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  • The Collapsing Empire

  • The Interdependency, Book 1
  • Written by: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (540 ratings)
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The Collapsing Empire

Written by: John Scalzi
Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
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Publisher's Summary

2018 Locus Award, Best Science Fiction Novel

Our universe is ruled by physics, and faster-than-light travel is not possible - until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transports 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. 

©2017 John Scalzi (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Fans of Game of Thrones and Dune will enjoy this bawdy, brutal, and brilliant political adventure." (Booklist)

"Scalzi has constructed a thrilling novel so in tune with the flow of politics that it would feel relevant at almost any time." (Entertainment Weekly)

"Political plotting, plenty of snark, puzzle-solving, and a healthy dose of action…Scalzi continues to be almost insufferably good at his brand of fun but think-y sci-fi adventure." (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about The Collapsing Empire

Average Customer Ratings
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

ok novel

Not as entertaining as other Scalzi novels. I wasn't sad when it was over and I don't think I will read the sequel.

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  • Dan
  • 2019-04-27

well Wil Wheaton was good again

I purchased a few John scalzi novels now and liked all of them except for this one. while Wil Wheaton does another great performance the story was very boring and not very original, it was like a Intergalactic C-SPAN channel put to book. I felt sometimes like I was listening to an Attack of the Clones "Senate edition" of Star Wars it was that bad. I feel we give the classification of Science Fiction too much leeway too, I mean this was basically a political fight , one-upmanship , financial and political maneuvering behind everybody's back, typical and pretty boring cliched story lines.Just because it happened in space it's called Science Fiction ? I didn't fall in love with the characters either. Needless to say I will not be buying the second and third installment of this. Wil Wheaton is once again fantastic but I still have to give this a big thumbs down.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Another winner from John Scalzi!

Another enjoyable book from John Scalzi! a great performance by Will Wheaton! Can't wait to hear the rest of the series.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing!

This is a new favourite. Love experiencing a new Scalzi universe. Great characters! A fun read.

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can't wait for the next!

Such an ambitious story. The universe Scalzi has created here is wondrous! Will Wheaton brings an entreating performance that captivates quickly and assuredly

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Entertaining

A strong story that contains the death of an emperor, illegitimate child, a terrorist act and a civil war.....all the while the empire collapsea. I enjoyes this very much
Wil Wheaton is a terrific narrator.

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  • B
  • 2018-04-07

a good read

it was very good, the beginning I found was hard to follow but I have that issue with every book. very much enjoyed it and looking forward to the next book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great characters and story

Wil Wheaton is great narrator who brings the story to life. I always enjoy his work.
John Scalzi never disappoints.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Empires shouldn't fight

Interstellar empire. Earth has been lost. Powerful houses, internecine skullduggery, civil wars.

Yep. Definitely a space opera.

But not the usual kind. Warfare is not an option, and the laws of interstellar travel are a major limiting factor. This first book was a real page-turner, and I was part way into my next audiobook in the series before I realized it was Book Three!

Unlike Scalzi's "Old Man's War," this series needs to be read in order.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Hilarious

I almost never laugh while reading, or in this case listening to an audiobook, but this one definitely did it for me. Wheaton is perfect for this series and I can’t wait to continue.

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 2017-04-01

THE STUPIDITIES OF COURT

YOUR ALWAYS ALONE INT HE MEMORY ROOM AND NEVER ALONE IN THE MEMORY ROOM
This is filled with lots of LOL moments and some great funny characters. SCALZI humor includes giving funny names to ships, such as the following: TELL ME ANOTHER ONE, I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW, IF YOU WANT TO SING OUT, SING OUT, YES SIR, THAT'S MY BABY and it's sister ship NO SIR, DON'T MEAN MAYBE. The humor is fairly steady throughout the book without being overwhelming.

