Title: The Last Emperox (The Interdependency, #3)
Author: John Scalzi
Publication date: April 16, 2020
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Science fiction
The collapse of The Flow, the interstellar pathway between the planets of the Interdependency, has accelerated. Entire star systems—and billions of people—are becoming cut off from the rest of human civilization. This collapse was foretold through scientific prediction… and yet, even as the evidence is obvious and insurmountable, many still try to rationalize, delay and profit from, these final days of one of the greatest empires humanity has ever known.
Emperox Grayland II has finally wrested control of her empire from those who oppose her and who deny the reality of this collapse. But “control” is a slippery thing, and even as Grayland strives to save as many of her people from impoverished isolation, the forces opposing her rule will make a final, desperate push to topple her from her throne and power, by any means necessary. Grayland and her thinning list of allies must use every tool at their disposal to save themselves, and all of humanity. And yet it may not be enough.
Will Grayland become the savior of her civilization… or the last emperox to wear the crown?
Bravo to John Scalzi for this masterful conclusion to an entertaining and exciting sci-fi trilogy! Not every trilogy sticks the landing, but The Last Emperox absolutely does.
The story picks up right after the end of The Consuming Fire, as the Interdependency’s existence is threatened by the collapse of the Flow, the impossible-to-explain time/space stream that connects the various star systems of the empire. The Flow is what allows humankind to survive, since the empire was designed specifically to make each settlement and star system not self-sustaining, but dependent on all the others. As the Flow starts to disappear, the worlds of the Inderdependency will find themselves cut off and lacking vital resources, and unless a solution is found, the people there will be doomed to a slow, inevitable extinction.
As if that weren’t enough to deal with, Emperox Grayland II, the supreme leader of the Interdependency, has already survived a couple of assassination attempts and failed coups, and her future’s not looking too great either. Despite the threat to their very existence, the noble houses can’t seem to stop their endless backstabbing and manipulation, each attempting to grab as much power as possible for themselves, without worrying too much about the fate of the billions of commoners whose lives are at stake.
As always, John Scalzi’s writing is full of snark and snappy dialogue, as well as complex political machinations and intricate science fiction scenarios to drool over. Also, I just get such a kick out of his unique names for characters, including two of my favorites, Senia Fundapellonan and Nadashe Nohamapetan.
(To be clear, Nadashe Nohamapetan is a terrible person. I just love her name.)
My favorite character (although it’s hard to choose) would have to be Kiva Lagos, who is super smart, totally kick-ass, and never met a sentence that wouldn’t be better with a few f-bombs. I love this interchange between her and Senia (who’s speaking first here):
“It’s not a great idea to be too in love with your own cleverness.”
“What are you, my mother?”
“If I were your mother, I’d use the word ‘fuck’ more often.”
“It’s a perfectly good word.”
“Sure,” Senia said. “Maybe not as every other word that comes out of your mouth, though.”
“I don’t even hear myself saying it, half the fucking time.”
Senia patted Kiva. “I know that. You’d hear it if I used it as much as you did.”
“No I wouldn’t.”
“Fucking yes you fucking absolutely fucking would.”
“Now you’re just exaggerating.”
“Not by much.”
I won’t go into plot developments, because I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun. I will say, though, that the ending goes in a way I never would have imagined, and it totally threw me for a loop! It’s cool, though, and makes sense, and even though the story comes to a satisfying close, I’d love to get an update on these characters and this world down the road and find out how it all worked out for them in the long run.
The Interdependency is, plain and simple, a great, funny, exciting, intricate sci-fi space opera. I had a blast reading these books. Read all three!