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Ball Lightning

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,828 ratings  ·  258 reviews
A new science fiction adventure from the New York Times bestselling author of the Three-Body Trilogy, Cixin Lu's Ball Lightning is a fast-paced story of what happens when the beauty of scientific inquiry runs up against the drive to harness new discoveries with no consideration of their possible consequences.

When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 2nd 2018 by Head of Zeus (first published 2004)
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Kevin Gross No significance I can see. The last few chapters were unnecessary and felt like underdeveloped material, should have been edited out.
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Sep 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard sci-fi fans
Shelves: owned-ebooks
3.5/5 stars

Cixin Liu greatly examined the effects of obsession, science, and weaponry in Ball Lightning.

I’m a fan of Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth Past trilogy. The second book in that series, The Dark Forest remains in my personal top three sci-fi novels of all time and will most likely stay there for a very long time. Plus, the fact that Ball Lightning is translated by Joel Martinsen, the same translator of The Dark Forest, made me eager to read this one.

Picture: Ball Lightning Chinese cove
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I got this book, I freaked out. I mean, let me put it this way: Cixin's imagination is heads and shoulders above most of the crap out there. Maybe even a large portion of a torso. :) So the moment I got it, I started dancing around and played the fool because anyone who puts so many AWESOME ideas on the page is going to make me do the happy-jig.

Fast-forward half a second.

I'm reading this. I dropped all my other projects like hot potatoes and felt very little guilt about it.

The establishing
Three Body is my favorite SF series of all times. It surpasses everything I ever read. The protons theory, the two and four dimensions universes, the scope, the droplet, the Singer, in a word The Imagination blew my mind. I expected nothing less from this one, but it did not quite raise to the expectations.

Chen, as a fourteen-year-old boy, watched his parents turn to ashes from a ball lightning. From that moment on, he dedicated his life in understanding it. Later on, in order to pursue his life
Scott  Hitchcock

Interesting premise and as always the author opens up new worlds to those of us without a working understanding of advance theoretical physics. I didn't love this like I did the Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy but it was still very thought provoking. This also serves as a prequel of sorts with some character overlap and the first signs that somebody is watching us.
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

Have you ever been so deeply fascinated by something that it hence led you to dedicate all your life into understanding the very core of that object of interest? While finding your purpose in life can lead a person to fully actualize themselves in the long run, this inevitable tunnel vision can also turn toxic one’s self and their immediate social circle. It’s being able to distance yourself from it whenever possible that you put yourself in a p
I can't even imagine the situation inside Liu Cixin's head. He has a "what if" idea and then explosion after explosion happens. He also has an uncanny ability to create tension not from characters or plot, but from the realm of ideas. Speaking of characters, if you read scifi for character development, then he might not be the best writer for you. You should be able to accept that he comes from a literary tradition that is not western, somewhere where character development is not as important, h ...more
Jerry Jose
While this book leaves readers vacillating between the possibility of story being a loose prequel to The Three Body Problem and a solid standalone on its own, Liu collapses that state function in the afterword. Maybe this is a good time to publish an updated version of 'The Dark Forest', with Tyler's actual plan from the chinese version.

According to Liu, The Ball Lightning belongs to the earlier strand of chinese science fiction than the expansive category he puts his Trilogy into. Yet, he keep
I can't get enough of Cixin Liu's incredible imagination and vision. I love everything he's written and Ball Lightning is a brilliant book. It's not the easiest read in the world - its ideas and science are challenging at times- but the effort is so worth while. Love these characters, their stories and this vision of co-existing dimensions. I also saw Ball Lightning myself many years ago and so I read this with extra fascination. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, audio, own
Jason Furman
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ball Lightning, by the author of The Three Body Problem, is the story of a man who watches his parents get incinerated by ball lightning and ends up devoting his life to the study and control of ball lightning. Evidently a real phenomenon that is rarely observed and not well understood, the book starts by having him go through the current scientific theories but then the science gets into increasingly exotic macroscale quantum mechanics as his search takes him increasingly through Chinese and ev ...more
After a long and sometimes slow start (~40%) in which our protagonist develops an obsession with the study of ball lightning, the story finally gets down to some really imaginative science fiction, old school, as it invents some, let's call them extensions, to modern physics, and then has some really off-the-wall fun with the concepts. It would be easy to quibble with these ideas, but it's still fun to see how Cixin Liu messes with physics via truthiness. Also, he helps China defeat US in World ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: llegits-2018
7'5. Mantiene su estilo característico, pero la historia no me ha atrapado como con otras de sus obras, y los defectos tienen más peso entonces. El final me ha gustado mucho y le he subido una estrella, sino se quedaba con tres.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only one word needed, brilliant. Don’t go looking for deep character, but the story and quantum physics is mind bending.
isabelle ☼
4.5 ✩

