Author: Cixin Liu // First published: 2008 // Genre: Science Fiction
This edition: 400 pages, published in November 2014 by Tor Books // Get it @TheBookDepository
Read in April 2015
Hugo Award nominee for Best Novel (2015), Nebula Award nominee for Best Novel (2015), Prometheus Award nominee for Best Novel (2015).
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
Amateurs of hard sci-fi, this is for you. this book relies heavily on science. Which means I did not understand one thing.
No, that’s not entirely true, and that is the first point I would like to make. As I might have said in a previous review (or not, who knows anymore?), I am by no means a scientific person. I never understood any of it, and in highschool I was in a literary branch (so to speak) and science was not a part of it. Which I now regret a little bit because I very much science fiction but I usually don’t understand most of it. I’m digressing.
So okay, the book is very scientific, but when you read it, it really doesn’t prevent you from following the story. It is written in such a way that the author doesn’t make you feel dumb for not understanding the specifics of the science he uses in the book (which can sometimes happen).
There a couple moments when it gets a little bit too specific, like when there are two pages that explain that the sun is a sphere within a larger sphere (2 pages on that was maybe a bit excessive), and at the very end, when we hear the point of view of the Trisolarans and they start a speech about bending dimensions or something… It lost me completely. I understood (I think, kinda) what the end goal was, but the explanation on how to get there was just too much for me, and for a lot of people as well if I believe the few reviews I read/watched.
I went in without knowing much about the book, and I was very surprised to find a virtual reality game. Nothing to do with Ready Player One (although that was my first thought) but the chapters taking place in the game are just incredible and really interesting. I also really enjoyed the chapters that dealt with the Red Coast Base (I hope I’m getting the name right, I don’t have the book to check).
I was a little bit confused at first because of the “jumps” from present to past and back, and the Chinese names confused me a little as well, but for once, I got the hang of it pretty quickly (compared to The Goblin Emperor where I had no clue who was who).
Big shout-out to Ken Liu who translated the trilogy. Given the highly scientific and specific nature of the text, I thought he did a brilliant job. Obviously I don’t read Chinese, so I wouldn’t be able to compare his translation to the original text, but everything read smooth to me and I liked it very much. He even included some footnotes about the Chinese history to give some context to what was presented, which were very helpful and the decision to include them was a good one.
Overall, this is a 4/5 for me. It took me about 3 —small— chapters to get into it, but then I was hooked. I’m very much looking forward to the next books in the trilogy.