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Remembrance of Earth's Past #1-3

Remembrance of Earth's Past: The Three-Body Trilogy

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This discounted ebundle includes: The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death’s End

"Wildly imaginative, really interesting." —President Barack Obama

The Three-Body trilogy by New York Times bestseller Cixin Liu keeps you riveted with high-octane action, political intrigue, and unexpected twists in this saga of first contact with the extraterrestrial Trisolaris.


The Three-Body Problem — An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.

The Dark Forest — In The Dark Forest, the aliens' human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information remains. Humanity responds with 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.

Death’s End — Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?

Other Books by Cixin Liu (Translated to English)

The Remembrance of Earth's Past
The Three-Body Problem
The Dark Forest
Death's End

Other Books
Ball Lightning

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

1545 pages, Kindle Edition

Published March 14, 2017

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About the author

Liu Cixin

161 books10.6k followers
Science Fiction fan and writer.

Liu Cixin also appears as Cixin Liu

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 225 reviews
Profile Image for Erik Johnson.
2 reviews1 follower
July 16, 2017
"Remembrance of Earth's Past" is a serious contender for the greatest science fiction trilogy yet written. Astonishingly creative, daringly ambitious, staggering in scope and scale, it dwarfs the most grandiose visions of any space epic ever conceived. And yet, it is as personal and intimate as a lover's journal; tragic, deeply philosophical, poetic and cruelly beautiful. Strikingly original in plot and execution, full of mind-blowing twists, it demonstrates that there is still artistry in the world. If you are young, I would highly recommend NOT reading this trilogy yet, as it will ruin you for anything else. If I never read any science fiction again, I will nevertheless feel complete.
Profile Image for Raed.
226 reviews52 followers
April 28, 2022
How the hell do you even review a Trilogy like this !
description

This is my second reading of this Trilogy and It's mind-bogglingly mind-blowing!​
Seriously I don't know how to comment on Remembrance of Earth's Past, Because now I can see every detail and every little event.

Ye Wenjie, Mike Evans, Ding Yi, Frederick Tyler, Zhang Beihai, Bill Hines, Luo Ji, Da Shi, Thomas Wade …
Red Coast Base, the Earth-Trisolaris Organization, the Wallfacer Project, the Staircase Program, the Swordholders, the Bunker Project …



The first time I read The Three-Body Problem in 7 days, The Dark Forest in 9 days, Death's End in 13 days. And it was a mistakes.

Now i raed The Three-Body Problem in 5 weeks, The Dark Forest in 4 weeks, Death's End in 4 weeks .

While reading, I took hundreds of notes (more than 50 pages), I will summarize them and i will finish my review..



Zhang Beihai, Luo Ji, Da Shi, Thomas Wade
7 reviews13 followers
July 7, 2018
What is there to say? There are no words I could etch into stone that would do the contents of this trilogy justice. This is one of those tales that transcends itself and stays with you through life, dyed in every decision and a silent companion in all stages of the remainder of your journey through space and time.

