia must by any means necessary find a way to convince her various constituents of the reality of Flow collapse while fighting well-coordinated attempts to undermine her authority.
As expected, this was a fun, rollicking romp of a space adventure featuring a compelling world, complex political scheming, and some pretty spot-on satire covering a variety of timely topics like religion, the role of corporations, the denial of climate change, and the willingness of corrupt individual to use lies and rumor to subvert reasoned discourse. Seeing as I tend to agree with Scalzi’s nominally left-leaning, irreverent slant on these issues, I found these things all rather wonderful in a cynically mirthful sort of way. Playing an integral role in moving this forward was an amazing collection of characters with absolutely hilarious inner monologues that alternated between dry wit, spit-fire obscenities, and chuckle out loud observations. The people you root for, like Kiva and Cardenia, and against, looking at you again Nohamapetans, were equally joyful to behold and really made the story for me. Kiva, despite an uncharacteristic attachment to a certain lady friend, was as rowdy as ever, though it was easily Cardenia that impressed me the most this time around. It was absolutely fantastic to see her embrace the role of Emperox and embark upon a mission to expertly stick it to the people oh-so desperately have it coming.
In short this story absolutely delivered the good, fun read I was hoping for and have come to expect from this author. This book was an excellent reminder of why Scalzi is one of my favorites and if you’re a fan of his work I highly recommend checking out this series if you haven’t already. My only regret here is that I am going to have to wait for the final book to come out!