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This is the second novel in "Remembrance of Earth’s Past", the near-future trilogy written by China's multiple-award-winning science fiction author, Cixin Liu.

In The Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion — four centuries in the future. The aliens' human collaborators have been defeated but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth's defense plans are exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret.

This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

512 pages, Hardcover

First published May 1, 2008

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About the author

Liu Cixin

197 books11k followers
Science Fiction fan and writer.

Liu Cixin also appears as Cixin Liu

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Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews1,984 followers
December 23, 2015
Ana’s Take:

I can’t think of a book that has squandered more of my goodwill than The Dark Forest in recent memory. Actually no, scrap that. I can’t think of a book that has CRUSHED me more than The Dark Forest did. Beware, spoilers and CAPS LOCK OF FURY AHEAD.

I loved The Three-Body Problem. I loved it so much, I handed it over to Thea, telling her: READ THIS NOW. We BOTH loved it so much, we gave it high ratings and the book eventually made our top 10 lists of 2014. I loved it so much, when it won a Hugo Award this year, I screamed. Needless to say, we were both super excited about reading The Dark Forest. Until it punched it me in the face. Multiple times.

Just like its predecessor, parts of The Dark Forest are bloody fantastic. In the previous book, humanity found out that 1) we are not alone in the universe and 2) the aliens? They are coming. More than that, they are coming for us. The doomed Tri-solarians have set forth on their long journey to Earth and humans have 400 years to get ready. How to do that? How to prepare for the inevitable moment when we face those who come to destroy us?

First, survival is the primary need of civilization. Second, civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.

Here is the (awesome) catch: the Tri-solarians have sent ahead particles called sophons that have the dual mission to spy on humans and to curtail technological and scientific advance – the very thing that could potentially save us all. What makes this absolutely thrilling is that although humans are aware that the sophons are here, we don’t know at which point this block will start to work so the only thing we can do is to carry on, trying to advance as much as possible without knowing where or when or how the block will be enforced.

Also thrilling – and fascinating – is the great socio-political, philosophical insights into predicting how humans would react to all of this. There are many different answers to that: some wish to welcome our new overlords. Others wish for the destruction of the human race. Others want to invest in plans to escape Earth completely. Others want to stay and fight. All of those threads are examined and elaborated on and the result is thought-provoking.

There is a tapestry of stories here but the one storyline that drives the plot forward more than any other is perhaps the one concerning the Wallfacer Project: four people are specially chosen and given ample power, unlimited funds and resources to come up with a plan to defend the planet. They must do that on their own – never letting anybody know of their plans so that the sophons cannot decipher it. Because of that, no one is allowed to question any of their orders, or deny any of their requests – as ludicrous as they might be. As a counterpoint, the Tri-solarians (or rather, their friends on Earth) come up with the Wallbreakers – four chosen individuals who will try to break their allocated Wallfacer.

One of those Wallfacers is Luo Ji, a Chinese astronomer and sociologist and the closest thing that The Dark Forest has to a protagonist. Luo Ji has no idea why he was chosen as a Wallfacer, has no real plan, basically winging it throughout the novel – and yet for some mysterious reason, the Tri-solarians are determined to kill him at all costs.

Like I said, the premise of the book is exhilarating – and it’s incredibly well developed too, in spite of the clumsy dialogue and occasional info-dump.

Unfortunately, the book has one significant problem that I simply can’t overlook.

Its treatment of women throughout is appalling. Enraging. It is so bad, it almost transcends “bad” into comical.

There are no main female characters of any significance apart from perhaps, two or three: they are the Secretary General of the UN (described as a “refined Asian lady who didn’t project the sense of power needed”); a prominent scientist and Wallbreaker; and a general. In a cast of literal dozens, this is PITIFUL. Especially because their spotlight is short-lived.

In fact, the world in this novel seems to be mostly populated by men, it’s a veritable sausage-fest. Most characters in the spotlight are men. All the Wallfacers are men. Throughout the novel, other women appear but they go unnamed, have no stories. It’s as ridiculous as having one particular storyline that follows a group of male friends and all of whom have names and stories. One of those guys has a lover and she appears in the background of their interactions all the time, has dinner with them, is there in a lot of scenes but is referred throughout as “the Sichuan woman”.

Similarly, basically the first time we meet the book’s main character, he is in bed with a woman whose name he can’t remember:

Luo Ji lay limp on the bed, watching the woman put on clothes after a shower through eyes still hazy from sleep. The sun, already high in the sky, shone through the curtains and turned her into a graceful projected silhouette, like a scene from a black-and-white movie he had forgotten the name of. But what he needed to remember now was her name. What was she called?

Soon after that, they are walking outside, and she gets KILLED. He THEN remembers her name:

He didn’t hear the heavy thud of the other impact, but then he saw the woman’s body soar over the top of the car and fall behind it on the road like a boneless rag doll. As it tumbled, the trail of blood it left behind on the ground seemed like it ought to mean something. As he stared at the bloody symbol, Luo Ji finally remembered her name.

Do you think the narrative bothers to finally NAME her? No. Of course not. Why would it? Women are unimportant.

Luo Ji is a man-child who says he has never been able to truly connect with a woman because when he was at university he made up a female character for an unwritten novel and fell in love with this imaginary person because she was the perfect woman. This is a part of the story that goes and on and on on how he created this imaginary woman. When he becomes a Wallfacer and is given unlimited resources to save the planet, he sets out to find this perfect woman, by asking his bodyguard to find her:

“She… how should I put it? She came into this world like a lily growing out of a rubbish heap, so… so pure and delicate, and nothing around her can contaminate her. But it can all harm her. Yes, everything around her can hurt her! Your first reaction when you see her is to protect her. No, to care for her, to let her know that you are willing to pay any price to shield her from the harm of a crude and savage reality. She… she’s so… ah, I’ve got a clumsy tongue. I can’t say anything clearly.”

He described how she had come alive for the first time in the library, how she appeared in his classroom during lecture, how the two of them had met in front of the imaginary fireplace in his dormitory, the beauty of the firelight shining onto her face through the bottle of wine like the eyes of twilight. He recalled with pleasure their road trip, describing every last detail: the fields after the snow, the town and village under the blue sky, the mountains like old villagers basking in the sun, and the evening and bonfire at the foot of the mountain…. After he finished, Shi Qiang stubbed out his cigar.

“Well, that’s about enough. I’ll guess a few things about the girl, and you see if I’m right.”


“Education: She’s got at least a bachelor’s, but less than a doctorate.”

Luo Ji nodded. “Yes, yes. She’s knowledgeable, but not to the point where it calcifies her. It only makes her more sensitive to life and to the world.”

In a gross, completely unbelievable turn of events, they find this woman and Luo Ji marries her. And then the story proceeds to objectify and infantilise the character:

Looking at her innocently holding the wineglass stirred the most delicate parts of his mind. She drank when invited. She trusted the world and had no wariness about it at all. Yes, everything in the world was lying in wait to hurt her, except here. She needed to be cared for here.

When she saw its true appearance for the first time, what Luo Ji heard was not the squeals and fussing and exclamations that young women like her usually made. No, in the face of such a magnificent vista, she fell into an awed and breathless state and was unable to speak even one word of praise. He could tell that she was far more sensitive to natural beauty than other women.

He was completely overcome by her childlike nature.

Her English was strained, but her voice retained a childlike softness and she still had that cool spring of a smile, which stroked his weary soul like an angel’s hands.

You might have been wondering… this is a book about alien invasion and high stakes, wtf is all this doing here. Well, dear reader: the zenith of this storyline is that Luo Ji is not doing his work properly and so THEY TAKE AWAY HIS WIFE AND FREEZE HER UNTIL SUCH A TIME WHEN HE DOES HIS WORK AND SHE CAN BE RETURNED TO HIM.

Yes, you heard that right. This book LITERALLY fridges the woman to LITERALLY motivate the main character.

Now, in fairness, there is an argument to be made that the story is taking Luo Ji’s misogynist views of women and using it against him. Especially when we find out that Zhuang Yan chose to sacrifice herself for humankind. I will counter-argue that we never get to hear from Zhuang Yan – her perspective and her choice are invisible to us, info-dumped from afar. This is particularly egregious in a book with multiple viewpoints and a lot of head-hoping.

Ultimately, I deeply resent the fact THAT I HAD TO SPEND SO MUCH FUCKING TIME INSIDE THIS ASSHOLE’S HEAD. And more than being an actual, developed plot point, I’d say that there is no narrative pay-off for this misogyny. It’s there, normalised as a character trait and it goes nowhere. There is no point to it and it goes unchallenged. Was this a problem that existed in The Three-Body Problem and I glossed over it because one of the main characters in that book was a woman? It’s possible. I also wonder, perhaps uncharitably and unfairly, how much the change in translator from book 1 to book 2 has made an impact in the way the English narrative conveys all of this.

At the end of the day, even though the main narrative thrust of the novel was incredible, I care far too much about about the book’s treatment of women to come close to liking The Dark Forest. In fact, I wish the Tri-solarians to come and obliterate this book from orbit.

Thea’s Take:

Ok. This is a tough one to write.

It’s tough because I completely, wholeheartedly understand and agree with Ana. The treatment of female characters in this particular novel is appalling. It’s pointless misogyny, serving no actual purpose in the development of the overall story, it’s accepted and adopted by multiple characters (all men, of course, because there are no main female characters in this novel), and it actually is the literary equivalent of being punched in the face. Multiple times.

For the entire first act of this book, we are subjected to the vile thoughts (and I say vile, because of the casual banality of this character’s attitude towards women) in Luo Ji’s head. These thoughts go unchallenged by the text; moreover, these sentiments are echoed by others in the novel (in particular, Da Shi, who plays a big part in Three Body Problem). What’s worse is, all of this narrative shittiness is utterly throwaway–in the first 200 pages of the book, nothing of real import or interest happens!

It’s very, very hard to recommend a book–or continue reading a book–where nearly a third of the text is superfluous douchecanoery without forward momentum in terms of overall storyline.



Once you get past the first part of the book and enter part 2, with the Wallfacer Project taking off in earnest, the Wallbreakers, and the looming reality of Trisolaran invasion and Earth’s preparations for the Doomsday Battle…once you get there, The Dark Forest delivers. BIG TIME. There are twists and shocking surprises and metaphors–and they are brilliant, if darkly shrouded in pessimism in the innate nature of intelligent life in the universe.

