The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu
Translator: Joel Martinsen
Narrator: P.J. Ochlan
Series: Three Body #2
Published by Macmillan Audio on July 7, 2015
Source: Library
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 22 hrs 32 mins
Pages: 512
Format: Audiobook
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four-half-stars

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.

The Dark Forest is amazing. While the first book in the series, The Three-Body Problem, explains the history of how contact was made with the Trisolarians and their intentions, 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. 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.

There is a mix of old and new characters in this installment. Da Shi, a planetary defense officer, has returned. He is cunning, with street smarts that a lot of the more intellectual characters lack. However, our main character, Luo Ji, is new. 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 is that, is due to the situation, you never truly know the characters’ intentions or mindset. The reader is lead in one direction only to be turned upside later when the true direction is revealed. It keeps you off balance in a good way.

This is a translation. I listened to the audiobook and sometimes the dialogue is a bit stilted, but I don’t know if that’s the writing, the translation, or the narrator. It didn’t bother me, it’s just worth noting. My one complaint is about characters, which hard sci-fi rarely excels at in my opinion. Like many, The Dark Forest is more concerned with ideas than the people. First, there is a definite lack of women characters. Second, few of the characters are fully developed, most are rather wooden.

This is not a series I can read straight through. It’s hard sci-fi and the books are long. I loved The Dark Forest, and the explanation of the title is awesome too, but I’ll take a break before the third one. I’m not ready to see end it yet.

About Cixin Liu

Cixin Liu

Liu Cixin (simplified Chinese: 刘慈欣; traditional Chinese: 劉慈欣; pinyin: Liú Cíxīn; born 23 June 1963) is a Chinese science fiction writer. He is a nine-time winner of the Galaxy Award (China’s most prestigious literary science fiction award), winner of the 2015 Hugo Award (for The Three-Body Problem) and the 2017 Locus Award (for Death’s End) as well as a nominee for the Nebula Award. In English translations of his works, his name is given in the form Cixin Liu.

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