I just hope that you too borrow a little time to go on this detour and that one day fate brings our paths together again.
Profile Image for Daniel Zsombor.
5 reviews1 follower
November 27, 2020
The story excels with some of its grander ideas and especially in its take on the Fermi Paradox. I would recommend reading it just because of this single thing, which honestly carries the whole trilogy by itself and makes it a worthwhile read. Unfortunately, the books do not excel in other areas and in some aspects, they are downright bigoted and insulting. Overall the trilogy is an extremely mixed bag. This is a spoiler review.
P.S: Liu Cixin supports the Chinese Government’s genocide of Uyghurs so if you want to read these books, I would highly recommend buying them second hand as to not support the author financially.
Spoiler ahead
The ideas:
There are some truly terrifying ideas that are communicated very well, despite being highly theoretical in some cases. Humans find out that the galaxy is brimming with all of who want to exterminate each other, as every other civilisation is seen as an existential threat. An alien civilisation invades Earth but humanity sends out a signal into space that shows their location, leading to the destruction of both the alien star system and The Solar System. This book can be truly terrifying in its implications. Another great idea is the exploration of other dimensions, and how through constant warfare between civilisations, the galaxy is actually dying as it collapses into smaller dimensions (from 10 dimensions all the way down to 2 and eventually to 0). This is such a mind-boggling concept that seems perfectly reasonable when reading the book because of Liu’s expert handling of these abstract concepts. Some other interesting ideas that only pop up in the last segment of the final book include the modification of laws of nature for warfare and the existence of separate dimensions as well as time travel through the warping of space. Unfortunately, we don’t get to explore these ideas as the trilogy comes to an end rather quickly after their brief introduction.
While these ideas are all great, they rely on some principles that Liu takes for granted and are not questioned in his book the slightest. This made it initially difficult to really get into the story, hurting the suspension of disbelief and ruining my enjoyment for the first book. What I am talking about is the assumption that all life in the universe ‘progresses’ in the same way, and this is all because science and technology is deterministic and linear. Liu operates with the assumption that intelligent beings will progress through technologies inevitably, starting with sticks and stones and ending with lightspeed spacecrafts. This is a common trope in science fiction, but with such hard sci-fi and serious engagement with abstract ideas, this was a serious issue for me to take the story seriously. This is not something which will bother most people.
The prose:
This is difficult to comment on as I have not read the book in its original language, so something is inevitably lost in translation. With that being said, the prose is also a mixed bag in this book. There are some truly beautiful descriptions of landscapes and some vivid metaphors. However, character dialogue can be very lifeless, showing that Liu does not care much for his characters. I will elaborate on this point further in a later section. The beautiful descriptions can be very jarring sometimes, as they are used to describe terrible violence not only in great detail but also in a language that attempts to make it a sight of beauty. I was grossed out after a five-page description of a million people dying horribly in a space bottle, their blood forming a red dragon or something. This occurs many times when characters meet alien artefacts and inevitably get annihilated in graphic detail.
The pacing:
The book is full of side-plots and jumping from one time to another and from one character to another. It can be sometimes difficult to follow but overall, it is not a big problem. There are some really intriguing shifts of perspective. Two of my favourites happen in the final book. One recounts a fairy tale in three long chapters which I thought was one of the best writing in all three books. The tale hides information through clever double and triple encryption and it feels really satisfying when the characters solve these mysteries. The fairy tale is also very good in its own right, I can imagine it being an actual fairy tale. Another great perspective shift happens when we follow an alien who casually sends a weapon to destroy the solar system, and we realise that the alien is just some low-level worker in a complicated bureaucratic machine, not some maniacal evil overlord. Unfortunately, not all side-plots are created equal. There are some very useless side plots which do not advance the story forward but take up so many pages. This is especially the case in the second book where we follow a character who is proclaimed to be the most loyal military person. At the end of his story it is revealed very predictably that he was the opposite and betrays the military. For a moment it seems like this storyline is going somewhere but then he promptly dies. Overall, his story could have been cut entirely spanning multiple chapters and not affect the overall plot. There are multiple less egregious examples of this, following random characters who usually just end up dying and not really accomplishing anything.
The world-building:
This is yet another mixed bag. This is mainly applicable to the second and third books in the series as the first one takes place almost entirely in the past and the present. There are some great futuristic technologies that seem very plausible and make sense in light of the events that take place within the book. Some of my favourite examples are the underground cities of the future where humans are surrounded by smart technology and screens that can appear on any flat surface. In the third book Liu introduces floating orbs in space that function as cities, and all of them quite different from each other. It was really intriguing to read about that. However, the worldbuilding falters as it seems incapable of imagining future trajectories different from the present in terms of politics. In the second book we find out that after two hundred years the nations on Earth barely changed, and the explanation given for this is that the space force became the new de facto leaders of the world, making nations obsolete. If that was the case you would imagine new ways of organising humanity would appear but Liu does not seem concerned about that. After the space force is all but destroyed, we do not even get a power struggle but the flimsy explanation that the UN gained even more authority. This seemed entirely ridiculous. Humanity is pretty much treated almost as a giant hivemind, everyone thinking the same way. Everyone in the world presumably speaks the same language even, and other civilisations are confirmed to have only a single langue as well at the end of the book. Liu often describes the feelings that everyone in the world have at a certain time period, as well as governments (who are now supposed to be obsolete but still exist for some reason) reaching unanimous decisions. Liu seems not so interested in individuals but rather humanity as a whole and mob mentality, but this does break immersion often.
The characters:
So, this is the big one. Every previous complaint could be brushed aside if the characters were engaging, complex and multi-dimensional. But that is not the case. Despite Liu making his universe 10 dimensional, his characters are only given two at best. Honestly, I have few positive things to say about characters in the entire series. In the first book Da Shi is the only likeable character, maybe because he is the only one who is not a socially dysfunctional stuck up scientist. He is also the only character who is remotely funny, or does not take himself 100% seriously. Unfortunately, in the second book he loses most of his charm, mostly losing his edge that made him so memorable in the first book. There are two main characters in the second book Ye Wenjie and Wang Miao. Ye Wenjie is reasonably well written and you mostly understand her motivations. However, her character suffers from flashback syndrome, sacrificing a coherent storyline, in favour of big reveals in the story, making her character arc in the story very fragmented and significantly less engaging than it could have been. The other main character is utterly forgettable, which even the author realised, not bringing him up again after the first book. The second book has a single protagonist Luo Ji. He is quite a complex character with a pretty decent story arc. He is quite unlikeable in the first half of the book but eventually I felt compelled to sympathise with by the end of the book. Unfortunately, none of the side characters in the second book stand out and I did not care what happened to the at all. Luo Ji returns in the third book as a sort of old mentor figure, which was fine but not particularly interesting. The third book follows Cheng Xin, whose character is subjected to many horrible things. I dedicated an entire section to her and the rampant misogyny that is present in these books which I will address later. Overall, most of the characters feel like the same person, interacting with each other through wooden dialogue. They do not have much depth and are entirely forgettable, usually dying without any emotional reaction from the reader at all. Most of the point of view characters we follow are scientist, usually men, who think rationally and accept death with grace. There is not much outward showcase of emotion, people talking calmy with each other in the face of imminent death. The panic and irrationality is reserved for the nameless masses, which comes across as weirdly elitist and derogatory. In the first book there is a meeting where some rebel humans try to help the aliens invade Earth. They explicitly say that they only accept scientists and other elites into their rank as common people are too stupid. Even though they are meant to be the villains in the story I cannot help but think that they reflect Liu’s thinking based on the story that follows.
Depiction of society:
The same problems plague Liu’s depiction of society as his depiction of characters. There is an utter lack of ambiguity and complexity in how society is organised. This is perplexing as Liu seems very interested in how humans re-organise society in the face of cataclysmic events. One great example where he pulls this off is when rogue spaceships try to escape from the Earth, and they realise that they cannot go back ever again. Captains on various ships realise that their only chance of survival is to kill everyone aboard the other ships and take their resources needed for survival in space. This was a truly haunting and very memorable episode in the second book. However, for every great example there are many terrible ones. The re-organisation of society on the ship only worked because it was small scale, only involving the decision making from a few individuals. Liu tries to recreate the same on a world scale that simply does not work. Two hundred years in the future there is perfect democracy and everyone lives a leisurely life and there is no social inequality, and people had become soft and optimistic. All this, Liu explains with humanity’s belief that they are technologically advanced enough to defeat the invading alien civilisation. This is so ridiculous, saying that the world would turn into a utopia just because people are optimistic about technological development. This stems from Liu’s belief that technology is the ultimate driving force of civilisation and it shown in this example how ridiculous that is.
The Treatment of Women:
These books are extremely misogynistic. The treatment of female characters ruined my reading experience multiple times throughout the series. It is not only women who are treated badly, one autistic scientist described as being horribly deceased and he dies a terrible death sucked in by a black hole. He is also not seen as a ‘real’ man because he never had sex with a woman. The main characters who are women doom humanity to die, starting with Ye Wenjie inviting the aliens to invade Earth and continuing with Cheng Xin who causes humanity to eventually die. Both can be seen as the biblical character Eve, Ye Wenjie taking the forbidden fruit of knowledge, the knowledge that other civilisations exist in the universe and expelling humanity from the garden of Eden. In the third book this symbolism is even more explicit, the random scientists and Cheng Xin becoming Adam and Eve, the sole couple left of humanity, living in a paradise, but again leaving it at Eve’s behest. It is up to the heroic male characters to act as damage control, prolonging humanity’s survival through ingenuity. They are ultimately powerless however at the destructive force that are women, who are incapable of having agency and making tough decisions and when they do, it literally kills all of humanity. Wow, I have never read something so misogynistic in my entire life.
Profile Image for Canon.
579 reviews47 followers
July 16, 2022
An excellent boxed set of one of my all-time favorite science fiction stories that sits alongside my Library of America boxed sets of Philip K. Dick's novels and Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Novels.
Profile Image for Miles.
459 reviews150 followers
May 12, 2018
Cixin’s Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past is a perfect and peerless narrative achievement. Not only is it the best piece of science fiction I’ve ever read, but it would also be a strong contender for my favorite story of all time. I think that giving away any major plot points or world-building features would do a disservice to anyone who might read the trilogy (which everyone should), so for this review I’ll stick to commenting only on its broad thematic implications.