though ball lightning hasn't managed to quite match the scientific and ethical scope of the remembrance of earth's past trilogy, it definitely featured liu cixin's vivid imagination and fantastic ideas that kept me shooketh amazed and captivated with every twist up until the very end.(view spoiler) it displayed the clashing and mixing of ideologies t
Mya Alexice
"I knew I was leaving something behind forever, and I knew I would never return."

Word of warning: do not read this Liu Cixin book first if you're just getting into the author. Read The Three Body Problem.

Review: Liu Cixin does it again. I can't believe i'm giving a book five stars that really had me wondering if I was going to finish it at all during its first third, and then becoming overwhelmed with WTF (in a good way) in the final third. There's a whole bunch of science mumbo jumbo that yo
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
BALL LIGHTNING was actually written before Cixin Liu’s amazing, award-winning THREE-BODY trilogy. Liu is the first Chinese-language science fiction author to win the Hugo award and thus I was quite excited about reading BALL LIGHTNING.

One of the features of Liu’s science fiction is his inclusion of real science and mathematical concepts along with his whimsical adaptation of these ideas in creative and mind-expanding ways. This is a central feature of BALL LIGHTNING which is about a form of sphe
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The ending of this book was absolutely poingant, beautiful, and simply brilliant.

Unfortunately that wasn't enough to salvage the book from the previous 300 plus pages of boredom. Most of this novel is really just an exploration of hypothetical science. Interesting, thought provoking speculative science, but with a minimum of plot (the book jackets forecast interpersonal conflict doesn't show up), and a minimum of characters (which is particularly sad because what makes the ending so amazing is t
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another really great story from the leading Chinese author of sci-fi. What a fantastic and novel explanation he came up with for ball lightning. The book even acts as a bit of prequel to the Three Body series.
This book is quite the snoozer. If you enjoy hard science fiction that is 95% like reading a science textbook, 5% plot, and 0% characterization, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, skip it.
Azeem Azhar
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Liu’s writing combines a hard science fiction with a Chinese perspective. It gives the characters and lot a quality we don’t often get in the UK.
Mario Lopez
The first half of the book was a bit weak, but right at the middle there’s some heavy science fiction thrown in that’s fantastic.

Cixin Liu is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read almost all of his English translated short stories, and I’ve read the Remembrance of Earth's Past (Three Body Problem) trilogy twice.

This book, however, was probably his weakest one from the bunch. The second half makes it worth reading, but I wouldn’t rush to go read it.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm high-balling this book, which should be a 3.5.

I'm not really comfortable with how Liu handles science. He's got a recipe: an almost superhuman "mad scientist" theorist, who wants to see how the theory works out, and doesn't care about the consequences. He abuses science in ways that I find bizarre. I suppose you can't write science fiction without stretching science, but there's a point at which that stops working. Specifically: his notion of an "observer" in quantum mechanics is just weird.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this over 2 days. The science is very informative just like his previous novels. Although from what I've read, this was written prior to the trilogy. I felt like it wasnt written as well. The dialogue felt strained and wooden at times. Not sure if it was the translation. The plot was ok but I felt like the science took over too much. The characters were good and I did like the 1st person pov. Not his best. Reccomended for people whl love science heavy scifi.
Kevin Grubb
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liu's science fiction works, for all of their faults, are just so interesting. I appreciate how focused he is on both the science and the possible societal consequences of the technologies he explores. He asks "what if" and answers it in fascinating detail. Ball Lightning is no different.