SORRY, I GOT DISTRACTED THINKING ABOUT SEX
The book is a tiny bit Dune, Game of Thrones, Foundation and The Last Empress. I listened to the whole book and will be buying the sequel, but had it been a different author, I might have given up within the first three to four hours. That is because it is mostly a political book, with Guilds, Courts, Emperors, and Great Houses. The book builds and because the characters are well developed, gets better the longer it goes on. It does not have a lot of science and their are no aliens. It is mostly politics and back stabbing of nobles. STOP WHINING ABOUT IT FOR F SAKE. One of the main characters is a female who cusses like a sailor and has a high sex drive. I found her hilarious.

Wil Wheaton is the best for this. He not only does sarcasm better than anyone else, if you listen during what would normally be considered filler, you can hear him putting everything into to make it sound interesting.

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  • Adam S.
  • 2017-06-10

What Happened Scalzi?

Being a fan of both the, "Old Man's War" series as well as the author's contributions to the METAtropolis anthologies, I blindly purchased The Collapsing Empire. This unfortunately was a complete mistake as I ended hating the writing, loathing most of the characters and rolling my eyes over the the sci-fi concepts introduced in the series. Worst of all was the sarcasm. My god, the main character, Kiva is like some hyper-foul mouthed, self-entitled space-Millennial. Now, I've read my share, and thoroughly enjoyed several stories featuring dislikable protagonists or anti-heroes. However, I think the author's intention was to make the reader find Kiva charming or a tough no-nonsense female Han Solo-esque scoundrel. Instead of charming, I kept hoping she would get dumped out an airlock every time the narrative focused on her. Other characters include a dying space Pope who reminded of Grandpa Simpson and his snoozetastic daughter. I was also disappointed with sci-fi elements of the story which included an intergalactic space highway and a theocratic super government which was hardly fleshed out at all. This book is such a departure from Scalzi's usually superb work, it almost feels like it was ghost written by a far less talented writer. I sincerely hope Mr. Scalzi returns to form in his future efforts and we can dismiss this novel as an unfortunate deviation from an otherwise immensely talented author. Also, Wil Wheaton narration style always bugs me for reasons I have yet been able to explain.

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  • pat
  • 2017-03-25

Definitely not my favorite scalzi

An interesting and engaging story...... Until it peters out with no resolution.

The stopping point of the book feels less like a planed ending and more like the last 50 pages were missing when the book went to the publisher.

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  • R.A.
  • 2018-11-20

Not a Complete Story, Not Scalzi’s Best

Generally Scalzi’s work is right up my alley: I enjoy the mix of tech and philosophical implications of his sci fi, and the often creative world-building that he achieves without belabouring it; this novel didn’t live up to the average of the rest of his books that I have already read (admittedly, only ~5).

FIRST: IT’S NOT A WHOLE STORY

This is not a self-contained story. Not only is it the first instalment of a series, but there is no self-contained storyline in this novel; it is just a novel that has been quite arbitrarily cut off. There is no resolution, and essentially the entire book is just setting the stage for the actual story. Without passing any judgment on this decision, I’ll just say that you should be prepared to purchase the next books in the series, otherwise your wasting your time.


SECOND: IT’S NOT AN INTERESTING STORY

I’m really surprised by this, as Scalzi’s books are usually rich and detailed and have lots of interesting moving parts, but this one just doesn’t. It largely relies on vulgarity for its humour, but that falls flat and eventually comes to detract from the novel itself (being so contrived that it pulls you out of the story).

The characters are 2D — which is pretty standard for Scalzi — but because there’s nothing else really pulling you into the story, it’s rather painful in this one. They all seem to have more or less the same personality: blandly “ironic” and self-deprecating; it gets boring pretty fast.


THIRD: THERE IS BETTER

Both of Scalzi & of SciFi: for Scalzi, I’d suggest “Android’s Dream,”
If you haven’t read it already. Locked In was pretty good as well.