I do not think it’s hyperbolic to assert that Remembrance constitutes an apotheosis in humanity’s long journey toward unlocking the scientific worldview’s vast aesthetic potential. Since storytelling has been around much longer than modern physics, we’ve had lots of time to explore the aesthetics of unscientific thinking, and spent comparatively little time applying those aesthetics to contemporary discoveries about the workings of the natural world. Every great piece of science fiction has contributed to or at least gestured toward this project, but Remembrance is in a class all its own. Somehow, Liu seems to have soaked up all the lessons from the history of this nascent genre, channeling them into a seamless blend of humanity’s ancient narrative fundamentals and the most terrifying truths of empirical reality.

Liu possesses a powerful literary voice that syncs beautifully with his deep understanding of science. These books are packed with poignant, deft descriptions of scientific phenomena and human psychology. The story often flirts with becoming overly-abstruse, but time and again Liu rolls out poetic summaries of whatever theoretical or technical ideas he is exploring, rendering them both intellectually accessible and emotionally impactful. The imaginative breadth and linguistic mastery on display here seem entirely beyond the capacity of a single writer. This is even more impressive given that the English versions of these books have all been translated from the original Chinese.

Remarkably, Liu proves capable of generating thematic and emotional continuity while flouting many aspects of traditional character development. Since the master story arc spans a mind-boggling amount of time and a huge cast of characters, it would be easy for readers to become unmoored had Liu not managed to artfully weave so many expansive ideas and personalized moments together throughout the trilogy’s 1,500+ pagecount. I’m not sure how Liu accomplished this, but can attest that the characters in Remembrance felt as flesh and blood to me as any I’ve encountered in other books.

Remembrance confronts the difficult relationship between time and survival in a way that feels both familiar and entirely innovative. It is an ironclad law of nature that every living system must organize itself to stave off the onslaught of entropy. Doing so buys the time to perpetuate the circumstances necessary for survival. In a best case scenario, perpetuation develops into proliferation and survival blossoms into flourishing, but the bedrock physical dynamics remain the same; each little victory, no matter how sweet, remains suffused with the promise of inexorable defeat.

At the human level, valuations of life and love can begin to feel insignificant when matched up against the epic insouciance of the cosmos, but the characters in Remembrance reveal an existential attitude that is neither shamefully denialist nor naively romantic. Gritty acceptance carries the day, combined with healthy doses of courageous problem-solving and raw determination. And through it all, Liu never loses sight of the fact that, even when faced with ultimate failure, the physical structure of the universe is the most magnificent piece of art humanity could hope to encounter. To understand oneself as part of that supreme architecture––even as a mere “mote of dust in a grand wind” (loc. 25353)––is to bear witness to the truth of beauty and the beauty of truth.

