Reviews: Liu, Cixin

At the narrow passage, there is no brother and no friend

The Dark Forest — Cixin Liu
Remembrance of Earth's Past, book 2

2015’s The Dark Forest, originally published in 20081 as 黑暗森林, is the second volume of Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. It follows Liu’s 2006 (for the Chinese edition)/2014 (English edition) novel The Three-Body Problem.


Three-Body Problem won the 2014 Hugo, despite notable handicaps. Not only had a translated book never before won the Hugo, two bloc-voting schemes conspired (knowingly or not) to keep it off the ballot. Only the fact that Marko Kloos withdrew (for reasons explained here) allowed Three-Body Problem onto the Hugo best novel ballot.


That is a nice story of triumph over great odds, which is rather suitable considering that Three-Body Problem is a story of humanity facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge: resisting extermination at the manipulating appendages of the technologically superior Trisolarians. It’s a bit of shame, therefore, that I was somewhat ambivalent about Three-Body Problem2. Many of the same issues coloured my reading of the sequel.

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“Eliminate human tyranny! The world belongs to Trisolaris!”

The Three-Body Problem — Cixin Liu
Remembrance of Earth’s Past, book 1

First published in China almost a decade ago under the title 三体, Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem has finally been brought to audiences in l’anglosphere (at least the l’Amérique du Nord part). This is due to the efforts of translator Ken Liu, publisher Tor Books, and the China Educational Publications Import & Export Corporation. In this novel, Liu grapples with a classic SFnal question — how might contact between two civilizations of vastly different technological ability go? — and the answer is, rather unsurprisingly for anyone familiar with terrestrial history, very poorly for the less advanced civilization.

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