The Narration:

Narration is such a personal thing that I don’t like including it in reviews: either you like Wil Wheaton or you don’t. If you do enjoy him, I envy you, and you won’t be disappointed by this one :)

Personally, I don’t enjoy his narration: I find he only has one mode (over-the-top: his voice literally squeaks when he gets really worked up). HOWEVER, there were a few elements in his narration of this book that were better than usual: he had a bit more diversity in the representation of characters (unfortunately, he reserved it for tertiary characters, so it doesn’t help with distinguishing primary and secondary characters: for example, everyone from a particular family in this book has exactly the same voice - it’s a bit confusing).

Furthermore, for this book, it is particularly difficult to tell if the shortcomings in the narration are latent in the writing, or more related to Wheaton’s reading.

Like I said, if you like him, you’ll like this, if you don’t like him, it’s not going to change your opinion.


ALL IN ALL

A novel that you can listen to while you do something else, but not a complete story, so you’ll have to buy the rest of the series if you want any sense of closure to the story. I wasn’t drawn in enough to bother with the rest of the series, unless it ends up on sale at a very discounted rate. It’s very possible that the complete series would be much more convincing.

Middle of the road, overall - if you like Scalzi & Wheaton, you’ll probably enjoy this; otherwise, pass on it: there is better out there.


Either way - happy listening. If any part of this review was helpful, please let me know by clicking the button, below :) Enjoy!

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  • Ron P
  • 2017-03-29

Just feels small - no sense of scale, so why care?

This is humanity at stake. Gravitas isn't Scalzi's thing, but geez, this one feels like ... who cares? I know I'm in the minority, but this felt like a draft that still needed some pretty hefty structural revisions.

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  • Gonzalo
  • 2017-05-11

Not the best of Scalzi

I like John Scalzi's work and in audio book I prefer it read by Will Wheaton. I was excited by this new book and series. Unfortunately the book in not the best Scalzi. often because of trademark Scalzi traits. The plot of an empire united by a subspace effect that allows for faster than light travel; now endangered because that effect is going away, is very interesting. I wish the author had taken this book more seriously. I like Scalzis humor but it gets in the way of the plot and makes some of the characters shallow and uninteresting. It wouldn't be a Scalia book without sarcasm and wit but it gets too crass and over the top for the needs of this story. The first book of his I read "The Androids Dream" needed it and was hilarious, but "Lock In" toned it down and was better for it. Wish this one had too.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-03-29

Not very well written

cool world, cool economies, bad character arcs and boring antagonists. it's a weak opening to a series.

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  • Silicon Valley Software Veteran
  • 2017-03-22

Male voices for women? 15 people in first 20 min?

Scalzi bombards listener with a barrage of characters in the first 20 minutes. It's an overwhelming sloppy mess. If any listeners truly can follow it all, good for you. You've bested a man with a 157 IQ.
To make matters worse, the narration fails (unsurprisingly) to provide adequate voices for the deluge of characters..and when it finally does, we have an old man voice, and two women with disturbingly male voices with a masculine delivery style. Everyone blames the narrator. But it's not how the business us run. It's the *producer's* fault. So often in the industry, the producers direct the voice talent, literally forcing professionals to render ridiculous performances. Was that the case here? I don't know.
I'm disappointed in Scalzi this time. The introductory chapters of fiction are supposed to draw the listener in. Instead, Scalzi uncharacteristically strays into a machine-gun paced information and character overload style. It didn't serve to draw me in. It repelled me, as if someone sprayed mace at my face from point blank range. I'm outta here, Scalzi.
Last: kudos to Audible for your fantastic policy of refunding customers who don't enjoy their purchases.

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  • d creed
  • 2017-03-28

SI-FI politics...

Good narration. Not Scalzi best book... like listening to the 2016 election but 500 years in the future.

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  • Kate
  • 2017-03-28

The Collapsing Empire

I love John Scalzi and have loved all of his books. This one disappointed in that it denigrated in superfluous use of "fuck" and sex with anything breathing. He's smarter than that . :/

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