This review was originally published on my blog, words&dirt.
Profile Image for Yifei Li.
1 review
March 9, 2021
Great trilogy. Mind-blowing and life-changing! And IMO 3>2>1 so if you feel book 1 is so-so, please at least give book 2 a try!

Lots of people complain about the lack of characters' development and that's true, but personally, I don't think it weakens my reading experience. Liu's writing style focuses on the big picture: tech-socioeconomic development and epic chronicles. While everyone has different tastes, I really don't think we should stick to just one paradigm. Just like nobody would complain about the eccentricity of Ulysses as long as we're impressed by the work.

BTW just wanna tell the people who read Chinese literature the first time: Liu's writing style is also controversial in China, but hate it or not, please don't misunderstand it as the general Chinese literature style. There are as many genres in China as in the west.
Profile Image for Will White.
47 reviews3 followers
January 26, 2019
This is the kind of book series that changes you. You can't be the same after you finish reading it.

The author (and translator) did a great job of weaving extremely complex scientific ideas into the fabric of the plot. The writing was magical, and there were many unforgettable episodes. I'm not a big science fiction guy, but man, this book walloped me.

Power through the slow parts of the trilogy; the overall effect is totally worth it, and all the challenging stuff has major payoffs down the road.
Profile Image for YJ Carla.
72 reviews2 followers
May 4, 2018
Staggering scale, both in time and space, yet a deeply intimate and personal story of three main characters who bore witness to earth’s history. How the different threads of the book (especially the fairy tales in book 3) tie together thrills me at every knot.

Wasn’t impressed by the second book’s translation, but the lyrical quality of Ken Liu’s translation of the first and third book transcends the Chinese original.
Profile Image for Simon Creary.
45 reviews
August 29, 2017
Mind-blowing in scope; human and accessible in tone, pace (rather quick, but manageable), and overall writing. I highly highly recommend this trilogy hailing from a Chinese master of science-fiction.
Myself, discovered this gem after consulting a former-President Barack Obama reading list of 2016.. he also seemed to have liked it.
Enjoy!
S.
Profile Image for Mark.
20 reviews1 follower
July 17, 2018
This is one of the best SciFi series that I've read. The story kept unfolding throughout the novels and kept me interested the whole way. Yes, there were some dry sections, but this is hard sci-fi and provided useful info. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Hunnapuh Xbal.
Author 4 books28 followers
June 9, 2020
He tenido poco contacto con la literatura china, ha sido una literal desconocida para mi, sobre todo en los apartados de Ciencia Ficción, ya no se diga en la literatura clásica de este pais-continente.
Es bastante curioso que entre más se acerca uno a China, más se da cuenta de que no es una cultura diferente a la nuestra, es casi una civilización diferente a la nuestra, tienen una riqueza histórica, cultural y artística tan inconmesurable como su nación.
Del autor, Liu Cixin, me di cuenta que existía cuando vi la película de Netflix «La tierra errante (The wandered Earth)», una super producción China que fue todo un éxito comercial, ahí supe de que era basada en una novela de Liu Cixin, pero hasta ahí llegó mi curiosidad.
Hace poco mi primo me comenttaba de un libro que había leído y que le parecía buenísimo, se titula «El Problema de los tres cuerpos» y es una trilogía que recién finalizó Liu Cixin, así que buscando el primer libro, me encontré con la trilogía completa y la compré ya que estaba a un precio excelente y tenía además un buen descuento en su versión Kindle, y me salió mucho más barato el paquete de los tres libros virtuales, que cualquier otra modalidad.
Esta reseña la voy a ir alimentando poco a poco con cada tomo e inicio con la primera que es el problema de los tres cuerpos.

El problema de los tres cuerpos – Liu Cixin – 2006

Es la primera novela de la saga y ganadora de varios premios chinos y ganó el premio Hugo cuando se tradujo al Inglés en el 2014.
Trata sobre una puesta en la práctica del famoso y viejo «Problema de los tres cuerpos» que se supone que surge a raíz de los estudios de Charles-Eugène Delaunay quien analizó y teorizó entre 1860 y 1867 sobre el comportamiento del Sol, la Tierra y la Luna al interactuar orbitalmente sus respectivas masas, gravedades y movimientos, lo que en suma es una aproximación bastante exacta al problema y que se convirtió en un tema de estudio para físiscos y matemáticos que dio como resultados, avances en los temas de teorías del caos. como bien lo expresa uno de sus estudiosos más dedicados:

El azar no es más que la medida de la ignorancia del hombre, reconociendo, a la vez, la existencia de innumerables fenómenos que no eran completamente aleatorios, que simplemente no respondían a una dinámica lineal, aquellos a los que pequeños cambios en las condiciones iniciales conducían a enormes cambios en el resultado.
Henri Poincaré


Con esto como contexto, entremos en la novela: OJO ALERTA DE SPOILER



La novela por momentos hace giños a Isaac Asimov, a Ray Bradury le toma prestado el poético y casi mítico lenguaje y la grandilocuencia parece que es de Tolstoi, pero eso sería pensando que esa sea la literatura que Cixin haya leído como influencias, porque desconozco realmente la literatura china y no dudo que tengan sus propios referentes literarios de igual o mejor nivel que los mencionados.

