I finished the third and final book in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Cixin Liu today and it has now become one of my most favorite series ever. It is a hard sci-fi series, originally written in Chinese and later translated into English. The series is full of amazing innovative ideas and was a delight to read. I gave the first book 3.5 stars and gave the other two books 5 stars.
The first and third book were translated by Ken Liu and the second book was translated by Joel Martinsen. Out of all the three books, second book was my favorite. It is probably the best science fiction book I have ever read. Third book was my second favorite and the first book was my least favorite in the series. Even if you did not like the first book much, you should still give the second book a try. Second book was mind-blowing and so different from every other sci-fi I have ever read in my life. I have a detailed review for Dark Forest in this blog post.
Coming to Death’s End, it is sort of like Dark Forest with interesting concepts but the author takes it one notch up with the ideas on an even bigger scale. The author is a genius throwing one mind-blowing idea after another at the reader.
(I made couple of paintings while reading this book. The first painting is that of ring structure in space and a spaceship entering fourth dimension while approaching the ring and the second painting is of an alien droplet – probe)
Just like the other books in the series, the characters are boring and frustrating. It is difficult to empathize with any of them. The main protagonist in Dark Forest was Luo Ji who was the reason for the sexism in the book. This book has a female main protagonist Cheng Xin, but still the book was full of sexism. Cheng Xin was irritating and I felt like punching her so many times. Luo Ji at least redeemed himself in the previous novel towards the end. But not Cheng. The sexism reminded me of Indian novels which are full of “showing women their rightful place in society (near kitchen)”. Most of the negative reviews are because of the unlikable characters, which is a bit unfair.
Like I said in my previous review for Dark Forest, this book is not about the journey of a few characters. Even the plot does not matter as much in this series as we see events unraveling over a period of hundreds of years. It is about Universe as a whole. This book is not even about Earth, like the other books in this series. It talks about formation of Universe, about aliens, about the fact that we are not alone in the Universe. How can an alien species defend itself against the dark forest strikes from other aliens? How can you create a black hole? Multi-dimensional time? Concepts that you never even thought about. You read 10 pages and sit and contemplate about what you read for an hour. Never has a book/series made me think so much about the big questions like our place in Universe. What makes this series worth reading is that I cannot think of another series which tackles issues of grand scale and magnitude as this one does. If you like hard science fiction or science, you must read this series soon.
This was my first Chinese series and we get to learn a lot about their culture too. At some point in the novel, the characters have to decide whether to rebel against the government and they decide to just give in. Most of the main characters are PhDs, unlike American novels. In Western novels, degrees and education of characters hardly matter. A person who is college dropout and fills groceries can be a main protagonist. But Chinese seem to be obsessed with education and degrees, just like Indians. All the major decisions are made by scientists and not by dumb politicians, which I liked.
Some cool concepts that I came across while reading this book –
- “The Earth gave birth to life, but life also changed the Earth. The current environment on our planet is the result of interactions between the two.”
- Spaceship equipped with radiation sail, like solar sail
- Sending just the brain of a person – the Staircase Program
- Future civilizations on Earth
- The swordholder, Dark forest deterrence system
- Deterrence game theory
- Gravitational waves, neutrinos
- Strong-interaction material
- Fourth-dimensional space, concepts from “Flatland” novel about 2D and 3D spaces
- Warped points, bubbles in space
- Rosetta System – database to teach Earth languages to Trisolarians
- Decay of four-dimensional space into three dimensions
- Photoids, destruction of Trisolaris
- Four-dimensional ring
- Space Elevators
- The Bunker Project using the four gas giants in solar system
- Lightspeed research, spaceships
- The Black Domain, creating reduced-lightspeed black holes
- Space cities near gas giants – cylinderical, sphere, wheel with spokes
- L2 Lagrangian points
- Own artificial suns for space cities
- Testing bunker project using asteroids
- Curvature propulsion
- Yun Tianming’s three stories and what they conveyed
- Bubbles, trails – ships with curvature propulsion
- Circumsolar particle accelerator around sun
- Microscopic black holes
- The Black Hole Project
- Paper slip from aliens
- Solar system becoming a 2D painting
- Hypergravitation seats
- Earth civilization museum on Pluto
- Average age of humans is 150 years
- Mini Universes
- Light Tomb, Light Curtain or Black Domain
- Lowering spacial dimensions – for attack
- Lowering speed of light – for defense
- Death of Universe
- Death lines – trails left by curvature propulsion
- Resetters, Zero-homers, Zero dimensions, Universe reset
- Neural computers – operate under reduced lightspeed
- Backup antimatter drive
- Multi-dimensional time – a plane instead of a line. “An infinite number of directions and we could simultaneously make countless choices”.
- The Returners
- Supermembrane broadcast