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THE LAST EMPEROX by John Scalzi Kirkus Star


by John Scalzi

Pub Date: April 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-7653-8916-9
Publisher: Tor

The desperate logistics of planning for the apocalypse reach their climax in the conclusion to a space opera trilogy that began with The Collapsing Empire (2017) and The Consuming Fire (2018).

Time is running out for Cardenia Wu-Patrick, aka Grayland II, emperox of the planet-spanning Interdependency. As she struggles to come up with a plan to save the billions who will suffer and starve in the wake of the collapse of the Flow, the extradimensional network connecting the planets of her far-flung empire, her nemesis, Lady Nadashe Nohamapetan, continues to scheme against her. With the support of many of the noble houses—who plan to abandon their subjects while preserving themselves and their wealth in a flight to End, the only self-sufficient planet in the Interdependency—Nadashe now seeks the throne for herself. Meanwhile, Cardenia’s lover, the Flow physicist Lord Marce Claremont, attempts to devise a scientific solution to the Flow collapse, unaware that Cardenia is hiding vital data from him. And the clever but hot-tempered Lady Kiva Lagos attempts to spy on Nadashe in hopes of defusing the coup, but she may have gotten herself in too deep this time. Scalzi treads a delicate line here: He set out to chart an apocalypse, and a deus ex machina would be cheating. The book also serves as an acknowledgment that intelligence and good intentions are not an impregnable armor against venality and the pitiless laws of physics. (In addition to slowing down Scalzi's writing—something he acknowledges in an afterword—the current sociopolitical situation in the U.S. has clearly flavored the story.) Given those parameters, Scalzi plays fair while still offering his readers some hope. And even when depicting the direst situations, Scalzi’s work retains its snarky cheer.

Punchy, plausible, and bittersweet; studded with zingers until the very last line.