And that’s where the conflicted part of my brain kicks in, because for as much as I hated the first 200 pages or so, I absolutely loved the brilliant, unexpected, and thoroughly awesome 300 pages that followed. The Dark Forest examines the 400 years that humanity has to prepare for the Trisolaran invasion of Earth, and face a huge disadvantage. To the advanced Trisolarian civilization, humanity are mere bugs–what’s worse, Trisolaris has sent sophons to Earth that are capable of preventing huge leaps in technological progress, listen/read/perceive of all human conversations and communication. What this means, effectively, is humanity can form no plans to fight the invasion without the sophons finding out and transmitting that information back to Trisolaris. In response to this formidable and seemingly unbeatable enemy edge, the human Planetary Defense Council creates the Wallfacer Project, in which four men–Frederick Tyler, Rey Diaz, Bill Hines, and Luo Ji–are selected to formulate plans that will save humanity. The kicker? These men can never reveal their strategies. They can never speak of or write their plans. They are granted unlimited power and privilege, given access to any resources they require to execute their defense and defeat of Trisolaris–and the sophons, for all their ability to eavesdrop and process information, cannot read minds. Nor can they understand the intricacies of human thought or deception.

The plans that each of these men create–and the opposition they face from their respective “Wallbreakers”, human Trisolaran-sympathizers given the task of discerning the plans of the Wallfacers–are varied, completely unexpected, and utterly exhilarating to read. The one wildcard in the project is Luo Ji–who doesn’t want to be a Wallfacer, who squanders resources and time initially, but who is the key to humanity’s survival and victory. He’s also a pathetic human being and character–but that’s kind of besides (or maybe it is) the point.

I don’t want to spoil how things unfold (ha) in The Dark Forest, or the revelations that the Wallfacers and Luo Ji in particular make. Suffice it to say, there’s a haunting elegance to the metaphor of the eponymous “Dark Forest” and that Cixin’s ultimate design by novel’s end are almost wholly breathtaking.


For as much as I appreciate the metaphor of the title, the unexpected message of love and hope, and the unexpected and bizarre way things shake out in this novel, it is hard to recommend The Dark Forest. It’s hard to tell someone that they might be punched in the face for about 200 pages, but stick with it because the payoff is good. I completely understand and respect Ana’s opinion and position when it comes to this second novel.

For me… I want to know what happens next. No, I need to know what happens next. I abhor the misogyny of the book’s first half–but I will be back to read Death’s End in 2016.


Ana: 1 – NOPE

Thea: A 2 for the awful first 1/3, an 8 for the brilliant subsequent 2/3. So let’s call it a 6.
Profile Image for Yun.
513 reviews19.8k followers
January 20, 2023
Well, I'm going to need jaw reattachment surgery after reading this. Just absolutely insane!

The Dark Forest picks up not long after the end of book 1, and I admit, I was a bit confused at first. Because you see, it starts off really slow, so slow I was left wondering how it's possible this same author could've written the fast-paced and information-dense story that was its predecessor.

For most of Part I, we just meander along, seemingly without any point or much plot advancement at all. We come across random asides and the weirdest love story I have ever read. At one point I even thought to myself, Liu Cixin has lost his mojo. He blew his entire bag of tricks on book 1 and now he has nothing left for book 2. Ha, I have never been so glad to be wrong.

Because the moment I turned the pages to Part II, then bam, Liu Cixin is back! From then on, the story intensifies relentlessly into a crescendo of revelations that is sure to stun and satisfy any science fiction lover. Liu has a really interesting style of writing, in which he invites the reader to take a journey with him. He'll lay down breadcrumbs early, then come back later to coalesce them into fully-formed thoughts and ideas. As a reader, it makes for an extremely satisfying experience.

And the last 100 pages was the best 100 pages of anything I have ever read. I still have goosebumps just thinking about it. Liu Cixin, sir, well played!

But if the rest of the book was so amazing, what was going on with Part I? Well, I was talking to my husband about it, and he mentioned that it could be a common trope in Chinese literature. I think the Western equivalent is "zero to hero" but the Chinese version puts more emphasis on the zero part. The character is shown to be lazy and dithering for quite a while, until something finally comes along to force him to live up to his potential.

I do have to touch upon the book's treatment of female characters. They come across as distinctly there to bolster the male characters' pride and reflect their glory. However, keep in mind that this is also the case with the younger characters in the book being there to bolster the older characters. It's because Chinese culture has always prized being male over female and being older over younger. It doesn't make it right (and in fact, I have rebelled against this almost my entire life), but I try not to be too harsh against an author who is accurately portraying the culture.

Regarding the translation, this book is translated by a different writer than book 1, and I personally preferred book 1's. I found this book's translation to be awkward at times, sometimes translating too literally and obscuring the meaning, while other times being too Western with the translation, so losing the cadence and style of Chinese that made book 1 such an effortless joy to read.

Even with the flaws, I've been loving this series so much and I think a big part is due to how fully it embodies the spirit of science fiction. Science fiction, more than any other genre, explores the social and technological aspects of humanity and ponders their consequences. It is a literature of ideas, if you will. But where Liu Cixin excels is not just in using these ideas, but also in fleshing them out to a degree never before seen and building them up into a grand epic tale. It truly is a feat to experience.

See also, my thoughts on:
#1. The Three-Body Problem
#3. Death's End

The Cretaceous Past

Profile Image for Grey.
11 reviews39 followers
August 13, 2015
About 80% through this book (after the Battle of Darkness), I needed a nap desperately. In the nap, I dreamed extremely troubling dreams, filled with the feeling of despair and the knowledge that humanity would die. Just felt like explaining the mood this book left me in for the most part: an overwhelming tension that every single human will perish, first in spirit, then in body. Thanks for that, Mr. Liu!

At that point, I thought I would end up not liking this book. I mean, the darkness of this book might haunt me for a while. This isn't pointlessly grimdark cynicism. I generally consider myself an "up" person. I love stories that are all about people defying the laws of the universe through the power of love. For a day, this book made me doubt that.

Definitely a high concept work. I'm not going to walk away loving Luo Ji or Zhang Beihai or Da Shi especially. But the feelings of overwhelming despair seeing inevitable defeat, the weird thrilling methods of watching the Wallfacers work, the pall that the Battle of Darkness cast over everything... The ideas and feelings here are universal.

You can tell from the writing that it is a translation. In the cadence and rhythm of the narrative and dialogue, this is not how native English speakers think and talk. But knowing that, perhaps I gave it some slack unconsciously? I didn't notice any particular issues, anyway. It's coherent and I didn't feel lost along the way.

There is one plothole I noticed, and either I missed something or maybe it was just forgotten. (This is the matter of the five missing mental seal devices and what came of the people who were sealed with the belief that humanity could never win.) I hesitate to put this down as a criticism because I haven't read the third book, and also allowing for the possibility that I simply missed its resolution.

As I said before, the characters are not strongly drawn, not particularly memorable - they fill a function. The characters stand in for the ideas that are being presented along the way. I didn't find it a problem, as the concepts are strong enough that I'll be mulling them over for a long while anyway. For other readers, this may count as a failing.

The emotional arc of the lead Luo Ji is essentially that of the book's. First Luo Ji is a misanthrope, selfishly living life cheerfully because one day we will die, uncaring of humanity's imminent destruction. Then he has a wife and a daughter, and through his love for them (or because of them, perhaps), then cares for the fate of the Earth.

This book made me believe the darkness was real, and that there might not be hope after all. So the moment in the last, god, 5 or 10 pages, when the tone changed. I never thought they were going to go there. The dark forest is presented as something altogether larger, more terrifying and powerful than humanity. Than humanity could ever be.

So at the end... Ah, I'll quote it. Super extra spoilers, this is literally from the last page:

I only wish to discuss with you one possibility: Perhaps seeds of love are present in other places in the universe. We ought to encourage them to sprout and grow.

"That's a goal worth taking risks for."

Yes, we can take risks.

"I have a dream that one day brilliant sunlight will illuminate the dark forest."

The sun was setting. Now only its tip was exposed beyond the distant mountains, as if the mountaintop was inset with a dazzling gemstone. Like the grass, the child running in the distance was bathed in the golden sunset.

The sun will set soon. Isn't your child afraid?

"Of course she's not afraid. She knows that the sun will rise again tomorrow."

Do you ever just cry? Ah, me. In this single exchange at the end, my hope was restored, my mood lifted, and suddenly I began to believe perhaps despair is not more powerful than love. Even such a science fiction book focused so much on showing humanity succumbing to darkness in the end wants to hope in love.

Extremely happy to see that the English version of Death's End will be arriving in a mere five months!
Profile Image for Petrik.
674 reviews42.8k followers
March 8, 2018
A superlative sequel that made its predecessor pale in comparison, The Dark Forest is an excellent middle book that made me finally recognize all the praises that Cixin Liu received.

The first thing you have to know before starting this book is that this is a completely different book from its predecessor, The Three-Body Problem. Although the plot built upon what happened in TTBP and a few characters made an appearance here, other than Da Shi and Ding Yi, the other characters were only mentioned or appeared briefly as cameo appearances. Looking at most reader’s opinion on the trilogy, the majority of readers who loved TTBP disliked this book because of how different it was, and vice versa. As someone who’s disappointed with TTBP—although I still think it’s a good novel—I have to agree with this statement because The Dark Forest is in my opinion, a better book, by far.

Where the first book revolved around the Trisolaris (name of the alien) existence and background, the plot mostly centered on the preparation for the alien invasion that’s due in 400 years. The Trisolaris is able to spy literally every action and conversation on Earth, the only thing they can’t spy on is human’s thoughts. With that in mind, humanity has decided to launch a counterattack by creating a Wallfacer project, which will gather four chosen individuals with a high intellect to make a strategy for the upcoming Doomsday battle with the Trisolaris. The scope of the story is also much bigger than TTBP; with a lot of deception, stealth, planning, and less physics/scientific calculation talks, combined with space voyage and interesting sci-fi concepts, all of these made The Dark Forest superior in all ways possible in comparison to its predecessor.

The Dark Forest lived up to its name not only for the concept—which is the Fermi’s paradox—but also for its theme on darkness, escapism, and despair. This book is not a happy or a comfort read; I know some people will hate this book for how realistic, pessimistic, and depressing the philosophical discussions can be. However, it’s not all darkness; there’s always a flicker of hope and all these philosophical discussions are something that I thoroughly enjoyed.

“Time is the one thing that can’t be stopped. Like a sharp blade, it silently cuts through hard and soft, constantly advancing. Nothing is capable of jolting it even the slightest bit, but it changes everything.”

The major problem I had with TTBP was its weak characterizations, this problem has completely vanished here. Luo Ji, the main character in this book, is a very intriguing character with great characterizations; and his friendship with Da Shi is a true source of light within this bleak setting, for both the reader and the plot. Also, as far as translations by Joel Martinsen goes, I really had no problem at all with it. It obviously felt different from what Ken Liu did but I will never judge prose based on translation unless I've read and understood the original language in which the novel was presented with. As long that I understand what the story is trying to tell and the writing flows well, I’ll say that the translator did a great job.

If you’re looking for Sci-Fi novels that featured tons of action scenes, you probably should look for other series to read. Within two books so far, there’s only a grand total of one heavy action sequence—which is here in this book—and it goes on for only 20 pages. However, I can tell you this, it's one of the finest action scenes I've ever read; it’s just very well-written as far as action scenes are concerned. The buildup towards it was well done, the execution itself was incredible and vivid; it made my jaw drop and made me use the highly popular reader’s quote “what the fuck did I just read?”

