Ball Lightning Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
|New from||Used from|
Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
|Free with your Audible trial|
Audio CD, CD, Unabridged
"Wildly imaginative." (Barack Obama on The Three-Body Problem trilogy)
A new standalone military science fiction adventure from the New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of the Three-Body Trilogy.
When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of the mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station.
The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier in particle physics. Although Chen’s quest provides a purpose for his lonely life, his reasons for chasing his elusive quarry come into conflict with soldiers and scientists who have motives of their own: a beautiful army major with an obsession with dangerous weaponry, and a physicist who has no place for ethical considerations in his single-minded pursuit of knowledge.
Ball Lightning, by award-winning Chinese science fiction author Cixin Liu, is a fast-paced audiobook about what happens when the beauty of scientific inquiry runs up against a push to harness new discoveries with no consideration of their possible consequences.
This program is read by Feodor Chin, voice of Zenyatta in Overwatch.
Read & Listen
Get the Audible audiobook for the reduced price of $7.49 after you buy the Kindle book.
- Click above for unlimited listening to select audiobooks, Audible Originals, and podcasts.
- One credit a month to pick any title from our entire premium selection — yours to keep (you'll use your first credit now).
- You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
- $14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel online anytime.
People who viewed this also viewed
People who bought this also bought
Related to this topic
|Listening Length||12 hours and 12 minutes|
|Author||Cixin Liu, Joel Martinsen - translator|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||August 14, 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #5,727 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#60 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#122 in Military Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#159 in Hard Science Fiction (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2018
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Ball Lightning, as the title suggests, orbits around a study of the bizarre phenomenon of ball lightning, which affects the life of our protagonist at an early age. And over the course of a life dedicated to its study, he finds himself involved in military applications of his science, questions about the nature of the universe, and much more. At its best moments, Ball Lightning really grapples with the questions raised by science - what responsibility do scientists have when their work is used to hurt and kill other human beings? Can the quest for knowledge be separated from its uses? Those are thorny questions, and Liu doesn't have easy answers to them - something which gives the book a moral depth that resonated with me.
Other aspects of Ball Lightning aren't quite as strong, though. The character who comes to most represent the weaponization of science ends up feeling like a one-note characterization, which is more disappointing since she's one of the book's only female characters. Meanwhile, while Liu's ideas about ball lightning are original and truly imaginative, they never feel like they're explored in as much depth as you'd wish - there are implications there that could drive a whole trilogy, once again. Even so, Ball Lightning is well worth a read; its ideas are compelling, its exploration of science comes from a place of love but also a place of complex ideas, and its imagination is boundless. Just try to set aside expectations that might be set by one of the great works of science fiction.
In a nutshell, the story revolves around an atmospheric scientist who lost his parents to ball lightning getting sucked into a military attempt to weaponize the phenomena. The cast of characters expands to include others with deep personal connections to tragedies involving ball lightning or advanced weaponry in general, with Cold War-era research that goes nowhere until renegade physicist Ding Yi solves the puzzle and progress - involving some truly crazy quantum extrapolations - begins apace. Experimental weapons obsessive Lin Yun serves as the heroine driven by personal demons to exploit Ball Lightning (which turns out to have unusually broad and magical applications) in its war against the United States and perhaps indirectly, avenge her mother's death.
"Ball Lightning" is a smoother read than the "Three Body Problem" was; the relationships are better developed, the storytelling less forced, and the political Great Leap Forward tropes that weighed down TBP are nowhere to be found. The future science though is not up to the same level that TBP was, making suspension of disbelief a bit harder the second time around but you won't regret it, because... well, it's got a bit of a Hollywood ending. In fact, the whole book has a bit of a Hero's Journey feel to it, possibly written with film in mind. A great beach read!
Top reviews from other countries
This is more of a book about why one of the characters is the way they are rather than being the wild and surprising science fiction adventure which I would have preferred. This was a problem because the impact of this book's description of personal relationships and the emotions surrounding them were somewhat lost on me - whether that's because its written from a Chinese cultural perspective which is so very different from a Western reader's point of view, or whether because something was literally lost in translation, I'm not so sure.
A lot of the larger scene setting was also strangely vague. For example, the book deals with weaponising Ball Lightning and eventually war breaks out. What war this is, who the enemy might be and what it might be about are never mentioned. You'd probably assume that it's the USA but it’s never actually confirmed; perhaps from a Chinese perspective that would be more apparent?
With the three body problem, especially the third book Death's End, I was blown away. With Ball Lightning it wasn't a chore to read through to the end, but I wasn't disappointed it had finished either.
It is not just the poor characterisation, the casual sexism (“her cool rationality was something I’d never seen in other women”), the questionable science, the teenage boy-like obsession with weapons, or, for Kindle readers, the formatting which has left hundreds of dashes dotted throughout the book. All these things would be forgivable, just about, if there was something worth looking past its faults for.
But there isn’t. Because, worst of all, it is just dull.
I like to think I have a relatively high threshold for boredom when reading. But Ball Lightning is beyond dull, consisting for the most part of endless descriptions of research into ball lightning. And even this might be acceptable if it were endless descriptions of actual real-world research, from which one might learn something. But as far as I am aware, it is not.
In the afterward, Cixin Liu describes the novel as being the tradition of 20th century Chinese sci-fi. If this is the case, I’m relieved that 20th century Chinese sci-fi it has, for the most part, remained in China.
And, just to make matters worse, the translation is by Joel Martinsen, who - in my opinion - also let down the author with his work on the second volume of the Three-Body trilogy. Unless Cixin Liu really does write in the style of an American high-schooler.
Perhaps part of the issue is that I came to the book with such high expectations. An average novel from a potentially great author somehow seems worse than an average novel from an average author. But only part of the issue. And for anyone wanting to see what Cixin Liu is capable of, as many other reviewers have suggested, avoid this book and try either his Three Body Problem for hard sci-fi, or Wandering Earth for sheer inventiveness.
Ball Lighting is far too obsessive on this one subject and as a result rather narrow in scope and fictional complexity.
I have read about 30% and probably won't complete the book.