This near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking listeners to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from Cixin Liu, China's most beloved science fiction author. In The Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion - in just four centuries' time. The aliens' human collaborators may 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 totally 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.
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A New Favorite
The title of my review says it. If you enjoyed The Three Body Problem, you'll enjoy this too. There are good reasons why many science fiction fans around the world find Cixin Liu so noteworthy.
He writes highly distinctive and original space opera, on a grand scale and in an entirely modern way. And he does it while investing his fully-imagined characters with specific and very interesting complexities.
The society-building, world-building and alien-building here are equally outstanding. And if you like interesting science with your science fiction- it is offered in abundance.
Too many books these days are thinly-disguised clones of some other writer's original success. I'm so bored with copies of copies.
But that makes it exhilarating to encounter a new modern master of this genre, who tells his own tale on his own creative terms.
If a book is interesting enough in a sustained way, as this one is, there will be no such thing as a single favorite scene. This is not a question asked of a great whole. Also, this question solicits spoilers.
Far from it. This is a highly complex story which requires and deserves time and attention- not fast food.
Some may also like that there are a few common contemporary features absent in this trilogy so far.
The author doesn't feel a pressing literary need to add explicit sex, endless cursing, or gratuitous space battles to the clever unfolding of good ideas.
I haven't finished this book yet, and even if I had, I wouldn't describe more of the story itself here. Of all things book-review related, I dislike spoilers the most.
One can discover enough about the general story outline just from the publisher's description. I read reviews for some sense of what reviewers think makes a particular book worth buying.
So I am just here to try to say why I am enjoying this trilogy so thoroughly, and to lend support to a first-rate writer who is new to me.
The narrator this time is not Luke Daniels. When I saw that change I almost didn't buy the audiobook. I'm fed up with poor narrators, and will happily read a book rather than suffer.
The short audio sample only told me that P.J. Ochlan wasn't bad. I couldn't really tell how I would find his narration after a while. But I took a chance, and found I liked him just fine.
There is plenty to appreciate in the non-intrusive reading he gives here. He didn't stumble over words (even the Chinese), kept to a good flowing cadence, and has a very pleasant voice.
He reads intelligently, with full comprehension of what he is reading- and that alone has a high value. So I have no complaints. I will deduct one star simply because he happens not to be Luke Daniels.
In listening, you might at first find the sounds of the Chinese names and places a bit difficult to remember. You could write them down, but I learned them the easy way.
Just by paying attention and letting the story flow through me, it wasn't long before my mind remembered most of the characters and places by itself.
To sum it up: there is an exceptionally thoughtful and original story here, wrapped up and well presented in equally fine writing.
I am your Wall-Breaker
The words "I am your Wall-Breaker" being spoken made me tremble with anticipation. I'll mention a bit more on that later. To begin with, this book is the Sequel to the "The Three Body Problem". Three Body Problem finished with while not exactly a cliff hanger, it was definitely did not complete most of the major plot points. The Dark Forest picks up on right on the heels of its predecessor and introduces both new characters and uses familiar characters. Let me say that if you have it read the Three Body Problem you will probably be lost and confused if you jump directly into the Dark Forest. After listening to the first three chapters of "The Dark Forest", I decided to go back and re-read the "Three Body Problem". Most authors when writing a sequel give a quick summary or explain major plot points of the previous books, this does not happen in the dark forest but jumps directly into major scenes with important characters. Let's put it this way, if you cant remember what a sophont is (hoped I guessed the spelling on that right, since I've only ever listened to the audiobooks) or what it was doing to the world, The Dark Forest expects you to know that information from the first book and doesn't do any recaps or extra explanations, which in my personal opinion was great cause it just left more space for the author to tell this story.
Now while the first book was more of a scifi alien mystery book, this book focuses on mankinds a reaction too the technology lock the earth has been put under. The only safe way to his information from the incoming alien fleet is to keep that information in your own head. So Earth task 4 individuals to become wall-facers, people who are to implement plans and strategies to save mankind while keeping it all in their own heads so that the aliens figure out their plans through direct spying. Hence the creation, of the Wall-Breakers, humans who sympathy lies with the invading aliens and who have taken on the job to observe the wall-facer's and deduce their true plans/strategies and expose these both to the aliens and the world in general before their plans can come to fruition. Hence when the words "I am your Wall-Breaker" appear, this lead to some of the most interesting and thought provoking scenes in the story.
As for narration, losing Luke Daniels was quite disheartening. While P.J. Ochlan does a fine job in narrating, his rendition/reading of characters is very different from the way they were portrayed in the first book. For me the biggest, disconnect was with the Police Officer Da Shurr. Due to the fact that Mr. Ochlan voices him so diff entry from Mr. Daniels, I found that I had to keep reminding myself that this was the same character from the first book, not a new character. That being said P. J. Ochlan does a good job with his reading but be prepared that you probably won't recognize characters by voice anymore. While this detracts from the overall enjoyment of the listening experience it is still a decent narration.
For my final thoughts on the book. I personally was a little disappointed at how things wrapped up at the end. A little to fast and anti-climatic for my personal taste. I can't say anymore without spoiling anything. I give it a 4/5 which is still great. I still give it 4/5 stars so please read it for yourselves and decide. I honestly think it just comes down to personal preferences when you reach the end and how much you enjoy it.
Now I thought that this book was the 2nd in a trilogy, yet the way it ends it pretty much clears up all questions and plot threads. It really reminded me of Ben Bova's writing style, enough to either answer the question or enough to where the question may not be completely answered but in those cases it's pretty much left to your interpretation. No glaringly open hanging plot threads left behind. Which leads me to wonder about the third book in the trilogy. With "The Dark Forest" ending I considered the story done, in fact I had to actually double check that this was indeed a trilogy and not a 2 book series. If/when book 3 is released I have no idea what the plot will be or what direction the story could or would take but I enjoyed book 1 & 2 so much that I wouldn't hesitate to purchase book 3. So in summary of you enjoyed "The Three Body a Problem", then "The Dark Forest" is a must read. If you haven't read book 1, I would almost say that it's impossible to start with this Book and understand what's going on, so if it sounds interesting give Three Body Problem a try. Lastly I hope Cixin Liu continues to write and translate any future books into english.
- Josh "“Ah, the outdoors,' Shallan said. 'I visited that mythical place once.” ― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings"