What The Last Emperox by John Scalzi told me about creativity

The Last Emperox by John Scalzi
A book review

Creativity flows throughout the universe. To be creative we merely need to step into the flow and create. The flow is elusive, but it is there. Sometimes it is hard to find, other times it is clear. Creativity takes us from one place to another.

The Last Emperox is the final part of the Interdependency trilogy by John Scalzi. The story involves humanity connected by a series of flow streams that allow travel between distant star systems. Unfortunately, and this is the nub of the trilogy, these streams are breaking. Each planetary system relies on trade with others. In fact, only one system has a habitable planet. Therefore, breakdown means slow death for all but those who can get to The End – the name of the habitable system.

“People starving is not the point?” asked Tiegan. Deran pointed. “Close. People starving is not the point. People who are afraid of starving is.”

The Interdependency series
(affiliate links)
The Last Emperox (Book three)
The Collapsing Empire (Book one)
There Consuming Fire (Book two)

The solution for some is simple:

“So your plan is spaceships for some, and riot control for the rest,”

But for our main protagonists, they want to save as many as possible. This creates a battle between dynasties, science and business. And provides the story arc for the three books.

“It’s the end of civilization as we know it. And it’s going to be great for business.”

John Scalzi’s writing is, as always, quick-witted, engaging and full of surprises. The final instalment hurtles as fast as the ships through the flow streams. It has plenty of shocks along the way and reaches a satisfying conclusion. Like all good science fiction ‘world’ building it also provides space for spin offs, prequels and sequels. An enjoyable piece of space opera.

I found out that the second book in the series was written quickly. The author admitted this, but unless you are Douglas Adams it seems deadlines have to be met. I felt that the second book was a little rushed. If you’ve read it, I’d be interested to know if you felt the same? That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but it could have been polished a little bit more IMHO.

There is some social commentary throughout the series. Dealing with an impending crisis is the same whether it is on a universal or global scale. This gives plenty of scope for the author to explore the reactions of the rich, the greedy and the altruists… and I hasten to add that those are not exclusive terms for our characters.

But at the end of it, everyone assumed that something or someone would come along to save the civilization that they lived in and could not conceive of actually disappearing.

And so I come back to the beginning. Creativity. You can study being creative. There are umpteen courses on how to be creative. The Internet is full of videos and tutorials on creating this and that. I’ve even made some myself. I see a similarity between the flow streams and the creative streams that I believe exist. The universe of the flow streams reminded me of how I can catch a glimpse of an idea…

Which is when Marce’s conscious mind intruded into his dream. I’ve seen this before, it said. Where have I seen this before?

… yet to try and truly understand creativity is beyond me. I turn to metaphor and analogy. I find it in other stories, other universes and other characters. But…

One could anthropomorphize the Flow all one wanted, but the Flow would not agree or consent to it. It was literally alien to this universe.

Creativity is. I am creative. You are creative. Nature is creative. We live in a universe that creates. Creativity is flowing all around.

I believe in the muse. The muse exists. When we get together something happens.

They both came away from the meeting feeling like they had manipulated the other precisely, which meant it was a good meeting.

I’m not sure how it happens and, to be honest, I don’t really want to know. Creativity is a gift and while that gift keeps giving, I am happy.

The current world crisis, Coronavirus, that interrupted the previous world crisis, climate change/pollution/excess, has enabled us to think about how we live. How we act in a crisis is a choice each of us makes. With that in mind, here’s the last quote from the book. A book (series) that I enjoyed and recommend.

Proster spread his hands wide. “These are the times we live in, Archbishop.”
“We make the times we live in, Proster.”

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