The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi
My rating:4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the Interdependcy series by Scalzi, and it picks up pretty much right where The Collapsing Empire left off. To give a short recap of the story so far: The Inderdependency is a group of planets inhabited by humans who spread into the galaxy from Earth. They depend on the Flow, a sort of series of “streams” that allow ships to enter and travel from planet to planet in normal time periods. But the Flow is shutting down, or more precisely, changing. A few planets are already cut off from traffic (and needed resources). The current Emperox of the Interdepency, Grayland II, is trying, with the help of a physicist who is also her lover, to convince the noble houses that something has to be done, and soon.
The Consuming Fire is completely a second book in a series. It continues the story, it thickens the plot and the intrigue, it builds on the characters from the first book, and introduces some new players. One of the main strengths of this piece of the story is the worldbuilding which, while it does slow the story in some spots, gets all that out of the way so (hopefully) the third book can rock right along. Familiar characters are either developed a bit more (Grayland shows she’s not the fool some take her to be). There is a bit of a twist in the story that begs some interesting questions for the future of the worlds soon to be divided from one another. In all, it builds on the first book, and sets the stage for the third. Exactly what a second book is supposed to do.
That said, there are definitely times when the story drags a bit because of large doses of exposition and the above worldbuilding. It slows things down a bit, but if it saves interrupting what should be a fast-paced conclusion in the third book, I’ll forgive it. There are a lot of f-bombs in the story, especially from Kiva Lagos, but she is still one of the most interesting characters here, if only for not really knowing just yet how she will fit in with the whole picture.
The book is written in Scalzi’s usual style- light, dialogue-heavy, and fast paced. Even the expository sections are written with a humorous style that makes them less difficult to work through. The science is believable for the most part, which indicates that Scalzi has done some homework (not a new thing since most of his work is pretty solid there). It’s overall an easy read, and the series, I think, will prove a credible addition to the space opera genre.
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