“If I destroy you, what business is it of yours?”

I honestly have no idea how Cixin Liu will top this one with the last book, Death’s End, especially when the conclusion of this book already felt like the satisfying ending to the series. However, if Death’s End turns out to be better than this already excellent sequel, Remembrance of Earth’s Past will no doubt be included in my lonely list of favorite series of all time.

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
793 reviews3,608 followers
March 20, 2022
Some of the most amazing Sci-fi I´ve read, because it perfectly balances the character and (not as hard as in the first part) hard science proportion with exceptional epic language, unique ideas, and innuendos en masse.

An explosion of creativity and style, even when compared to the first part
This is one of the most extreme cases of a series getting better and more accessible and just look at the third one, amazing. While the first part was a great read for nerds and historyholics focused on China, the series starts truly lifting off with not as complicated and more easygoing plot and settings while everything stays smooth and stylish.

The dark forest
This grim concept and especially the 2 rules that force all intelligent species to be evil to survive, cosmosociology, technological explosion, etc. come close to psychohistory and some of the series seems to be an homage to the incredible Asimov. It´s kind of ironic that Cixin is compared with Clarke, although he subjectively seems to be much closer to Asimov with a grain of Lem. Clarke was much more meta, less character focused, and über sophisticated, while Asimovs´ style is much closer to what Cixin, the living legend, produces.

Special ideas
One character is haunted by , which can be pretty annoying in a fully automated world and is kind of a tech variant of an ethnic bioweapon. The seemingly harmless nobody sees coming in one of the best sci-fi battles I´ve ever read. Drawing a big and long time picture of humankind that seems to get even bigger in the third part I´m reading at the moment. This plethora of many more new, perfectly executed ideas with an incredible sense for style and language is what makes Cixin so amazing.

The concepts of love and consciousness
are deeply interwoven and add an etxra, unusual layer onto the usual hard sci-fi cake. Combined with the, already inflationary overmentioned, lyrical language, metaphors, and Cixins´amazing sense for style, many passages are closer to high quality nonfiction than the often more clinical, constructed sci-fi landscapes. The focus on even more character than in the first part makes it even more accessible too.

Extreme we´re so small moments
Hardly a series could show the primitivity and technological stone age level of humankind like this one, owning us as the ones who are just entering the multidimensional stages on a ridiculous just 3 dimensional level. And just as modern military wipes the floor with medieval knights, a species multi k, million, or even billion years expanding into the universe and developing Clarketech so unimaginable we deem it impossible will just see us as bugs and parasites in the fur of primitives like Trisolaris people. Just pests with the potential to become as big as the exterminator, try to imagine future evolution and what we might look like in the year

Future history timelines influenced by freaking cool people
Thanks to cryogenic sleep, a far longer time period can be seen through the eyes of protagonists of the first part and I´m so looking forward to how this evolves in the third part I´m currently reading, damn I should stop being so redundant. It´s not just great for humor, for letting the, let´s say 23rd century humans look like primitive fools in the year 4000, but an incredible trope to play with economic, social, governmental, and especially technical aspects. Because saying that something is impossible is as arrogant as if bacteria eons ago would have said that they´re the pinnacle of evolution and thereby created a wacky microorganism sect. But look, we´ve evolved to a virus style, planet eating, parasitic, warmongering, and totally crazy superorganism. Still much room for improvement to become a galactic plague.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.5k followers
August 4, 2020
While the first half was incredibly painful to read (how much sexism can you excuse with cultural differences?) the second half did redeem this book for me.

It will be hard to find more books with this many interesting scientific concepts but be warned it's a struggle to go through the descriptions of the main character's ideal woman.
Profile Image for Adina.
827 reviews3,226 followers
June 13, 2018
A to Z around the world personal challenge – C is for China

"The past was like a handful of sand you thought you were squeezing tightly, but which had already run out through the cracks between your fingers. Memory was a river that had run dry long ago, leaving only scattered gravel in a lifeless riverbed. He had lived life always looking out for the next thing, and whenever he had gained, he had also lost, leaving him with little in the end.
This series is amazing. I started it in order to accomplish my plan to improve my knowledge of quality SF but I think I am in trouble. I might have found one of the best SF novel(s) and everything I will read from now one will be compared with these ones. My fear is that most of them will come up short."

Why I love this series so much although it is disturbing and scary? Because it more than science fiction. It is a disturbing door into human’s soul, politics, psychology and philosophy when faced with a major crisis. There a large number of scientific ideas here that are way above my understanding but even those passages were written well enough to feel interesting and are smoothly integrated in the story. The writing is amazing (and so is the translation), some of the chapters are almost a work of genius, in my opinion. For example, the prologue in this volume with the ant’s journey, amazing.

If you enjoy SF and are prepared for an amazing yet uncomfortable journey, please start with the first volume. I will talk more specifically about the Dark Forest now so if you haven’t read The Three-Body Problem, stop here.

! Contains spoilers for the first volume in the series.

I thought the appeal of the series was in the surprise and the way the author introduced the Trisolari civilization to the reader, the way their invasion was discovered and the originality of the atmosphere in the first book where nothing was certain until almost the end. I thought The Dark Forest will suffer from a middle book syndrome and it will not be able to surprise me. I was wrong. The novel is as, if not more, amazing as the first. It’s darker, it made me lose my trust in humanity (not that I had too much to begin with) but it was so worth reading.

The volume begins 2 years after the world found out about the Trisolari invasion which will reach Earth in about 500 years. It explores the reaction people (as individuals) and humanity have when they are faces with an invisible, distant but certain danger. Let’s say the result is not pretty. Liu Cixin goes deep into people’s psychic and brings out some disturbing monsters. Not everything is dark and without hope but the journey is not easy. The author puts forwards some interesting notions such as defeatism and escapism and it was surprising to see how they developed on paper.

If in the first novel I complained about the characterization of characters, I can’t no say the same think about The Dark Forest. However, I do have a small issue about the role of women in this novel, which is mainly decorative. It does get better in the distant future period but there is no female character sufficiently developed. I was especially annoyed about Luo Ji's imaginary ideal of girlfriend and the subsequent real one. Luo Ji was also portrait as a childish and selfish person so I guess the author doesn't care much about people in general. The rest of the book was too good so i decided to ignore these issues.

I am still not sure about the Author’s political agenda, I am still looking for clues. He is opposed to totalitarianism but when he imagines a libertarian society in the future he also exposes the perils of that regime. One of my Gr friends mentions Marx’s materialism theory and he might be on to something. However, I know almost nothing about that theory (except for what I read on Wikipedia) so I will abstain from comments. I am sure I will find out more in the 3rd installment which I read will be equally amazing with a far larger imaginative scope.

“Right now, the greatest obstacle to humanity’s survival comes from itself.”
Profile Image for Stevie Kincade.
153 reviews100 followers
November 18, 2016
Mr Liu Cixin, my name is Stevie Kincade and I am your wallbreaker!

(Audiobook) Well not really but that seemed like the obvious way to start this review since I have some femur sized BONES TO PICK with this book.

The Dark Forrest is a 23 hour audiobook. Is there an interesting idea for us to digest at the end of it? MOS DEF. Do I wish I could have 22 hours of my life back (OK more like 16 due the miracles of modern audio technology) and just listen to the “dark forrest speech” then google “Dark Forrest Fermi paradox”? HELL YES!

Liu’s thesis is an intelligent and scarier version of Brian Cox’s recent solution to the
Fermi Paradox which you can spoil for yourself or not.

The obvious comparison for Liu is Stephen Baxter. Baxter is often noted for his mind blowing hard science ideas and his comparatively wooden characters and dialogue. It must be said that compared to Liu, Baxter’s characters and dialogue are 3 dimensional sentient beings ready to burst off the page and into your lap. While we endure 22 hours waiting for our hard SF payoff our main plot points concern a “spell/curse” (which IS eventually explained satisfactorily) and an imaginary girlfriend come to life (which is as out of place and welcome in our story as a turd in a punch bowl).

Holy crap was this book tedious. I mean the first 18 hours were just excruciatingly slow. We spent hours and hours (and hours) on the imaginary-girlfriend-come-to-life story. While I normally dislike ascribing whatever romantic or sexual storyline occurs in the book to the writer’s fantasy - I could not help but think “this Liu guy has a real waifu fetish going on right”?

The primary female character in our story exists only to serve as a hostage for our male protagonist later in the book. She does absolutely nothing but look dreamy and talk in poems. This comes after the main female character in the Three Body Problem murders her husband and dooms the entire world. Another woman spends her whole life in a long con against her husband. So I am going to have to be excused for thinking that just maybe the author has some issues with women and/or Mommy that need resolving.

As much time as we spent on the “human drama” between cardboard characters and worrying about the morale of humanity once they learn the Trisolarian’s are coming, Liu would just rush through other seemingly massive developments in 2 sentences. We get a Space elevator in less than a paragraph. He describes a fusion breakthrough in 2 sentences. Now back to our regularly scheduled soap opera. For 23 hours.

Any dialogue between 2 characters seemed like a completely unauthentic performance for the benefit of the reader. “Say there Wong Ding as you know the Sophons can bla bla bla”. Every time 2 people talked it seemed fake and unnatural. At some point we can’t just keep excusing terrible writing as a translation error or a cultural difference, it is just BAD WRITING.

In the Three Body Problem the intelligencia of the world all played a game called “3 body” and when someone finally works out that the solution is that there are “3 bodies in the sky” the confetti falls and CONGRATULATION GENIUS - go to level 2 message occurs – that is just BAD WRITING. When Liu established the “rules” of his universe then breaks them – that is not a translation error that Ken Liu could have magically whisked away – it is just SHITE WRITING. BAD WRITING

Let’s talk about the “Sophons”, those magical particles from the 11th dimension. It seems to me if Sophon’s exist then the “Dark Forrest” premise is mute since Sophon’s allow one society to gather massive amounts of data on another. Can we talk about how the Trisolarian’s have the technology to put a super computer into a molecule, instantaneously transport it across the Galaxy to Earth but when it comes to space travel – they are using the equivalent of the horse-drawn carriage to slooooowly inch their way across the Galaxy? Humans could never dream of Sophon technology but in a few years they develop ships that can travel much faster than the Trisolarians….No? Let’s just move on.

Is the whole “wallbreakers/wallfacers” idea very silly? Yes. Imagine how well things would go if we unfroze Napoleon or Robert E Lee and put them in charge of the war in Afghanistan. Liu tries to say that the change in technology doesn’t really matter and that the new technology is just a “black box” so all the frozen people eventually end up in charge of the military. The way the wallbreakers “confront” the wallfacers and lay out their entire plans like supervillains in the 1960’s Batman show is just another example of how unnatural all of the dialogue in this book feels.

