The second part of the trilogy opened with The Three-Body Problem is even more impressive in its sheer scale. Cixin Liu slowly but firmly divorces himself from the confines of current times and takes us deftly into the future. That is anything but bright.
As with the previous one I got this book from my friend.
We come back when it is certain the Tirsolarian fleet is on its way and will reach Earth in just over 400 years. On top of that, the sophons sent by Trisolarians to Earth not only spy on us but also sabotage any fundamental research. So now we know with certainty we’ll be invaded. The question now becomes who manages to keep faith in victory and how will the defeatists react. Ye Wenije comes back at the beginning of the book to speak to Luo Ji about creating cosmic sociology.
The military across the globe continues its preparations for the arrival of the hostile army. Even though technologically we simply cannot possibly beat them. The idea of leaving Earth in search of a safe harbor is abandoned because fundamentally people would never be able to agree on who deserves a chance of survival. Given that sophons can spy on every physical action and report it back, the UN decides, in an act of desperation, to nominate four Wallstarers. Those are supposed to be the people who will come up with a plan to beat the Trisolarians, but it has to stay in their heads. Their actions must be confusing enough to hide their plan. Luo is nominated as one of the Wallstarers.
He is not given much choice on the matter and throughout his life, he was a self-centered narcissist. So why change concludes Luo. He uses his vast access to resources to built his dream life, cut off from the world with the woman he adores and shortly a child. All that is of course eventually taken from him, as the situation becomes even more desperate. Finally, Luo is hibernated and woken up years later.
The situation somewhat changed. People live mostly underground now, with only the ones that were hibernated opting to live on the surface, which is almost barren. Luo loses his special status, as the Wallfacer program is put on ice given the advances humanity managed to achieve. And they are significant, building a space lift, a significant fleet of spaceships, and having the ability to monitor the progress of the Trisolarian fleet.
All is nice and lovely until the first Trisolarian probe reaches our solar system…
And again not to spoil the fun I’ll leave it here. It is an even more magnificent book in its scale. From any perspective whether we’re talking about the time range, or spatial range Cixing Liu holds nothing back. But again apart from the plot, the focus is on very philosophical questions. In the face of certain defeat should we stay and try to fight, or should we run? What exactly is our place in the universe? If there are other civilizations in space how do they interact, what drives those interactions?
In Cixin Liu perspective we become mere specks of dust, ants. Humanity is not special, there is bigger and better out there. The question is how do we survive, what drives any civilization? Once again it is not a very uplifting or optimistic book, but it does make you think.
And again Liu writes with such amazing imagery. I cannot wait for those books to be turned into movies, and I really hope they will live to the expectations. Now on to the third part.
Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska
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