Ya comencé la segunda novela y veremos que pasa. por el momento 5 estrellas.

El Bosque Oscuro – Liu Cixin – 2008

Leer la primera parte de la trilogía, que no se llama "El problema de los tres cuerpos" sino "El recuerdo del pasado de la Tierra", tomar la segunda fue muy fácil, porque en donde quedó resulta apremiante ver como se desarrollan los hechos.
La novela comienza con una extraña y medio aburrida introducción que tiene que ver con hormigas, cementerios y gente platicando, pero que resulta ser indispensable porque da las claves para el resto de la saga.
Por ratos se pone como novelón romántico, por ratos rebosa poesía, Asimov siempre está presente, pero también se advierte algo de Frank Herbert, porque creo que Cixin bebió de estas fuentes en algún momento.
Leyendo otras reseñas, veo que critican el excesivo detalle personajes, situaciones o tecnología, pero es que al final es literatura y quienes están acostumbrados a las trepidantes novelitas adolescentes post apocalípticas, si lo encontrarán endemoniadamente aburrido, pero esta categoría de lectores niños no menoscaba la calidad de la novela, por más que la critiquen y se ve en la enorme popularidad que tiene al grado de que políticos muy influyentes la han aclamado.
Malditos chinos, todo lo que hacen lo hacen bien, fue lo que exclamé al terminar la primera y lo mantengo con esta segunda entrega.



Es de hacer notar que, así como la primera novela nos cuenta mucho de ese oscuro período de China llamado "La Revolución Cultural" en esta se advierte un fuerte conocimiento de la geopolítica mundial y de la sociología de las masas, sobre todo con los cambios en las percepciones de la masa conforme el tiempo arroja luces y sombras sobre determinado personaje o hecho.
Los héroes de ayer pasan a villanos hoy, para ser reivindicados mañana en un ciclo interminable que se mueve según la idiosincrasia de la masa navega en el tiempo.
Leerse la tercera parte, será mucho más apremiante, ya me volvió adicto la historia.
Profile Image for Alice.
27 reviews7 followers
July 8, 2019
it took me almost two years to finish this book, but it was worth it. cons: dense technical sections and a dizzying array of characters, making it hard to pick it back up after stepping away for a bit. pros: incredibly imaginative, staggering sci-fi, “like a dark mirror held to humanity,” as one review wrote. i felt my brain expanding in a way that it hasn’t for a while.
2 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2018
First book is great, second book is good, third book is amazing!
2 reviews
December 30, 2020
I didn’t read sci-fi for ages. It used to be my favourite genre, still remember my childhood years sitting in the tiny primary school library. Haunted by the vision of getting into one good middle school, I might permit myself sometimes some freedom by immersing into a totally exotic and alien world. I hunted for the newest “sci-fi world” magazine in thirst. Now I found out Liu is one of the famous writers for that magazine I read then. I probably have come across his short novels along with many other excellent writers 8 years ago… ok, this past made this book bring some sentimental and nostalgic tang.
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First- sentimentally, reading the novel felt like standing by one cliff. You are staring at the bottomless abyss of darkness. You stared, you felt cold. You were terrified.
I had similar feelings when reading the Arcadia-standing alone at the coastline of wildness. the shortish life and the flaming death.
I recalled reading Manfred. When Manfred summoned the spirits of Alpes and asked for “self-oblivion” The spirit replied: “we are immortal, and do not forget. We are eternal, and to us the past is as the future, present.”
He replied: “will death bestow it on me?”
Manfred is not a sci-fi, maybe these spirits are suspected of higher dimensional creatures I know not. But the philosophical essence might be alike: we mortals, doomed to be die, yet know not the future nor when the tickling ends, is always staring at that cliff.
But is it just about personal life and death?
Why is the darkness terrifying? Because it does not only engulf you, it engulfs your grave and your epitaph and everyone who might read your epitaph. The whole human species is falling-once from its birth to its inevitable death. Revolutions and reforms are like swimmers in the river- the direction will never be changed- every fest has its end.

So after finished, I recited Manfred’s lines for a dozen of times. Is not the unpredictability and one-directional movement that made the being feel it exist? (Ok that’s too meta-physical) Give life to the time.

Good point: I love his writing style. The colors are striking and vivid. The analogy and metaphors are pretty apt. I was frequently impressed by the grandiosity he deciphered in the most common trivialities (when he likens the struggling ants with human beings), and the approachability in the most spectacular scenes (the simile between the space ship and the ancient cliffs with human caves). It is hard to imagine how he made those unexplainable chains between two wholly different concepts and aroused the universal sensation of sublimity. As an aestheticist and escapist who seek literature as my heavenly refuge, I would give him 5-star simply for that.

I also love how he employed politics and sociology to model the human society and this cosmic “clashing of civilizations”. They appear to me like an IR realism model with divisions much more deeply carved. The dark forest theory and the deterrence part is amazing. It’s like a chronology of real history. He even pointed out the Zeitgest changes according to the “interstellar relations”. The hard scientific part which I can only 70% understand (I AM a physics lover and I may understand more if I made that attempt… But I just want to see how the story develops and I confess I didn’t comprehend them very well). But I can tell it is hard scientific and fairly sound based.