I would rather tell people to avoid something and have them like it then tell people something was amazing and have them think it stunk. So If you want to you can save yourself 22 hours and read my one paragraph attempt at a humorous recap of the story and then google “Dark forrest Fermi paradox”. (Warning: contains swearing)

It is a little unfair to compare narrator PJ Ochlan to Luke Daniels who gave one of the ALL TIME great performances in the 3 body problem. Ochlan was very good, obviously this is incredibly hard to narrate with over 50 characters. My stoopid Caucasian brain refused to remember anyone’s name except Luo Ji (Luigi!) and Jong Bai Hai because of his crazy story. I never got lost because I always knew who was who by context. I thought the policeman had some character in the last book but it was actually just Luke Daniels making him more than 1 dimensional through sheer willpower and cigarette smoke. The same character is in The Dark Forrest although Liu helpfully calls him by a nickname to confuse things further and he was unmemorable. This was a very good performance, I just couldn’t tell who was who via their voice, not their name like I could in 3 body.

Having invested so much time in this series I am going to try “Death’s End” but I will have a very quick hook if it starts as slow as “The Dark Forrest”. Some smart people really like this book. I liked the concept of “the dark forrest” I just hated the 22 hour shit-fight to get to it. I frequently wondered how someone as smart as Liu obviously is to come up with the "dark Forrest" concept, could have so many ridiculous plot elements.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,560 reviews856 followers
February 6, 2023
Remembrance of Earth's Past #2: The first book in this series The Three-Body Problem completely blew up my idea of what to expect from top drawer science-fiction, a bar set so high, as the best sci-fi that I have ever read that I had no qualms in readily expecting this book to not reach those heights, and guess what? This book surpasses the The Three-Body Problem in core concepts, space war, alien tech and above all storytelling! The next bit of this review has some very mild spoilers so please do not read below the GIF, if you prefer to go into reads blind.

Not satisfied with further underlining all the skills he showed in The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu deftly applies multiple storytelling techniques that delighted me throughout with some superbly subtle foreshadowing that I only noted in hindsight and a near genius interpretation of the book title itself. I took so long to read this, as I only wanted to read it when I could totally immerse myself in it, I wanted to slowly and meticulously enjoy the journey, because my greedy speed reading of The Three-Body Problem was my only negative of that read. Seriously all readers should read this series, I realy mean this, this work is exceptional, just for starters it blows every other sci-fi writer out of the water. 10.5 out of 12, FIVE STAR READ!
Also until further notice, I have to use this UK pop group Five Star's GIF for all my Five Star reads - love it :D

2022 bad-ass read
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
August 20, 2015
Will the Dark Forest sprout the seeds of love?

It's an excellent question, even if it induces a deep pessimism and the likelihood of eventual suicide. And yet, this is exactly what we're asked to consider at the end of this excellent novel.

First things first. How does it compare to the first novel? Well, it's a very different read. I can even say it's sedate and deliberate, despite the axe being held over the Earth and all its inhabitants for hundreds of years. We've got a sociology experiment going on here, with lines drawn between optimism and pessimism, faith and despair, and it shows in everything that goes on in the world. In this respect, the novel is very much a product of the many classics of the SF genre that never need to rely on great space battles to tell a good story, and while there IS a space battle, and it's very interesting, it is by far and away the least important message that the novel is wanting to get across.

Strategy is the real plot motivator here, like playing an extremely long game of Go. Lies and the game of darkness is necessary and obvious from the start. Whomever plays the game best will manage to save their civilization. Humans? Or Tri-Solarans?

The secret is there all along, from the first few pages to the last few, and yet we have hundreds of years, societal upheavals, blackmail, and the unsatisfied desire to live a simple and good life.

I started the novel assuming that I'd have a problem with the characterizations again, as I did with the TBP. For the longest time, I just assumed that I'd be dealing with cardboard characters that were only there to promote and ultimately propel the story forward. (Which would have been fine, in fact, because the TBP was so full of wonderful ideas and scope that it held its own regardless.)

I honestly didn't expect The Dark Forest to actually hold up its main character, Lou Ji, to a higher standard and push him through the tale as strongly as it did. Perhaps, had I known that he'd be as strong as he was, I would have paid much closer attention to him from the very start.

As it is now, I'll know what I'll need to do upon a second closer reading. What was mostly unsaid was his internal debate, but that's no matter, because it was always there, mostly hidden in the same way that the Dark Forest hides all.

With some effort, though, his motivations and plan could easily be mapped and enjoyed as an omniscient reader, enriching the tale's excellent ideas with a truly heroic and sacrificed man.

Will the dark forest sprout the seeds of love? Who knows. But it's clear that Lou Ji plans to live his life under the assumption, up to and beyond the point of his greatest despair. I loved it. This novel is not an idea novel, after all.

Sure, it has plenty of interesting ideas, from turning fight vs flight into a moral and then a forced imperative, to assuming that the best way to fight transparency is with the occult. Speculative science took a serious back seat in this novel, but that's okay. We had plenty of other things to keep us busy.

As for the bad parts of this novel? Well, the translation of certain terms are extremely unfortunate. I can't tell you how much I absolutely hate the terms used for our heroes and our villains. Wall-Facers and Wall-Breakers? Seriously? Yes, I get it. You face the wall and contemplate how to scale it, planning move after move until you cannot be beat. Got it. Wall-breakers break the Wall-Facers. Got it.

But, my god, they sound so stupid in English. I would have been fine with a dumb name like Go-Masters or Chess-Masters. At least we'd have a better image in our heads than someone who sits like a dunce in a classroom after being scolded by the teacher. Seriously.

Other than that, I really enjoyed the stratagems between these contestants with the weight of the worlds upon their shoulders, even if it did seem a bit contrived that the UN would decide to prop up a few of their best and brightest to face off with the Tri-Solarans in a battle of wits. (The Tri-Solarans still have their molecule-probes, and they can place them wherever they want to watch and plan accordingly, so with this greater intelligence on their side, the UN planned to force all that intelligence gathering upon these Wall-Facers as either the heroes-that-must-be-beat, or one fantastic diversion to put the enemy off the trail. Not bad reasoning at all, if you can convince the enemy to fall for it. Fortunately, they did.)

I truly believe that the two novels go nicely with each other, and now, I'm even more excited to read the third, but now my expectations have been adjusted away from epic space craziness into the true beginnings of real communication and discovery. Again, shall we go over the dichotomies of faith and despair? I thought not. :)

It's a very thoughtful novel. I recommend it to everyone who loved the Three Body Problem with the caveat that you ought to expect a grand social and strategic battle of wits that showcases an understated and lazy hero who's only claim to fame is a deeper understanding of the stakes and the will to keep his mouth very tightly shut. (That part was very satisfying.)

Was it challenging? Yes. Was I slightly disappointed at times? Yes. Did I get over it? Absolutely. :)
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,535 followers
February 15, 2020
Every bit as engrossing as The Three-Body Problem, if not more so, The Dark Forest is a masterpiece of scifi. The characters are deeper here than the first book and the technology and physics are a geek's wet dream. It is hard to say much about this book without giving put spoilers, but I really appreciated the space elevator, the Killer 5.2 virus, the underground cities, and the descriptions of the solar fleet. The droplet was a brilliant idea and still has my brain buzzing. Not to mention that theory from which the book derives its title. I loved the characters and the good news is that several of them will reappear in the last volume :)

If you like or love science fiction, run, don't walk to grab the first volume of the trilogy The Three-Body Problem. The two books are very different in narrative style and scope, but both are incredibly rewarding. On to Death's End!

Fino's Cixin Liu and other Chinese SciFi and Fantasy Reviews
The Three Body Problem
The Dark Forest
Death's End
The Wandering Earth
Supernova Era"
Ball Lightning
The Redemption of Time (Fan Fiction approved by Cixin Liu)
Invisible Planets (Short Story Anthology)
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
The Grace of Kings
The Wall of Storms
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books394 followers
May 20, 2023
My complete review is published at Grimdark Magazine.

Humanity has waged war on insects for thousands of years. Despite our superior intellect and technology, insects still survive and even thrive. At the end of The Three-Body Problem, the aliens from Trisolaris send a simple message to humanity: “You’re bugs.” The gap between the Trisolarans and humans is as large as that between humans and insects. Will humanity face annihilation from this vastly more intelligent species set on colonizing Earth, or will it find a way to survive after being demoted to an insectoid state?

The people of Earth have about 400 years to prepare for the arrival of the Trisolarans, who can only travel at a small fraction of the speed of light. As the second book in Cixin Liu’s The Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, The Dark Forest tells of how humanity prepares for the arrival of the Trisolarans. The main challenge is that the Trisolarans have bugged Earth with sophons, intelligent subatomic particles that can monitor all human communication and instantaneously relay it to the traveling Trisolarans via quantum entanglement.

The sophons can monitor any communication, but they cannot penetrate the human mind. As such, the United Nations Planetary Defense Council selects four individuals to formulate survival plans entirely in their own minds, without ever communicating their ideas to anyone to avoid interception by the Trisolarans. These so-called “Wallfacers” are given essentially unlimited resources to support their plans, with no questions asked.

The first three Wallfacers are well-respected intellectuals with extensive experience in science and politics. Each of these Wallfacers is assigned a Wallbreaker by the competing Earth-Trisolaris Organization (ETO), a cult whose members worship the Trisolarans as deities. The Wallbreakers seek to expose and sabotage the plans being developed by the Wallfacers.

To everyone’s surprise, the fourth and final Wallfacer is selected to be Luo Ji, the main character of the book. Luo is an astronomer and sociology professor, but without any impressive credentials to justify his appointment as a Wallfacer. He is unambitious and uses his position as a Wallfacer to live an opulent lifestyle, which includes a bizarre and rather sexist subplot where Luo instructs his head of security to track down the perfect woman of his dreams. The ETO doesn’t bother to assign a Wallbreaker to Luo, believing that he serves as his own Wallbreaker.

The first half of The Dark Forest is a slog. Whereas The Three-Body Problem focuses on hard science within its tight-knit plot, the first half of The Dark Forest meanders rather aimlessly among existential philosophical musings and the fairly ridiculous plans concocted by the Wallfacers. Another major problem is Luo Ji, whom I find to be quite unlikeable as a main character. Luo pales in comparison to the brilliant, emotionally devastated Ye Wenjie of the first novel. Luo Ji’s overt sexism certainly doesn’t help, which is especially disappointing after having Ye Wenjie as the strong female lead of The Three-Body Problem.

Fortunately, Cixin Liu introduces a plot contrivance (hibernation) for the characters to escape the tedious first half of the book, propelling them 200 years into the future. The plot finally takes off as Luo awakens to an awe-inspiring future full of advanced technology. Readers are in for a wild ride in the second half of the book, which is full of action and unexpected plot twists, including the epic Doomsday Battle. Luo Ji also exhibits some positive character development in the latter part of the book, overcoming his sorry state from the first half.

Please check out by full review at Grimdark Magazine.
Profile Image for Steven Medina.
189 reviews843 followers
June 21, 2020
¡Excelente, una gran sorpresa!

