The Dark Forest

I’ve been reading this Chinese science fiction trilogy by Cixin Liu, as one does, and I’ve just finished the second book.

Let me tell you, this author really knows how compose 500 pages of increasing nihilistic hopelessness and then, bam! Hope for the world is restored! But not in a forced, contrived way.

I could go on with spoiler alerts, and specific plot twists, but I won’t. Instead I’m going to talk about the very weird experience of reading contemporary Chinese science fiction.

Dear readers, this is going to blow some minds, but get this: It’s like reading something from a whole different culture.

Not only does Cixin Liu thread the needle of writing a solid, tight, multi-generational epic of an interplanetary cold war populated by complex characters with deep and surprising motivations, the author casts a narrow light on how careful and deliberate one must be to create such a work in a political environment like the People’s Republic of China.

If I were a gradute student in the humanities, I could base my thesis on this trilogy. I would dive deep, go into great and eloquent length about the ideals, and the flaws in those ideals, that characters like Zheng Beihai, Shi Qiang, and Luo Ji exemplify. But I’m not, and this is just a blog post.

In the end, I liked this book. It’s exciting, intruiging, and it took me way outside my normal frame of cultural reference.

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