Thursday, July 21, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

Last year The Three-Body Problem became the first book not published in English to win the Hugo award, the most prestigious award in science fiction and  fantasy last year. The sequel to The Three-Body Problem is The Dark Forest. This book builds more slowly than the first one and parts of it did not resonate for me. However The Dark Forest ends very VERY strongly. The last section of the book rescues it from being in the 3-4 star range and brings up to the 4-5 star range (on the Goodreads five-star scale).

The Dark Forest is a very different story from the first book. The central character, Luo Ji is a much more interesting main character than any of the main character(s) from the first book (except for the despicable Ye Wenjie of course).

In The Dark Forest there are other characters we get to know and identify with whose fates are known by the end of the book and whom the reader becomes invested in and sympathetic towards.

The author does an excellent job of portraying the far future in The Dark Forest and depicting what world reaction would be as human extinction became more and less certain depending on events that are revealed in The Three-Body Problem.

One of the key ideas of The Dark Forest is the idea that despite what is usually believed, alien intelligences in the galaxy are actually not sparsely  distributed and may actually  be malevolent towards humanity. Liu Cixin explains the  idea like this:
The universe is full of life. Life in the universe functions on two axioms : 1. Life's goal is to survive and 2. That matter (resources) are finite. Like hunters in a dark forest, life can never been sure of alien life's true intentions. The extreme distances between stars creates an insurmountable 'Chain of Suspicion' where the two civilizations cannot communicate fast enough to relieve mistrust, making conflict inevitable. Therefore, it is in every civilizations best interests to preemptively strike any developing civilization before it can become a threat.
This is such a unique and interestingly original idea that it makes the book a compelling read in my eyes. I look forward to seeing what will happen in the next one, called Death's End.

Title: The Dark Forest.
Cixin Liu.
Paperback: 512 pages.
 Tor Books.
Date Published: August 11, 2015.
Date Read: September 19, 2015.

OVERALL GRADE: A-/B+ (3.50/4.0).


1 comment:

Adam said...

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!


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