Podría halagar este libro desde la primera frase de esta reseña, pero siento que es necesario primero expresarme con sinceridad. Yo, no esperaba nada de este libro. Sin siquiera abrirlo, creía que esta historia me iba a aburrir y que sufriría mucho mientras avanzaba entre páginas. Mi percepción inicial fue de escepticismo, y todo gracias a que en El Problema de los Tres Cuerpos había finalizado insatisfecho por el desarrollo de los personajes y la redacción. Lo inicié a leer solo para cumplir una promesa en la que me comprometí a finalizar esta trilogía, no había otras razones. Lo que no esperaba era que hacer esa promesa me ofrecería la oportunidad de conocer una obra literaria espectacular, donde terminaría encantado con la ciencia ficción que expone Liu Cixin y asimismo muy motivado para leer la tercera parte. Ha sido una gran sorpresa, que me deja la gran lección de no juzgar sin antes conocer.

Este libro lo inicié con una actitud quisquillosa, en donde me centré en solo encontrar aspectos negativos de esta historia. ¿Los encontré? Por supuesto. Por ejemplo, las historias paralelas del comienzo me aburrieron completamente y no lograba conectarme o emocionarme por la trama. La única historia que me llamó la atención fue la del astrofísico Luo Ji, pero ese interés se vio turbado cuando hablaron de su “novia” y contaron su pasado. Fue de lo más extraño que he leído en mi vida. Esos reproches se acabaron al llegar a la página 150. Después de ahí, quedé fascinado con todo lo que se presentaba.

Algo que me desanimaba para leer esta obra era la terminología científica. En el Problema de los Tres Cuerpos, sufrí en exceso por comprender las conversaciones que usaban esos vocablos, tanto así, que sentí que esas partes del libro eran hechas para los propios científicos. En cambio en esta ocasión, fue muy sencillo entender todo debido a la mejora que presenta su prosa, no solo en los textos científicos, sino también en los personajes. Aunque los personajes, tienen nombres difíciles de diferenciar, como Zhang y Zhuang, Liu Cixin va más allá y plantea los pensamientos, sentimientos y comportamientos que podría llegar a tener la humanidad en caso de un real peligro de extinción. Psicológicamente los personajes se ven destrozados y se sumergen en el suicidio, escapismo, aislamiento, resignación, locura, desesperación, nostalgia, etc., dando a entender que en esos casos podría salir lo peor de cada de uno de nosotros. A la vez, nos muestra cómo puede alterarse la fe de la sociedad ante una mínima opción de esperanza. En este caso y sin hablar más de ello, esa opción de esperanza se llama el Proyecto Vallado.

Consideramos a escritores como Julio Verne, Arthur C. Clarke o Isaac Asimov como genios que lograron con sus obras predecir el futuro. Pues bien, quizás en unos siglos más adelante se consideré a Liu Cixin como un miembro de esta categoría, y eso es debido a que los logros científicos y técnicos que se exponen en este libro quizás se desarrollen en el futuro. Su creatividad no se limita a los viajes espaciales y extraterrestres, sino que presenta inventos como virus tecnológicos capaces de rastrear y asesinar personas, hibernación, bombas aptas para explotar el sistema solar, balas de meteorito o ascensores que permiten a la humanidad llegar al espacio. Todo este tipo de detalles me transmitieron deseos de viajar en el tiempo hacia el futuro y comprobar con mis propios ojos, el progreso que la tecnología y la ciencia tendrá en algunos siglos.

Si lo que buscan es ciencia ficción, este libro es para ustedes. Si les gustó la primera parte, este les va a gustar mucho más. Si en cambio con el primer libro no quedaron satisfechos y/o tienen dudas de continuar la trilogía, déjenme decirles que por este libro vale la pena continuar. Desconozco si el tercer tomo sea igual de bueno, ya comentaré de él más adelante cuando lo lea, pero en cuanto a este es espectacular. Por la ciencia ficción expuesta aquí, es que este libro sin dudarlo se merece las cinco estrellas.

En resumen, un libro que de inicio puede aburrirnos y sentiremos deseos de abandonarlo; pero, que si le tenemos un poco de paciencia, encontraremos un libro cuasi perfecto, lleno de ciencia ficción, planes, trampas, sorpresas y una visión futurista que nos cautivara hasta el final del libro. Reitero que en mi opinión, este ejemplar es mucho mejor que El Problema de los Tres Cuerpos. Ahora, continuaré con El fin de la muerte.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
699 reviews868 followers
November 8, 2019
The Dark Forest is a stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed The Three-Body Problem and in my opinion, surpassed it by the magnitude of astronomical units.

While I hold the first book in high regard, I had to admit that characterisation was sidelined in the narrative which focussed heavily on the science and plot. The sequel's storytelling approach was more balanced with the hard science toned down somewhat and character development emerging more prominently. The leading character in this respect is Luo Ji, an astronomer and sociologist, who was given cryptic advice by the person responsible for the events leading to the impending extraterrestrial invasion. Luo Ji cuts an anti-hero figure who wanted nothing to do with saving the world and just continue flitting around in life, almost frivolously, as an ordinary person. On top of becoming invested in his person, I was also delighted that arising from his POV we have the return of my favourite character from the previous book, Shi Qiang (nicknamed Da Shi), the hard-boiled ex-policeman who works for the Planetary Defence Council security department. Between Luo Ji and another prominent character, Zhang Beihai, a naval political commissar turned space officer, the story and its central plot weave a compelling, fascinating and unpredictable path through the epoch-spanning narrative.

Being an ‘ownvoices' reader, I appreciated how much the prose emanates one which is written by a Chinese. And I'm also grateful that the translation kept the essence of the writing style. Cultural values aside, the visuals which come across in writing is undisputedly Eastern. I cannot define nor explain what I mean, but it is a feeling that permeates my heart and soul, especially when I read some of the more abstract passages. I felt the female representation also stayed fairly true to Chinese culture. The female characters in the story, although none are main characters and do not appear often, radiate quiet strength, intelligence and sensitivity.

As the human-race cast their eyes into space through the Hubble II telescope, humanity is placed under a microscope in this riveting account of how mankind handle imminent annihilation. Life by nature is stubborn, and when survival instincts kick in, the prognosis can be shockingly dark. As much as I will like to gush about the masterful turn of events and circumstances in this book, I am all too aware that every little reveal will chip away at the story's immense potential for inciting amazement the way it did for me. The unfolding of the story, which spanned a very substantial time-period, also conveys the stark reality of the infinitesimally brief lifespan of humans against that of the universe and the immeasurably vast distances of space.

I cannot even remember when these thoughts came into being, but I had always believed that the universe is too massive for other intelligent beings not to exist elsewhere. Plus, after knowing about how life has begun and evolved on this planet, I was also pretty sure that other sapient and alien life could be completely dissimilar from us due to the different planetary compositions and gravitation pulls across the boundlessness of space. The contention that we are the only intelligent lifeform in the whole universe, even with the lack of evidence to the contrary, strikes me as supreme arrogance, and yet so typical of humankind. The question then had always been why we have yet to come into contact or even caught sight of any extraterrestrial beings. Cixin Liu applied the discussion of what is known as the Fermi's Paradox with the concept of The Dark Forest; hence the title of this book. Though I cannot speak on behalf of other readers, I found his argument convincing. This is summarily encapsulated in the quote below, and reinforced by a devastating display of preeminent power in a late scene.

"If I destroy you, what business is it of yours?"

Two books in and I hold firm on my view that Remembrance of Earth's Past is the most original, thought-provoking and unpredictable science fiction narrative of plausible events that I've ever read. This second volume wrapped up the story so conclusively that I almost felt that the series could have ended here. Right here, right now, I am calling this one of my favourite science fiction series and highly recommend it to all fans of the genre.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Claudia.
954 reviews533 followers
April 29, 2017
2nd read

It has one of the most stunning chapters I ever read in my life - the one with the droplet: it simply stops your breath; you choke with the words as you read them; and at the end, you'll feel like hit by a train.

But I won't praise it again; I did that already. Instead, I will leave one more quote from this incredible work (oops, I did it again :D):
"[...] two axioms for cosmic civilization. First, survival is the primary need of civilization. Second, civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant. [...] The universe is a black forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life - another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod - there's only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. In this forest, hell is other people. An eternal threat that any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. This is the picture of cosmic civilization. It's the explanation for the Fermi Paradox. [...] But in this dark forest, there's a stupid child called humanity, who has built a bonfire and is standing beside it shouting, 'Here I am! Here I am!' "
Just few more days till the last book...

(reread in September 2016)

1st read

...almost there with the wish...

How can this be even more amazing than the first part, when the first one was simply incredible?!

Much more than a sci-fi saga, it is a thorough introspection of human soul and behavior, when facing the ultimate threat, extinction. Political factors, sociological and psychological ones are major parts of this insight in human race as a whole.

In a semi-post-apocalyptic society and apparently, prior to total annihilation, it touches some very sensitive hotspots:
“I believe, not because I have any proof, but because it’s relatively safe: If there really is a God, then it’s right to believe in him. If there isn’t, then we don’t have anything to lose.”
“Right now, the greatest obstacle to humanity’s survival comes from itself.”
You will find a new approach of the laws of physics in Liu Cixin's vision, one which will blow your mind and a lot of other genuine ideas.

First time when I regret not knowing Chinese because April seems so far away right now...
Profile Image for Jody .
201 reviews133 followers
March 8, 2018
The Dark Forest is a brilliant piece of sci-fi literature. The scope and imagination that Mr. Liu Cixin put into this book is nothing short of genius. At least in my humble opinion. I will admit the first 15% didn't hold my interest that well, but after that it was very hard to put down.

While book 1, The Three-Body Problem, explains the history of how contact was made with the Trisolarians and their intentions, book 2, The Dark Forest, details how humanity is trying to prepare for an unknowable future and what extent will we go to for survival. Let me just say, some of the ideas in this story, while being brilliant, are also scary as hell. Sometimes simple solutions are the best answers. But, when dealing with time and space the answers can take decades, or even centuries to show themselves.

"Right now, the greatest obstacle to humanity's survival comes from itself."

There is a mix of old and new characters in this installment. I was glad to see Da Shi, a planetary defense officer, was back and still his old reliable self. He is cunning, with street smarts that a lot of the more intellectual characters of course lack. Zhang Beihai, space force officer and former Chinese naval officer, who has an unshakable belief in humanity and his duty to its future. The MC, Luo Ji, is a new character. He is an astronomer and sociologist who is tasked with becoming part of a UN project known as The Wallfacer Project. He is lazy and somewhat self-absorbed, but also brilliant and clever in his own way. The remarkable thing that Mr. Liu Cixin did with these characters is due to the situation you never truly know their intentions or mind set. The reader is lead in one direction only to be turned upside later when the true direction is revealed. It keeps you off balance and makes for an exciting and unpredictable read. I had several WTF moments when certain characters true intentions were exposed.