The characters are also impressive. I actually discussed that with my friend Carol. I personally presume they are metaphorical archetypes rather than real human beings. Liu personally agreed that they are “tools”. You could tell from their Chinese Name: Luo Ji stand for Logic, Cheng Xin stand for kind heart and humane virtue. Zhuang Yan to Luo is like a conceptualization and culmination of human love: which is unreasonable, religious, artificial, and even fake (there are suspects that Zhuang was hired by UN to be his Muse and Eros). Liu is implying this when some officer said “love is a concept” to Luo Ji. He uses Goethe’s saying that “I love you and it has nothing to do with you”. I also doubted Luo’s love is narcissistic by its essence. He created this apostle of femininity as a refuge for his emotional turbulence. He extended his love to the physical matters like Red Wine, the Fireplace, the Eden-like utopia, even that mythological picture. When he said “I could have accompanied you more” before his death, with teary eyes, he said this to Mona Lisa- not to Zhuang. Liu has made it explicit: Zhuang’s melancholy was not a given female character, but ironically caused by Luo and the mission she carried (I almost felt the pleasure of retaliation when he knew the truth that she was sent on purpose). She left him and was long lost in the history. He is saying to the picture, to every surrounding matter that aroused his nostalgic and sweet sensation, and indirectly-to himself. This figure stands for a woven dream, but for which humans could willingly sacrifice and crucify themselves, making the most playful chevalier one martyr. Sorry I write this part beyond the length, cuz I have similar wooden cottage in my mind. I have similar lover sat by the fireplace, Like Milton said “Came vested all in white, pure as her mind”. Thus I can resonate with this poetic symptom, and of course, absolute human absurdity!

Apart from the religious conceptualization of Love, I also feel there is the relationship between Zhuang and Luo realizes the utopian pursuit of human being- a non-language communication and unity. It is philosophical here- the humans’ limits of perception is constrained by language. The more we tried to accurately portray the world or communicate, the more we ended up producing rough distorted outlines. With such a fluid tool, we can never understand each other nor can we understand the universal laws. But what is interesting here is that Zhuang and Luo achieve this non-linguistic communication. Their hearts were echoed by almost supernatural force, their thoughts were delivered through expression in the eyes. Sorry, Don Juan, but it is exactly what Don Juan did after he met Haidee. They don’t know each other’s language; they are living in one barbarian island far from any civilizations. Their love is unconditional. Therefore, we can see this paradox in the relationship: on the one hand, it is purely absurd, self-centric, narcissistic, and all about concepts. On the other hand, it is free of language and social convention, abandoning any tools of communication, that is real inter-personal and Romantic (with Capital R)

I guess Cheng Xin’s role is the reflection of both human virtue and hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is not the opposite to humanity, for the latter is fundamentally unrooted and eerily vulnerable to paradoxical moral choices. She can represent most leaders- for the causes of her failure are the same of the failure of most leaderships. The informational asymmetry (she barely knew the dimensional attack), the irrational idolization her followers that she couldn’t stop and eventually tying her mind on to the blind wheel , the conscience when she was supposed to execute cruelty (Machiavelli is giggling), and her self-righteous narcissism. Whether virtue is selfishness needed longer philosophical debate. But we can see clearly which side Liu is taking. He mentioned many times how Cheng found herself the centre of universe with all stars rotating around her; how she was tempted by her image of being the sword keeper. Liu has made the judgement that her pursuit of virtue and humanity is partially narcissistic. This is not an issue in a peaceful society as we judge people not by motivation but by consequence. Her achievement would be praised, if not in the time of revolution and a crisis more serious than a thousand revolutions. Do we need raison d’ Etat? Do we need to be as cunning as a fox and as cruel as a lion? Pragmatically, Liu took the classic realism side: this unreflective unreserved quest for virtue is fatal. Believe me or not, she reminds me of Robespierre. Of course, the latter is more tragic and culpable than her. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Lastly, the patriarchal part. Gosh, I’m not a PC gal. I’m not saying Liu is a sexist, evidently he is not and sexist is too reductionism. What interests me is to read against the grain, to read according to the text and identify the gender entrenchment from the semantics and symbols. So, to begin with, I understand this book is serialized in the newspaper, targeted at a minor group of readers, who might be dominantly male. The author needs some spices to hook his audience as well (every author does!) That explains why some characters are very comedian and some are modelled out of cliches. Females were all slimy and so on. But there are still two critiques I would like to make.

First one is extracted from the discussion between Carol and me. If Zhuang, this sorrowful tender female, is intended as a metaphoric epitome of femininity, it will be of great literary value and nothing more to be said. The problem is that there should be a distance between the archetype and the realistic person. What counts as an archetype? The first character that came to my mind is Don Juan’s Haidee. She came to Don Juan like a fairy of childish purity and female charisma. As it happened after shipwreck in one uncivilized island, it is easy to see the underlying ironies and metaphorical meanings. The author of Don Juan successfully isolated Haidee in the ocean of metaphors, shrouded his idealized womanhood in the mythology of literature and philosophy. However, Carol is correct to point out that the same distance is lacked in Liu’s work. Zhuang is too true-to-life in fulfilling the popular image from the patriarchal perspective. The author did make some reflections, which are not adequate to let his readers realize the absurdity and artificiality of this character.