As usual, Liu falls short in two key areas:

1. Dialog. The characters love their exposition. Paragraphs of it. It makes the book feel like a series of college lectures sometimes. Thankfully, most of these lecture
Jing Gao
Jan 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Liked this one better than the Three Body Trilogy. There are much more details on how the technology was conceived to finally made available for military usage. You don't have to be stuck there wondering about how 智子 works, because the development of the spherical lightening is step by step showed to you as the story goes on. Also loved the theoretical physicist, who is the protagonist to some other works of the author...(who probably is the fictitious greatest mind since Einstein)
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"What area of modern physics isn’t out there, or incredibly hard to believe?" This quote from Ball Lightning sums up the concepts behind this book perfectly.

I fell in love with Liu Cixin's writing with The Three-Body Trilogy. Liu is an excellent author whose hard science science fiction books push into areas seldom explored by other authors. Additionally, being Chinese, the settings, politics, and historic references in his books are very different than those of "western" writers. The twists and
David Hill
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-sff
I put this in the "big idea" category of science fiction. It's primarily about a big idea (the study of ball lightning) rather than character or plot. The plot exists for us to explore the big idea and how the world might be changed by it. Often in these "big idea" stories we get characters that verge on cardboard cutouts and perhaps the peripheral events in the book are either not very well thought out or not sufficiently explained such that they make sense.

I think both these are true of this
Ursin Raffainer
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As expected, once again a brilliant book by Cixin Liu.

Ok, you dont necessarily bond with the MC but his life between Obsession and the search for purpose in his life easily make you care enough. I read the book in 2 days because i wanted to know what happens next. Its a real page turner.

Also as expected from Cixin Liu, the book has a few very technical parts which might be hard to understand/follow for some. Especially the Quantum Physics parts.
But i loved how he explores the possibilities of ph
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
i didn't love this as much as i love the three-body problem series, but it's still a great book

liu cixin does hard science fiction, in this case investigating the phenomenon of ball lightning, but he also uses it as a way to show morality in science. should it be pursued at all costs, are there mysteries we shouldn't probe, and how do we balance the risk to human lives with the opportunity to advance our knowledge of the universe?

the theoretical physicist, ding yi, is incredibly fascinating. he
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, 9, ebooks, library, sf, translation
I jumped to this one with 2 books left in my summer/holiday TBR when I realised it had auto-borrowed itself from the library and was ticking away my borrowing time.

I found the beginning interesting, although the prose felt a little more "blocky" than I am used to (especially after recently reading McKillip and McKinley). That could be the author, the translator or a combination of both.

Today, I picked it up at 22% and just kept reading through to the end. The explanation offered for ball lightn
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“First I’ll tell you about the picture of the universe painted by modern physics: the geometry of the universe is not physical.” “Can you be a little less abstract?” “What if I put it this way: in the universe, apart from empty space, there is nothing.” 1 likes
“I am Ding Yi.” He opened up two folding chairs and motioned for us to sit down, then returned to his chair. He said, “Before you tell me why you’ve come, let me discuss with you a dream I’ve just had.… No, you’ve got to listen. It was a wonderful dream, which you interrupted. In the dream I was sitting here, a knife in my hand, around so long, like for cutting watermelon. Next to me was this tea table. But there wasn’t an ashtray or anything on it. Just two round objects, yea big. Circular, spherical. What do you think they were?” “Watermelon?” “No, no. One was a proton, the other a neutron. A watermelon-sized proton and neutron. I cut the proton open first. Its charge flowed out onto the table, all sticky, with a fresh fragrance. After I cut the proton in half, the quarks inside tumbled out, tinkling. They were about the size of walnuts, in all sorts of colors. They rolled about on the table, and some of them fell onto the floor. I picked up a white one. It was very hard, but with effort, I was able to bite into it. It tasted like a manaizi grape.… And right then, you woke me up.” 0 likes
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