"Make time for civilization, for civilization won't make time."

I am still a bit of a novice when it comes to sci-fi novels, so for me to say this breaks the mold of a conventional sci-fi story can be taken with a grain of salt. The theme has been done before of course, but this is definitely on a whole new level from any other sci-fi story I have read. Like I said, take my opinion how you want, but I guarantee when you reach the end of this book you will be completely shocked and in awe of the outcome. The title itself brings a whole new meaning to "Are we alone in the universe."

I understand this trilogy may not appeal to everyone. However, I am a firm believer if you enjoy sci-fi, then this is a story you need to read. I will admit it is not without it's faults, but the scope and magnitude it offers to the sci-fi genre is immense by my standards. So, I urge all sci-fi fans that have not read this yet to give it a try. I will be continuing my adventure immediately with the last book, Death's End.

"Darkness was the mother of life and civilization."

5 stars *****
August 12, 2022
I loved this hard. As I downed my second glass of bourbon (a charmingly-named Old Tub), I felt warm, liquid affection for all you amazing people who read this book. I mean, really, how many people are down for hours of reading about Fermi Paradox-level cosmic hijinks? Cheers to you.

Profile Image for Kevin Kuhn.
Author 2 books564 followers
October 18, 2021
I should love this series. It scratches all my science fiction itches. It is a continuous onslaught of intriguing ideas. It has a complex plot loaded with intrigue. It has an enormous scale both in terms of time and space. It explores the universe and humanity’s place in it, supported by science/physics. It has sections of lyrical prose and well-crafted imagery. And don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the series. I’ll definitely read the last in the trilogy. However, surprisingly, I don’t love it. In fact, there were some sections that felt like a chore to read.

If you’re not familiar with this series, it’s a colossal story of humanities first contact with a distant race – the Trisolarians. Hugo award winning book one (The Three Body Problem) starts with the Chinese Culture Revolution, then explores contact with the Trisolarians and their incredible backstory. Anymore would be a spoiler for book one, so I’ll leave it at that.

“The Dark Forest” largely takes place on Earth. The highly technically advanced Trisolarians are embarking for Earth with intentions of conquest and while it will take them four centuries to arrive, humanity must decide how best to make use of the centuries before they arrive. Should they escape into the cosmos, build defenses to repel the Trisolarians, or just live in peace until judgement day. This is a massive summarization, the plot itself is a highly complex tale involving science, physics, human government evolution, clandestine tactics and even love in the face of a potential approaching apocalypse.

All of this, the plot, the themes, the wonder, and ideas are right in my strike zone, so why am I not loving this series? Well, I found book one to be disjointed and muddled, possible because of the cultural differences and translation. I find the same challenges with “The Dark Forest.” At times, the plot feels like multiple short stories strung together. And I think there are chapters which would work great as a short story but feel out of place to me in this series. An example includes a story line where a primary character falls in love with a fictional character. Not to say these flourishes aren’t connected to the storyline, but the style is so different, it took me out of the reading.

In addition, I struggle with the characters in both books. A few characters are slightly distinctive, but so many felt flat and similar. I had to really pay attention to the names, because the character’s personalities never came alive in my mind. They all felt the same to me, same voice, same persona. And when I don’t care about the characters, it’s difficult to care too much for the story.

However, the ideas pretty much save this book for me. Unique, mind-bending ideas keep coming, one after another. Other science fiction writers could write a whole series based on just a few of these ideas, but Cixin Liu keeps them coming at a steady stream. In fact, another complaint of mine, is that just when I feel like I’m beginning to explore the implication of one of these concepts, boom, we're off to another! Anyway, I still recommend this series, as the scale, the wonder, the ideas, overwhelmed my inability to fully connect with the characters and therefore the story.

An epic tale of impending alien invasion crammed full with mind-stretching science implications, that while failing to consistently connect on an emotional level, delivers a veritable treasure of daring and fascinating concepts.
Profile Image for Stuart.
718 reviews267 followers
September 10, 2016
The Dark Forest: Only 400 years to prepare for an alien invasion
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
The Dark Forest is Cixin Liu’s follow-up to The Three-Body Problem (first published in English in 2014 and selected as a Hugo and Nebula Award Finalist), and is the second book in his THREE BODY apocalyptic SF trilogy (which was already published in China back in 2010). It took a while for the series to gain enough popularity in China to catch the attention of US publishers, but since the first book was released last year, major newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post have all published favorable feature articles because Chinese SF is a very rare and unknown commodity in the Western world.

The Three-Body Problem was an original blend of mystery, particle physics, global politics, virtual reality games, and alien contact. Its strengths were its ideas and extrapolation about alien contact, not characterization, and The Dark Forest follows this pattern. Now that humanity knows that aliens are coming and they are not friendly (their only statement to humanity was “You’re bugs”), they have 400 years to prepare before the alien warfleet arrives. This is an original concept in SF since most alien-contact stories start with the point of first contact and go from there. How would humanity respond when it has that much time to prepare, with most of the early generations knowing they won’t ever live to see the final confrontation with the alien Trisolarans? It’s an interesting contrast to Neal Stephenson’s latest book Seveneves, in which humanity has just 1-2 years to prepare an Ark to preserve human civilization from destruction by meteorites.

Liu postulates that humanity will struggle to put forth a united front against the aliens, even faced with annihilation in four centuries. This makes perfect sense from a psychological point of view: how many of us put off tomorrow what could be done today, like my daughter watching YouTube when she should be studying, or humanity using up fossil fuels and resources without concern for the next generation? Then imagine that 16 generations will go by before the Trisolarans will come to Earth and exterminate us like bugs. Why bother worrying at all? And certainly much of humanity does respond this way.

However, the Planetary Defense Council is not content to admit defeat. It decides to establish the Wallfacer Project (pretty badly named, which is what you get for putting it to a committee to decide), which vests four individuals with enormous powers; they are tasked to come up with secret strategies to defeat the alien invasion. Secrecy is needed because the Trisolarans have infiltrated the Earth with sophons, subatomic particles that contain super-powerful AIs capable of eavesdropping on all human communications around the world. Because of this, the only way to deceive the Trisolarans is to essentially keep all real plans unspoken, and to misdirect human society as well.

The first three Wallfacers selected are well-known political figures or scientists, but inexplicably the final member selected is Luo Ji, an unknown Chinese astronomer and sociologist. Thanks to a visit from Ye Wenjie (a major character from the previous book), he develops an interest in “cosmic sociology,” which postulates that there are only two major axioms that an intelligent species will follow: 1) the ultimate imperative is survival of your species, and 2) there is limited mass in the universe but life grows exponentially, so life must fight for space. Based on these principles, any species encountering another has only one logical choice: strike first and destroy the other before it happens to them. The concept of “chains of doubt” essentially ensures that an intelligent species cannot assume another is benign, so it must attack first to survive. It’s clear that the Trisolarans have taken this approach, especially since their own solar system is unstable and likely to destroy itself. By that calculus, it doesn't matter if mankind is friendly or not: we have a habitable planet and they do not. We’re “bugs,” and it’s not our business if they want to wipe us out.

Surprisingly, the Trisolarans still have some human supporters (i.e., those who oppose humanity) on Earth, and they establish a counter-strategy that assigns a Wallbreaker for each Wallfacer. As the story proceeds, the first two Wallfacers come up with wildly different schemes, only to be foiled by their Wallbreakers. With each defeat, humanity becomes increasingly convinced it stands no chance against the Trisolarans. However, Luo Ji takes a very unorthodox approach, seeming not to care and indulging in a hedonistic lifestyle. Though this is designed to throw the Trisolarans and their Wallbreakers off the scent, even his closest friends (and readers of The Dark Forest) are confused.

The story then leaps ahead by 200 years, as we find that Luo Ji and Da Shi (the gruff cop from the first book) have gone into cryogenic hibernation, hoping to see an age when humanity has made more scientific progress to meet the oncoming alien invasion. Initially, they are impressed by technological advances such as fusion-powered starships, powerful space weaponry, ubiquitous electric power, etc. However, they notice that humans in the future have gotten a bit too confident in their abilities, and are quite complacent in assuming their superiority to the Trisolaran fleet. They seem to have forgotten that earlier message, “You’re bugs.”

Up to this point I found the first two-thirds of The Dark Forest to have interesting ideas but was somewhat slow-going amid a lack of interesting events to forward the plot. This was much the same in The Three-Body Problem. But like that book, the third act really packs a punch, with so many earlier plot lines finally reaching fruition and making the overall storyline much clearer. The most impressive set-piece here is the encounter between the initial scout ship of the Trisolaran fleet, an unassuming tear-shaped “droplet” that is perfectly smooth and light-reflecting, and the big and powerful Space Fleet of humanity, all geared-up and spoiling for a fight. The ensuing battle is quite spectacular and humbling by turns.

In the aftermath, several surviving human ships (dubbed “Starship Earth”) seek to leave the Solar System and establish humanity in another part of space, out of range of the Trisolarans. However, severed from the ties of Mother Earth, they turn on each other in a savage enactment of the “cosmic sociology” axiom of survival at all costs.

Finally, reluctant hero Luo Ji again finds himself the only person on Earth able to clearly understand the Trisolaran’s thinking and come up with a suitable counter-strategy that will keep them from wiping out humanity. His solution is quite intricate and well-conceived, and provides a sinister explanation to Fermi’s Paradox, but this all happens in just a few densely-written pages, so you have to pay close attention to understand what happens. His actions also set the stage for the series’ final installment, Death’s End, due out in January 2016 from Tor, and from the publisher’s description, the relationship of humans and Trisolarans has changed completely from what we were led to expect previously.

As with The Three-Body Problem, I thought The Dark Forest was filled with neat ideas and clunky characterization, and the first two-thirds of the book were somewhat slow-going but the pyrotechnics of the final third made up for it. I listened to the audiobook narrated by P.J. Ochlan, and he did a good job including pronunciation of the Chinese names, though I still have trouble keeping them straight in my head without seeing them on the page. This book was translated by Joel Martinsen, and I believe he did a good job, as did Ken Liu for the first book. I don’t think the characters are wooden because of the translation — that lies with the author, and I think his strength is more in ideas and extrapolation, so I am willing to overlook that. In fact, what Western readers expect from characters may be different from Chinese readers, so it’s tough to say. In any case, I still am keen to see what he can do in the trilogy's finale, Death's End.
Profile Image for Zitong Ren.
504 reviews153 followers
September 25, 2020
Compared to The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest was better in essentially every aspect. I generally consider myself to be a fan of sci-fi, even though I have not read a large number of sci-fi works, especially books on this sort of epic scale. I certainly get as to why this series is so popular, because even though I have yet to read the third book, Death’s End, The Dark Forest is stellar. I felt that the first book lacked direction, characterisation and that there was no real coherent plot, whilst I praised it for its ideas. This book definitely improved on all of those aspects by a massive amount and the way this ended was so great.