Another critique is less political but literary- some characters’ behaviors are not justified. It appears to me that each character is the embodiment of their idea and faith without hesitance or inner conflicts. The flatness of protagonists might be necessary in such a historical chronology and epic novel. But certainly, some characters are less humane than others. I could sense the artificial brush stroke in their reaction and how they are serving the plot.

It is, I agree, illegitimate to purpose corrections from political and moral view. For aesthetics is moral-free. However, if writers want to do the job of the god- if they want to create something, they should not stoop to the prevailing social discourses that are produced by the current transient and unjust power hierarchy. These discourses are not self-conscious language- they are cants. Doctor Johnson mentioned this point that when you say “I feel sorry about the weather” you do not really feel pity- it is not a meaningful sentence but a posture to show your compliance with the social manner- language is formatted and degenerated into futile devices. You give up thinking and creating and accuracy. You are repeating those cants that are circulating by the authorities and subjects to the power structure. That might be the daily routine of a citizen but should never be the job of an author. What if, just imagine , as our only telescope to perceive the world, lost all its vitality? Liu depicts the ladies in one stereotype way, the fatherhood, militaristic familial patriarchy is frequently mentioned. I spotted no distance nor irony nor reflection in these portrayals- the author invited the readers to identify with the text rather than observing or doubting the phenomenon. Anyway, it might look like a tangent but I feel it’s necessary. To conclude: when the writer uses language to reinforce the given power hierarchy and dominant discourse subconsciously or consciously, their creativity is in danger. They yield their freedom of thinking and reflection to the repetitive cants. They are becoming one radio passively incepting the white noise of their age.

Cliches and sentimentality are two primary characters of poets, which shall be forgiven. Profit is legitimately to pursue. There is nothing wrong to entertain your readers using the most fashionable wits and jokes. The poem, according to Virginia Woolf, is actually a bargain between the poet and the time she lives in. But bear in mind the power of the language. Some cliches are more dangerous than others as they are confirming the power structure, which implicates realistic oppression. Burke is right: “Human mischiefs derive from words”. A writer, an orator, a politician, any media workers, possessing both the maneuvering talents and publicity, should always be cautious not abusing the power of words.

(omg I feel I’m speaking on behalf of Byron’s ghost)

Overall, I will give a 5 out of 5 rate. Highly recommend. This book is beyond my expectation (which is already quite high before reading) and worth every reputation.


Profile Image for Iziur.
31 reviews1 follower
January 4, 2022
Rushed and with some character issues but still brilliant

I would say out of the three, this installment seems the most unstable. Some parts seemed rushed (especially the last portion where it seems the author had several ideas that would have comfortably given the reader a fourth book), others I could have read and reread as the story takes its time to be deliciously enjoyed. Some characters flowed from worn-out clichés to interesting rounded personalities.

Still, as part of the trilogy and the end of it, it remains brilliant.
Profile Image for James Chong.
6 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2020
The Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy is the deepest and most mind-blowing science fiction I have ever had the good fortune to read. This is “hard” science fiction at its finest and most human - I honestly don’t know how this can be topped, from the multitude of ideas and imagination spread across 3 books and the sheer amount of breadth.

Cixin Liu has done for science fiction what Tolkien did for fantasy with the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit put together.

It’s difficult for me to consider how a person could have amassed such an understanding of science and psychics, and then glued them all together with imagination and in layperson terms (as much as it can be) so well. Everything is believable and possible, from dimensional folding and collapsing to gravitational waves transmission and light speed curvature propulsion. It’s like a peek into everything we did not know and are yet to know, and the immensity of the things we do not know now but possibly could in the far future rightfully parallels the universe.

This makes the Matrix come across like cave drawings or at best a pre-school picture book by comparison. I believe even Arthur C. Clarke and Carl Sagan would be amazed if they read this. It stretches the mind in a way I can’t put into words, to see how microscopic at the sub-atomic level we are in the sheer scale of time and space, with the closest philosophical in a nutshell parallel being Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, magnified multiple fold.

This series is essential reading for every fan and follower of science, history and humanities, and if one day, our civilisations and planet do get destroyed and we discover that we are far from alone in the universe, then these three books would serve well indeed as a fictionalised historical document on the human race.

This is the work of true, unadulterated genius. It is one of the best science fiction series of all time, if not the best. I’m so glad it was translated.
35 reviews
February 2, 2020
That’s it?

This is my review for all three books; It’s been a long time since I’ve had such mixed feelings on a book(s).

First the good stuff; Descriptions of places and people are for lack of better words, “lavish.” Characters and their feelings are deeply explored and they themselves have a huge sense of complexity and depth. They evolve and change and it’s great that way.

The bad; pacing is terrible. Maybe a spoiler of sorts so don’t read more- for a series of books that span “all” of humanity’s timeline so very little happens. Or what happens is a burst of really important epic moments and then a lot of “quiet contemplation” for those involved. Book 1 had 2 key events, book 2, had 2 and book three had 1 and then and ending, of sorts.

