Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilisation on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth.
Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them or to fight against the invasion.
"A milestone in Chinese science fiction." (New York Times)
"The best kind of science fiction." (Kim Stanley Robinson)
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This book has a wealth of great ideas, and it manages to combine great scientific ideas with interesting cultural and social ideas as well. Particularly, the Chinese Cultural Revolution plays a significant role in the story, which has a great impact on one of the main characters. As a westerner (from northern Europe), the Cultural Revolution is not an even I know much about, but seeing it presented from a Chinese viewpoint (albeit with great hindsight) was very interesting.
The scientific ideas are also fantastic. They are complicated (for a novel), and one of them takes several chapters to introduce, but you won't even realise you're being introduced to it. It's absolutely brilliant.
The narration is wonderful in my opinion. Roubicek is quite mellow and perhaps even delivers a tint of depression in the tone, but it suits the book. The book has a eerie sense of mystery and despair, and Roubicek's narration enhances this atmosphere.
I'll mention the only downside I noticed: One of the main characters is a bit flat and uninteresting. I'm not sure if this is intended to increase immersion (it's easier to fill and empty pair of pants, so to speak). He is interesting for what happens to him, but many of the supporting characters are more complex and interesting.