There’s a fairly interesting cast of characters here, most of which were not present in the first novel. These characters were much better developed and written as a whole in my opinion compared to Three-Body. They felt much more real and I was actually intrigued to follow them and to see where the story would take these individuals. I have certainly read better written characters, but the level of improvement compared to book one is huge. Even the more minor characters had some sort of personality that made them unique and each of the individual Wallfacers, especially Luo Ji were particularly interesting to read about.

The Dark Forest also featured a more coherent plot that had a purpose. Throughout the novel, there was a clear end goal in mind, and I liked that as book 1 felt very aimless. The pacing stays pretty steady during the course of the entire novel. There aren’t really any chapters, but merely a few parts, but these are divided between constant switches of POV’s that is able to keep the reader engaged amongst all the areas the novel needs to cover. I really liked the ending and at how it really fitted the title of the novel.

Both of these first two books are, or at least feels incredibly smart(or that I’m really dumb, both can be true at the same time). There’s a lot of scientific things being thrown around that certainly makes it feel much more realistic for sure. I don’t know how plausible some of these things are, especially in terms of some of the really advanced technology, but it is presented in a way that certainly feels real enough. There’s a lot of moments that does make you think, and a lot of discussions can be had over some of these things that this book constantly talks about and it really looks at humanity as a whole.

The last 100-150 pages of this are just fantastic. It was tense, exciting and featured extremely high stakes and while there was one thing that I sort of predicated of part 3 of this book, it did not go in the direction I expected it to. It was actually pretty conclusive that while there is a lot left to tell, I mean the last book is over 700 pages for crying at loud, so I am really excited as to what direction the final book go in. I was the slightest bit nervous going into this book because I didn’t Three Body, I gave it three stars, but now I am really excited to finish the last book because of how much I enjoyed this book.

What I often really love about sci-fi are the concepts and the way it explores these certain concepts in such varied and unique ways. This trilogy’s concept is great, and the author has been able to do some really interesting and fascinating things with it and I really loved that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, much more so than book 1 and I am excited as to what will happen in book 3. 9/10
Profile Image for Andrea.
378 reviews53 followers
August 12, 2015
Couldn't put it down. Literally. I neglected other duties for 36 hours. Excellent continuation of the story. Again, fascinating view of drivers of species survival seen through a different cultural lens, somewhat alien to my Western background. I did not expect it to follow the usual paths of English and USA scifi and it did not disappoint. Loved it.

Unfortunately the translation jarred at times. Luckily infrequently. But not enough for me to deduct a star.
Profile Image for María.
193 reviews79 followers
July 24, 2020
Si el primer libro de la trilogía me gustó este me ha dejado con la boca abierta.
Es increíble la cantidad de hipótesis científicas, reflexiones morales y demás ideas que desarrolla Cixin Liu en esta segunda parte. Cada página es una joya, cada momento, cada situación, cada decisión te hace reflexionar, replantearte muchas cosas e inevitablemente posicionarte.
El final no me lo esperaba, es maravilloso en su sencillez e impresionante en su originalidad. No sé que me encontraré en el siguiente libro, pero si esto sigue así las cinco estrellas de Goodreads se me van a quedar cortas.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,649 reviews1,690 followers
September 28, 2016
Oh, man. Okay. What a weird book.

(Spoilers for book one ahoy.)

So the Trisolarans are coming, man! They're coming! And humanity has four centuries to prepare. Particles called sophons are monitoring everything on Earth (all communication, written, spoken), and locking down technological and scientific advancement in order to cripple humanity in advance of their invasion. The only place safe from Trisolaran view is the individual human mind. Thus the Wallfacer Project is born. Four men (seriously, no ladies?) are chosen, and given almost unlimited resources. Their mission: To think up strategies to defeat the Trisolarans, and to obscure those strategies from everyone. This means they can discuss their plans with no one, and no one can question the orders of a Wallfacer, because everything they do might be part of the plan. The book charts the course of all four plans, focusing especially on the most curious Wallfacer, Luo Ji, on whom there is much speculation. No one knows why, but he's the only human the Trisolarans ever ordered to be assassinated, and that's why he was chosen as a Wallfacer. (The Wallfacer parts of the book were by far my favorite; I love watching sneaky plans be figured out or succeed.)

I loved The Three-Body Problem when I read it last year, as did many of you. It won the Hugo. I had some small issues with that book (mainly I felt it had some weak characters in big roles), but overall I found it interesting and exciting. So when I picked up this book, I assumed I would feel the same way. Only, no. That did not happen. Right away, I felt like I was slogging through the book. The ideas and main plot were still extremely intriguing, but everything I had a problem with in the first book seemed to have grown and reproduced.

I blamed this (as you can see below from my original "review") on the translator at first. And I do think that is a huge difference. I don't have proof yet because book three just came out and I haven't read it yet, but I'm fairly confident that when I crack that sucker open, I will immediately notice the difference between Ken Liu's style (who translated books one and three) and Joel Martinsen's. It was just awkward, the whole way through. I expected some confusion and awkwardness because of cultural differences, but for me, this guy's translation just does not work. His dialogue is awkward, his interpretation of Liu's metaphorical language (which reads a bit purple to begin with, because of cultural differences, I'm guessing) made me laugh out loud. Reading this book compared felt like going backwards in time in terms of Liu's writing ability.

Regardless of whether I've pinpointed the cause, the result was that I had an incredibly difficult time getting into this book, and put it down in February, not sure when I'd pick it back up. And when I finally got around to doing so, I used up all my renewals at the library, again, until I was forced to either decide to read it or return it, again. Last time I returned it. This time, I pushed through. I'm glad I did.

Once you get past the first quarter of this book, which Tor. com called "nearly impenetrable," the book really picks up steam. It wavers again near the 3/4 mark, but then smacks you in the face with its ending, which considering how bleak the book was until then, and how it nearly made go into existential panic mode, had a curiously upbeat and optimistic ending. Ultimately, I think the book is worth it, but I can't recommend it fully.

Particularly since the writing style wasn't my only issue. I mentioned that characterization was a problem for me in the first book, and here that rears its ugly head again. None of the characters are likable, which isn't necessarily a problem (good books don't have to have likable characters), but it's tough to spend so much time in the head of characters who are assholes (misogynistic, lazy, defeatist, pick your adjective) while you're having a hard time with the language and the story. I'm honestly more concerned with the fact that aside from a couple of them, the characters act more like avatars for plot rather than complex, three-dimensional people. Misogyny is also real problem, though I tend to see it here as more of a function of ingrained cultural behaviors than outright disdain, combined with Liu's tendency to write cardboard characters. If a woman is not a main character (and there are no women main characters in this novel) she's not going to get much respect. (He had a woman protagonist in book one, and she was extremely interesting.) Don't even start with me on Luo Ji's idea of "the perfect woman". (The Book Smugglers do a much better job of breaking this down than I do.)

But if you can push past those three barriers, the book is worth it. Really. You can definitely see the influence Golden Age sci-fi (Asimov, Bradbury) had on Liu as a writer. He's a writer of ideas played across a magnificent scale, and he's great at it. Humanity's centuries-long struggle to prepare for the incoming Trisolaran invasion is riveting and terrifying, and the dark forest metaphor that gives the book its name is a great center for book to build itself around.

At least in its English translation, I hope that this book will be the one you have to get through between two great books. I'm hoping I'm not proven wrong about that when I finally get to that last book.

Original "DNF" Review 2/27/16: I'm really having problems with the translator on this one, and it's due back at the library tomorrow. I'm just not going to be able to read it fast enough, so on the hold shelf it goes for now, until I can get it back from the library. It's a shame about the translator, really, because I think there is a really cool story in here. Definitely glad Ken Liu will be back as translator to finish out the trilogy. He's a writer himself, so he knows how to translate not just for meaning, but artistry as well.
Profile Image for Теодор Панов.
Author 4 books134 followers
November 9, 2021
След първата част „Трите тела“, която ме смая, очарова и заплени, очаквах с голямо нетърпение продължението „Тъмна гора“. И след като прочетох и нея, окончателно ми се затвърди мнението, че трилогията „Земното минало“ е едно великолепно и вълнуващо приключение за почитателите на научната фантастика.

Историята в „Тъмна гора“ протича в три части, които разказват за годините от настъпилата Кризисна епоха за човечеството. (Сега, за разлика от първата книга, където имаше обособени отделни глави, във втората част такива почти няма – тази структура, където всичко е в едно, не ми допадна съвсем – обичам да има някакво разделение в протичащото действие, а и за четене ми е по-удобно. Но както и да е.)

✔ Част 1: Стеногледци
Година 3 от Кризисната епоха - 4.0 (стр.19-228)

И така след краткия встъпителен пролог започва и самото мащабно развитие на историята с „Част 1: Стеногледци“, където се разглеждат събитията от Година 3 на Кризисната епоха.
Тук се въведени изцяло нови персонажи, които ще са задвижващата сила и ще водят действието във втората книга – Ло Дзи, Бил Хейнс, Мануел Рей-Диас, Фредерик Тайлър – хората, избрани за потенциални спасители на човечеството. Джан Бей-хай е още един персонаж с ключово значение за сюжета.

Героите от първата книга Дин И и Да Шъ се появяват и тук, но за съжаление главното действащо лице в „Трите тела“ – Уан Мяо е напълно изчезнал от историята. За него обаче имам едно предположение и ще го споделя накрая.

В част 1 освен военните стратегии на човечеството, които като цяло заемат голяма част от цялата книга, са разгледани и част от въздействията, които истината за Трителното нашествие оказва на човечеството. Тук ми се искаше и в малко по-големи детайли да бъде разгледано психическото въздействие върху отделните хора. Темата ми изглежда изключително интересна, но авторът се е съсредоточил върху други неща и това го е минал малко отгоре-отгоре.

По отношение на Ло Дзи в тази част имаше едни сюрреалистични моменти, които ми напомниха малко за Харуки Мураками.

✔ Част 2: Заклинанието (стр.229-382)
Година 8 от Кризисната епоха - 5.0
Година 12 от Кризисната епоха - 4.5
Година 20 от Кризис��ата епоха - 4.4

В „Част 2: Заклинанието“ са разгледани три от годините от началото на Кризисната епоха – 8, 12 и 20. Тук са разгърнати идеите и стратегиите, които стеногледците предприемат, срещу приближаващата Трителна флотилия. Част от тях са изумителни, други стигат до крайности в стремежите си, но като цяло са доста интересни. Ло Дзи безспорно се очерта и остана най-ярък като образ измежду четиримата. Като най-впечатляваща година в тази част ми беше Година 8 и събитията около Ло Дзи, макар че нещата след това с другите стеногледци също бяха любопитн��.

