Death’s End by Cixin Liu Death's End by Cixin Liu
Translator: Ken Liu
Narrator: P. J. Ochlan
Published by Macmillan Audio on September 20, 2016 (first published November 1, 2010)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Science Fiction
Length: 28 hrs 51 mins
Pages: 604
Format: Audiobook
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With The Three-Body Problem, English-speaking readers got their first chance to experience the multiple-award-winning and bestselling Three-Body Trilogy by China's most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu. Three-Body was released to great acclaim including coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It was also named a finalist for the Nebula Award, making it the first translated novel to be nominated for a major SF award since Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities in 1976.

Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death's End. Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent.

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?

Death’s End is the conclusion to the fabulous Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. The Trisolarans and Earth are basically at a stand-off, thanks to events in book #2. The “peace” is working well, but of course can’t last. Enter Cheng Xin, our main character for this installment. She’s a regular, intelligent woman who hops through time, thanks to hibernation, making bad decisions. Maybe that’s harsh. She makes decision consistent with her character, but she was more or less put in charge of humanity’s fate twice, which seems a little unlikely. it works within the plot, but the story works hard to get you there.

Death’s End is a tough book to talk about. On the one hand, it’s amazing. The scale in time and space that the author is working with is enormous and he makes it believable without making it too easy. There’s a lot of science here, I feel like it was explained well enough for me to understand the story. The ideas are mind-blowing but the author backs them up by showing how the laws of physics still apply or how those laws have been weaponized.

My problem is with the portrayal of women. Women are about love and maternal instincts, and in the book’s context that’s seen as a weakness. Men are strong, rational and decisive, the ones with big ideas and convictions. Even though the main character is a woman, she isn’t allowed to shine. She fails again and again, but learns little about herself in the process. The plot moves along because of her choices, but not in a way that lets her control the outcomes. Not that humanity had a chance anyway.

I so appreciate that the author doesn’t take the easy way out. Humanity is outmatched. There’s a great universe full of civilizations and no matter how much we improve on our technology, how much we learn from the Trisloarans and from our own expeditions and research, we can’t compete. It’s not a hopeful book. It’s also not a fun book really, but it is captivating.

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.

2 Comments

  • I’ve been meaning to read Three Body problem forever, the audiobook still waiting patiently on the “shelves”. I do think this is an interesting twist — that humanity is ultimately outmatched, but we’ve all got to just keep on trying. Thanks for summing it up in such a beautiful way.

    • It’s a great series. This is maybe my least favorite of the three, but not because it’s not good. It’s imaginative and a big story, just not the ending I would have preferred.

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