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The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth's Past) Hardcover – August 11, 2015
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About the Author
CIXIN LIU is a prolific and popular science fiction writer in the People's Republic of China. Liu is a winner of the Hugo Award and a multiple winner of the Galaxy Award (the Chinese Hugo) and the Xing Yun Award (the Chinese Nebula). He lives with his family in Yangquan, Shanxi.
JOEL MARTINSEN (translator) is research director for a media intelligence company. His translations have appeared in Words Without Borders, Chutzpah!, and Pathlight. He lives in Beijing.
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Comparing with the first volume, the new translator localized the writing in a more "English" way, making the reading for English speakers feel like reading an original Western literature instead of an Eastern-Western translation, which may not be too good for "preserving" the original writing, but... there isn't too many Chinese culture/history related content in this second book anyway.
One more thing to add, unlike vivid human beings appear in regular full-length fictions, most characters Liu sculpted in his works look like symbols instead, which I fancy is on purpose, being probably the only "obstacle" for this book in the way of becoming a true saluter to those real Classics back in the Golden Age of Science Fiction.
Definitely a powerful Hugo/Nebular contender and a likely winner next year.
For your own sakes, read it yourselves.
With all of that said, I feel strongly that The Dark Forest may be the best work of science fiction I have ever experienced. I read the English translation of Cixin Liu’s Chinese science fiction novel, The Three Body Problem. I thought that it was very good, but not excellent. I was sufficiently intrigued to proceed on to the second novel of the trilogy, The Dark Forest, and I am eternally grateful that I did. I am just floored by how good this novel is, on so many levels.
I have read so many science fiction novels that are little more than spaceships and aliens, with poor underlying stories or character development. The Dark Forest is an outstanding piece of literature, above and beyond its label as a work of science fiction. It has very thoughtful themes, touching on philosophy, anthropology, sociology and psychology. The advanced technology and elements of hard science fiction are outstanding, second to none. The underlying story is absolutely captivating, as are the characters.
At the conclusion of the Three Body Problem, we are left with an alien race, the Trisolarans, who have embarked on a four hundred year long trip across the galaxy, ostensibly to conquer and inhabit the Earth. Through use of their advanced technology, they have arrested the technological development of the human race and are able to eavesdrop on every aspect of life on Earth. Faced with this scenario, how does the human race respond? As the years pass and different generations are tasked with coming up with strategies to face the threat, the author continues, time and again, to impress with his vision and the elements of human psychology and philosophy that he employs.
Most impressive to me is the author’s ability to deal with these philosophical and technological themes in such a way that the reader can easily follow and appreciate. To me, he walks the perfect line between being intellectually challenging, yet approachable (unlike some of Frank Herbert’s work, which was more than I could handle).
So, if you have read The Three Body Problem and are trying to decide whether to proceed on to this second installment, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to do so. If you have not read the Three Body Problem, I urge you to do so, with the knowledge that the follow up book will be worth the effort. The Dark Forest wraps up very nicely and could easily be the end of the story; however this is a trilogy, so I will gladly continue to the final chapter, hoping not to be disappointed. The Dark Forest is a terribly difficult act to follow.
This book deserves a five-star rating thoroughly. Unlike the Three-Body Problem that bears the burden of slowly laying the contextual foundation for the plot of the entire book series, the pace of The Dark Forest moves rather quickly from the beginning. There is no three-body computer game anymore. But a different game is played between four Wallfacers and their respective Wallbreakers. Each Wallfacer tried and failed in searching for a way to counter the looming invasion. Yet it does not seem to matter because, before the first alien fleet arrives, human technology has accelerated and risen to a level that rivals the alien race. Yes, inter-planetary peace is afoot.
Part III of The Dark Forest is the climax and most dramatic stage of the entire trilogy series. Both Luo Ji and Zhang Beihai – two leading characters of the book – are awaken from century-long hibernation to witness the human race’s first physical contact with the aliens. I am not going to the details because it will spoil the fun of your reading. Suffice it to say there are several brilliant twists of the plot that forces the question: what is humanity after all? In my mind, the best scifi novels are not so much about the light-speed space dashing or spectacular galactic wars, but how we define humanity when facing an alien encounter or invasion. The Dark Forest just did that, in a chilling way. Almost like a social scifi, the socio-psychological elements give the book a provocative depth and resonance
Zhang Beihai comes out almost as a Vulcan from StarTrek. Not only did he go undercover for many centuries, but also he came up with a shockingly unhuman solution to save the human race in the most dire moment. Morality is of no concern. Just another rational but dark choice in the face of desperation, which is quite consistent with the pervading sense of pessimism about humans through the first two books.
This book presents an interesting theory about how different civilizations view each other in the vast universe, hence the reason for the book title “The Dark Forest”. It’s similar to the famous prisoner’s dilemma where betrayal or hostility seems to generate the biggest rewards. The overall concept reminds me of the Inhibitors in “Revelation Space” by Alastair Reynolds. Again, the theory does not produce any good prospect for cosmic harmony. If u think the Three-Body Problem is a bit depressing, the Dark Forest gets bleaker. And of course, Liu is not done yet because the final installment of the trilogy is called “The Dead End”.
The Three-Body Problem was the finalist for both Hugo and Nebula awards this year. I will not surprised if the Dark Forest actually win it. That’s how GOOD it is.