✔ Част 3: Тъмна гора (стр.383-651)
Година 205 от Кризисната епоха - 5.0
Година 208 от Кризисната епоха - 5.0
Финал - 5.0

И тук вече имаме един доста рязък завой с голям скок към бъдещето. Няма да разкривам какво точно е то, но определено изглежда поразително. А човечеството от едната крайност е стигнала до другата, та чак до степен на глупост. Имаме и първия сериозен сблъсък с трителяните. Тук нещата определено са епични. И накрая достигаме до един край, който е колкото очакван, толкова и неочакван. С втората книга завършва един цикъл, за да дойде друг, който, както изглежда, ще продължи в третата книга.

Авторът е разгърнал идеите и визията си за бъдещето по великолепен начин. Помислил е над всеки възможен детайл. ( 😀 С това определено ме изненада).

Обща оценка: 4.7 🌟

P.S. И сега малко за Уан Мяо от първата книга, за чиято съдба разбираме на страница 598 – да, като действащо лице отсъства от „Тъмна гора“. Макар че аз имам едно предположение, че въпреки това той изиграва важна роля в ключовите събития от втората книга. Срещнах и сред англоезичните читатели споделянето на тази теория и мога да приема, че е именно така. А тя е, че Уан Мяо е
Profile Image for Jonathan.
712 reviews80 followers
September 12, 2021
This is introspective, philosophical sci-fi at its finest. You won't find a ton of 'splosions and lasers here, but that's ok. It's not really the point of the book; the book's point is to examine human hubris, love, failings, and successes. Everything that makes the human condition.

When the action does come, it is largely terrifying and unexpected. I am very much enjoying this series, very different from anything I've read before, and very much appreciate the insight into a foreign mind and Liu's view of sci-fi.
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
628 reviews382 followers
February 6, 2017

Sequels are very difficult vessels to land safely.

Sequels are placed in the awkward position of providing the content that made its predecessor a success while simultaneously delivering an enjoyable story. Sequels, specifically second books in trilogies, face an even more monumental task: move the story forward and reveal just enough to leave the reader satisfied while simultaneously getting them to want to pick up the final installment. Lesser trilogies do this by making the second book a stepping-stone between introduction and finale. Those books are often unable to stand on their own and appreciated only in retrospect as part of the whole rather than on their own.

You also have books like Cixin Liu’s The Dark Forest. A book that manages to do all that you’d expect and need from a sequel while making it look easy. The Dark Forest delivers a book that is able to stand on its own and is an improvement on its predecessor.

I leveled a few complaints at Liu’s The Three-Body Problem , which kicked of Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, despite giving it a five-star rating. I praised the novel for touching on the histories of both the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the physical sciences, but took it to point for its lack of characterization. I forgave it for being a novel of ideas rather than of people, a criticism that much of SF finds leveled against it. The Dark Forest, by comparison, is a novel that marries the discovery and wonder of SF with a genuinely compelling set of characters.

Barring a few exceptions, Shi Qiang (Da Shi) is the only major character who carries over in any significant way from the first novel. The Dark Forest stands on its own by introducing a new cast of characters who will come to face the cosmic horror and improbable survival of humanity in the wake of the arrival of sophons. Luo Ji and three other humans are selected to combat this threat through a reveal of a flaw in the Trisolaran armor. A flaw that forces these four, dubbed ‘Wallfacers’, to have no counsel other than their own in their efforts to save humanity from certain doom. They are given immense resources to combat the impending alien force hurtling towards Earth without having to explain their reasoning.

So, Luo Ji takes off into the wilderness to live a life of luxury.

That’s when it hit me: this guy just made a character move that wasn’t dictated by the machinery of the plot. Luo Ji is an imaginable dude: in the face of annihilation, why not enjoy some nihilistic hedonism? All of the sudden, the whole thing turns into a romance that I hadn’t expected. Of course, it is all eventually washed away by the need for the plot to move forward, but by then, who cares? Luo Ji became a human character that I was interested in following.

Naturally, Luo Ji’s tale of self-discovery and quest for happiness is juxtaposed with the well-paced work of his fellow Wallfacers. Here the book sort of works like a spy thriller as those loyal to the Trisolarans form a group to counter the Wallfacers named, *sigh*, the ‘Wallbreakers.’ Each Wallfacer is matched to a Wallbreaker who attempts to unravel their hidden plan and leave humanity hopeless. Despite those clunky names (which I have to attribute to the translation and hope it worked better in the original Chinese), the Wallfacer projects are each interesting and once each one of them stood revealed, I couldn’t help but sit back and marvel at Cixin Liu’s impressive imagination.

What is missing from the first half of the novel is the sheer absurdity of the end of The Three-Body Problem. You’ll find no content that is spoilerish here without context, but the end of that first book gets pretty trippy while simultaneously feeling like real possible science. The second half of the novel has that in spades! There’s a change in setting and Luo Ji is suddenly in an environment quite foreign from that which he knew. The seemingly tangential plot points from earlier come to the forefront and give the novel a proper space confrontation. The aliens, still, remain unrevealed, but arrival of their technology provide a moment of interstellar horror that seems like it will forever be imprinted in my mind. Also, I think Liu and GRRM would have a lot to talk about in their ability to leave their readers in despair.

The Dark Forest really surprised me. I’ve been wrestling with how to best tackle trilogies for a while. I have found myself enjoying many a first novel and then receiving diminishing returns with its sequels. So, I tried to space this one out from my reading of The Three-Body Problem in an effort to see if distance was the magical ingredient that would make it hit hard. But The Dark Forest taught me a lesson: it’s the quality of the sequel itself that makes it worth reading.

For SF fans, this is a must. I’m calling it now that this is a trilogy we’ll be talking about long-after its publication date. The Dark Forest does everything a sequel should: it moves the plot along, it builds on the world established in the first novel, and it tees up enough mysteries for the final installment. What makes it special is that it does all that it’s supposed to do and still provides a self-contained story that is smart, well-plotted, mind-bending, and never sacrifices character at the altar of ideas.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,303 reviews299 followers
March 8, 2023
Вселената, в която съществуваме като вид се оказва твърде мрачно място - направо същинска "тъмна гора", а "веригата на подозренията" направо мачка като концепция, макар и да обяснява елегантно и безсърдечно познатата ни теорема на Ферми…

"Тъмна гора" според мен е по-брутална от първата част на трилогията "Земното минало" - "Трите тела". Много съм доволен, че авторът успешно е преодолял "синдромът на втората книга от трилогия"!

Вариантите за реакция на извънземното нашествие варират от логични до откровено малоумни. И всичките си имат привърженици. При това не броим тези, които работят за унищожението на собствената си раса…

Но избор пред човечеството все пак има: да се бие, да избяга или да се скрие и да се моли в последствие на извънземните агресори за милост.

Двойките стеногледец - стенобоец ме очароваха като концепция и изпълнение!

По-трудно ми тръгна тази част от трилогията, но пък като се поотпуши текста, грандиозните идеи и събития в него направо ме отвяха. Чакам вече с нетърпение последната част, която надявам се, ще е епична!!!

Единствено за нелогично и абсурдно намерих авторовото решение да накара човечеството в един момент да постави всичките си яйца в един полог - това си е чиста глупост. Не, че не умееем да сме глупави де. :)


"В човешкия ум океанът и космосът отдавна са свързани."

"- Знаеш ли какъв е най-високият израз на уважение към една раса или цивилизация?
- Какъв?
- Пълното ѝ изтребление."

P.S. Отново безупречен превод на г-н Стефан Русинов, благодаря!
Profile Image for Frank Hidalgo-Gato Durán.
Author 10 books213 followers
May 8, 2021
Reseña 5: Está trilogía es una obra maestra, y eso me hace sentir orgulloso, porque sé, modestia aparte, que mi propia trilogía está a una altura muy cercana de una bien grande como esta. A mi obra solo le queda ser a un más descubierta....Bueno, Ahora vamos a por la tercera y final parte de esta gran trilogía. Continuamos.

Reseña 4: Bravo! Me he enamorado de esta trilogía.

Reseña 3: Esto es una locura! Esto es un tratado de genialidad y dominio de conceptos metafísicos , cosmológicos y matemáticos e ingeniería socio-humanista. Esta trilogía parece un proyecto de investigación socio- tecnológico. Me encanta! 👍

Reseña 2: Está trilogía se ha convertido en un challenge literario para mi vida actual! La literatura deber ser algo trascendental, algo que marque un antes y un después para el que la lea... Así que, allá vamos! Me siento muy orgulloso de mi propia trilogía! 🙌🏻

Reseña 1: Comenzamos con esta segunda parte. Grandes expectativas! Puntuamos al final 😊👍
Profile Image for Henk.
849 reviews
June 16, 2020
Thought provoking long-term scifi done well. I Liked the pacing and the execution much more in this second part of the trilogy - 4 stars
I feel The Dark Forest would be perfect as a Netflix series, like The Three-Body Problem it’s written very filmic, with big scenes in the UN, a kind of pristine Eden and space battles. Tides and fortunes rise and fall in a manner of a few pages repeatedly.

Admittedly, I still wondered how a Sophon the size of a proton could draw a pattern in someone’s retina (I mean there are billions of elementary particles in the retina) but I needed to suspend disbelief a lot less often then while reading it's predecessor.

The large number of Bible reference, from Eden, humanity as snake, to creating a fictional love from a rib of imagination, was interesting after the more Chinese orientated first installment

The whole response of the world to very large fact feels well done, on level with how Seveneves of Neal Stephenson handled this.
Liu Cixin depicts societal responses like escapism and that humanity could not make a selection of itself to live on in time of ultimate crisis, compellingly. That Luo Ji is chosen as Wallfacer by centrally led China did baffle me and is not further elaborated upon in a satisfactory manner, also the whole “imprinted” subplot felt a bit like a loose end. But Wallfacers, are an incredibly interesting concept, putting unlimited power in the hands of a few to beeline a fix to the crisis at hand. A modern pendant to the Roman dictators. The pressure on them (all men) is immense, especially because they can’t disclose their true plan to anyone and that all their actions are to be seen in the context of this unknown plan. Basically their plans of planetary defence boil down to:
- More powerful nuclear weapons and a kind of unbelievably eleborate hostage threat
- Biological augmentation of human intelligence (which in my opinion is by far the most promising of the Wallfacer ideas)
- A small mosquito swarm of kamikaze space fighters
- And creating a kind of Eden, finding a dream girl (very Haruki Murakami like) and casting a spell on a neighbouring star

The concept of UN hearings in respect to above plans kind of defeats the purpose of keeping ideas under tab in someone’s mind, but at least give the reader something to grapple with.
Admittedly, I feel The Dark Forest could have been shorter, but in my opinion it's still more smooth plus better thought and better fleshed out than it’s predecessor.
And real life space battles with a macroscopic object engineered using the strong nuclear force to be indestructible: really the big ideas and cool scenes are still plenty available in this book.

The response of Earth's ships on a long term interstellar journey was bleak, but realistically depicted, as is the central plot point of A Dark Forest, a quite brutal explanation to the Fermi paradox.

Looking forward to picking up Death's End!
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