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Remembrance of Earth's Past: The Three-Body Trilogy (The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death's End) Kindle Edition
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I came across a reference to Cixin Liu's book in an article speculating about what the difference in response to a "first contact" might be if the Chinese rather than a Western/European nation was the recipient of a message from an extraterrestrial society of advanced beings.
One of the most interesting aspects of "Three Body Problem" is its quite convincing, and much more pessimistic view about dealings with truly alien, highly intelligent and technologically superior beings. This is expressed in the concept of "The Dark Forest"--a universe in which the struggle for survival ("Nature red in tooth and claw") is the paradigm.
The trilogy is a sweeping story which takes the reader through possible stages of human political, social and technological development from present to the end of the universe as we know it! The key characters in the tale persist over time thanks to certain technologies which allow them to survive. The characters are well-developed and are both sympathetic and believable.
Three Body Trilogy is speculative fiction at its best--if not at its most optimistic. For "Star Trek"--or even "Star Wars" fans, it is quite a good reality check!
It might be interesting for U.S. readers to know that Cixin Liu is probably the most famous writer of Science Fiction in China. Moreover, the Chinese Space program actually consults with Cixin Liu, who is also a scientist!
Definitely a must-read and a real treat for "hard" sci-fi fans! Across the trilogy, I think Liu Cixin must have used just about every recent techno lead and out-there basic research hypothesis as a plot device: what could be the implications of this, that, and the next thing? How could this be used as a weapon? How would society adapt to that? How might we experience the next thing???
But of course, sci-fi as a genre is usually married to a theme, and of course Liu grapples with the clash of civilizations. But overlaying all the obligatory battles is the grand espionage thriller. Think John Le Carre meets Star Wars, complete with all the agonizing questions about how far we can go in compromising human values (e.g., "universal human rights" on earth) in the fight against a ruthless enemy. A decent grounding in game theory might be a pre-requisite to understanding most of the plot.
I particularly enjoyed scenes building on Edward Abbott's "Flatland" exploring how we might experience different dimensions. And a satisfyingly open-ended ending (Asimov would approve).
So why did I give it only 4 stars out of 5? Too long; too many tedious battle scenes; and a particularly laughable male fantasy (fortunately not at all misogynistic; more lame than objectionable).
What I liked least was the view of a universe dominated by Malthusian economics and Hobbesian politics. However, I do appreciate the need to articulate a strong warning against a (probably over-optimistic and naive) Star-Trek mindset. (And I must confess I am a life-long Trek-enthusiast).
When it comes to the science, I still think H.G. Wells had it right - the invaders are more likely to succumb to our germs than we are to their weapons (yes of course they could also be an invasive species but I think the statistics of historical examples on earth point in our favor; Kim Stanley Robinson's "Aurora" points out the risks to anyone seeking to colonize another planet).
I understand there's a movie in the works. Will definitely look forward to that.
Other reviews that found character development and scene construction to be lacking. Perhaps these are valid criticisms, so for some this trilogy may have its minor faults. But for any fan of cutting edge science, as well as science fiction, suspense, plot twists and turns, and yes, even philosophy, this trilogy is completely worth the investment that it takes to get through the first half of the first book. From there, the game becomes clear, even if the strategies are kept intentionally opaque.
This trilogy is a terrific match played by a grand master, and one where the mind truly matters.
The first book is absolutely great.
The second book acquires a larger scope and is further complicated by the translator.
I feel that the translator of the first book, which was again chosen for the third book, does a better job.
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