So I’m torn by the fact I read them and am glad I read them, but I am not an active proponent for reading this, at least not to general audiences. I say read it is you like “hard science” depictions of time/space and philosophical ruminatings on what is time and space. I say avoid if you like space opera or sweeping stories, and books filled with action.
1 review1 follower
January 18, 2021
Interesting ideas, far too long, boring/two-dimensional characters that you don't really care about, and no real ending. The Sci-Fi was good, but scattered and not often built upon. It might be cultural, but the politics and society aspects seemed like caricatures; there wasn't really a likeable character in the books, their motivations often seemed to be pure plot points. I particularly disliked the portrayal of main one in the 3rd book. Oh, and it's a slog to get through as the author seems to just like exposition over story; far too much 'tell' and not enough 'show'.

5 *s for ideas, 1* for execution.
Profile Image for Matt Herman.
95 reviews3 followers
October 17, 2020
Liu Cixin has made some pretty deplorable comments regarding the treatment of the Uyghurs in China recently. For this reason, I would not want to support him any further as an author and hope that this review can act to discourage others from supporting the author.

Also, knowing this, there is no reason to give Cixin the benefit of the doubt regarding sexism in his writing. I had thought it was more about his awkwardness with writing about general human interactions, but now I think it's safe to assume that it was misogyny.
3 reviews
May 12, 2020
Read the original version of this trilogy twice. The first time was when I was ~25 y/o. I was shocked by the concept. The second time is right before the quarantine. This time I was impressed by the detailed description in the story. The complicated personalities of the characters are fantastic. Shi Qiang is my favorite character.
39 reviews
August 12, 2019
I've never read anything this imaginative. Cixin Liu takes a unique approach to the idea of scale and Earth's place in the universe. At times it feels a little too detailed and slightly slow, but pay attention and keep reading!
Profile Image for Chris Cheatham.
79 reviews
July 10, 2018
One of the greatest trilogies and sci fi books I have ever read. Insane. I never ever got bored.
Profile Image for Dana.
35 reviews
July 30, 2021
看第一本时几次看不下去。怎么说呢,这显然是个理工男讲的故事,真是太平实了。幸好忍住无聊看到了第二部,越往后越精彩,感受到绚烂的宇宙在眼前打开,想象力随着故事也如智子般展开了。作者的文笔和对人物的刻画在这三部中持续进步,第三部中嵌入的小故事尤其可爱。没想明白的是:三体为什么不先占了地球再说。
Profile Image for Jon Lewis.
4 reviews1 follower
October 25, 2022
I really enjoyed these books and would highly recommend them. I think the best way to read them is knowing nothing about them, and warn people looking through reviews here that many contain spoilers.

For those who are going to read a bunch of reviews here anyway I will only add:

I would especially advise against taking anyone who has an obvious political axe to grind with this author seriously. Though note the author does play with western/Abrahamic mythology (I wonder if he read a Chinese translation of Milton? Could it possibly have been any good??). Some people might not like what they see when they look at the stories told by their own culture reimagined by someone outside of it. Like looking at oneself in a carnival mirror. Can really ruin the ability of some people to understand what the author was trying to say I guess.

And: these are science fiction stories in the classic tradition of exploring big ideas on a cosmic scale. They are not exactly character driven, that's not the point. But the characters are much better than a lot of people say. I found many of them very sympathetic and memorable.
4 reviews
January 5, 2022
It’s a wild ride. You’re never quite sure what’s coming next, but it’s quite thought provoking.
December 10, 2019
Worth the journey. It’s difficult to imagine an epic of greater scale or ambition. Liu’s imagination and thoroughness are impressive. It’s hard to articulate the scope and breadth of this work.

Like a lot of good science fiction, this trilogy ends up highlighting the uniqueness of being human - that our culture, emotions, and motivations are sometimes enabled and hindered by science and technology, but that in the end, the essence of what makes us human persists.
Profile Image for Anker Bilde.
90 reviews11 followers
Read
August 18, 2020
18th August 2020
After finishing the third book:
I can't even start to image how Liu got the idea.
How he thought "I think I will build the biggest tale I can imagine"
It starts with the chinese cultural revolution, and reaches from the fall of Constantinople 1453 to the fall of the universe billions of years from now.

27th July 2020
I haven't finished this yet, but I'm halfway through the second book.
The third sci-fi trilogy in my 2020 sci-fi trilogy-trilogy.
The first of them was Broken Earth, which was great. (The first book is a masterpiece, I didn’t love the 2. and 3. as much, but most people do, big recommend, much good.)
The second was Dune, and I don't even need to explain how much I loved that.
Then there is this, and I am now afraid it will dethrone Dune already - or at the very least be equal to it.

I am positive I will love it 'til the end, so I might as well write my impressions from the beginning of this story to the middle of the second book.
Liu Cixin has said previously, that he thinks of a sci-fi concept before anything else when starting a book, and I think it is felt through his novels. It is not because the other parts of the stories are bad - not at all - but because the sci-fi itself is done so well, and with a degree of passion that I love to see and feel by reading it.

This is my take of Liu's priorities when writing a book:
1: Concept/themes
2: Plot
3: Characters
4: The actual prose

It serves him then, that the only thing I can really complain about is the prose.
Some of the similes and metaphors just don't work for me. (I don't know if this is an issue of translating perfectly fine chinese prose imagery to english, but it just didn't work some of the time. It is not nearly as bad as Priory of the Orange tree though).
That being said, the language sometimes borders on the extremely beautiful - I would just have liked a degree of concistency.

It doesn't really take that many points away from the story, especially when it really hits the nail right on the head in the three other aspects.
This is a 10/10 series for me, and it probably will be when I finish it as well.
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