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The Dark Forest (The Three-Body Problem Series Book 2) Kindle Edition
Soon to be a Netflix Original Series!
"Wildly imaginative." —President Barack Obama on The Three-Body Problem trilogy
This near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers 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.
The Three-Body Problem Series
The Three-Body Problem
The Dark Forest
To Hold Up The Sky (forthcoming)
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
About the Author
Joel Martinsen is research director for a media intelligence company. His translations have appeared in Words Without Borders, Chutzpah!, and Pathlight. He lives in Beijing. --This text refers to the audioCD edition.
"Wildly imaginative, really interesting." ―President Barack Obama on the Three-Body Problem trilogy
“A breakthrough book . . . a unique blend of scientific and philosophical speculation, politics and history, conspiracy theory and cosmology.” ―George R. R. Martin, on The Three Body Problem
“Extraordinary.” ―The New Yorker, on The Three Body Problem
“Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on The Three Body Problem
"A must-read in any language.” ―Booklist, on The Three Body Problem
"A meditation on technology, progress, morality, extinction, and knowledge that doubles as a cosmos-in-the-balance thriller.... a testament to just how far [Liu's] own towering imagination has taken him: Far beyond the borders of his country, and forever into the canon of science fiction. - NPR, on Death's End
"The best kind of science fiction, familiar but strange all at the same time." -- Kim Stanley Robinson, on The Three Body Problem
- ASIN : B00R13OYU6
- Publisher : Tor Books; Translation edition (August 11, 2015)
- Publication date : August 11, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 3903 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 513 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,510 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2019
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I thank the writer. Onward to book 3
Once you read The Dark Forest, the series' second volume, Cixin's ambition for this saga starts to come into focus. The question of first contact is settled, and the nature of the alien's approach is known: this is to be a takeover of our planet. But how can we deal with a race so much more advanced than our own, constant surveillance by extra-dimensional forces, and fractured elements of humanity working against us?
If The Three-Body Problem was a first contact novel done as hard science-fiction, The Dark Forest is an alien invasion novel, albeit one in which the actual invasion is still many, many years away. It's the first time Cixin starts using hibernation to leap through decades and even centuries, spanning huge chunks of time as humanity changes and evolves in the face of an arrival which will change everything. As humanity struggles to find ways to either defend itself or show that it means no harm, the race has to deal with its own fears of inevitable defeat or a desire to retreat from the only planet we've ever known.
It's not as if The Three-Body Problem wasn't already ambitious, but The Dark Forest is on a whole other level, dealing with interplanetary fleets, lightspeed travel, quantum computing, and more, watching as they evolve over huge swaths of time. But more than that, the novel is a deeply philosophical one, discussing the nature of life in the universe, questions about human nature and how we react in the face of threats, how we work together (or not), and game theory in how we try to handle uncertain intentions in allies and foes alike. Indeed, the central metaphor that gives the book its title (which doesn't arrive until near the novel's end) is a stunning one that helps you understand that what Cixin is writing about isn't just this particular alien invasion, but about the nature of all life in the universe and how we attempt to define ourselves in the face of reality.
That Cixin does this while, again, mixing in such a compelling story (focusing especially on the "Wallfacers", a small group of people tasked with covertly planning humanity's resistance against the invasion) is nothing short of remarkable. The Dark Forest builds beautifully off of the questions and ideas raised in The Three-Body Problem, but turns them into something else entirely, changing the questions from "how do we initially react" to "how would we redefine ourselves in the face of such news". Far from suffering from any sort of "middle book syndrome," The Dark Forest is incredible, engaging with incredible concepts but never neglecting the human characters that anchor its massive scope nor the ticking clock at its story's core.
To explain this series is a difficult challenge, to put it mildly. This is a series that spans a huge amount of time, deals with advanced scientific concepts in complex terms, grapples with rich philosophical and political ideas, debates questions without easy answers, and gives you a scope that can be daunting. It's a story of alien invasions, yes, but one in which the action sequences we're so used to are replaced with existential dread, a rethinking of our own lives, and a fear of the unknown that's hard to quantify. It's also the story of people caught up in these times, trying to give themselves a good life while never forgetting the larger questions of their era, and juggling their own fears with fears for humanity. In other words, it's what hard science-fiction is great at - thoughtful questions, big ideas, and speculation, all of which change the way you think about the world.
This series is a truly incredible achievement, one that honestly left me a bit staggered and reeling as I attempt to think about it all, but one that I love all the more for what it accomplishes. If you're a hard science-fiction fan, or simply someone who loves dealing with the complex ramifications of common ideas, this is a must read series. I've never read anything like it in my life, and I'm a richer person for the ideas it's inspired me to think about.
This English version changed its original plot and become totally different from Chinese version for the part about one of the Wallfacer.
As far as I concerned, the changes influenced a lot in the characterization of that Wallfacer, and his character, therefore, had been influenced in some ways. 'Please notice the terms: characterization and character. Their definitions are totally different in plot-writing.) Whether this influence in character is good or bad depends on each reader. However, I am a person always prefer and respect the ORIGINAL ideas from the writer. (Not even for this book, but for many other situation, such as the changes made by GOT series. :( )
These changes in the major plot, I heard from someone, had been requested by the US editor due to the reason that the original plan made by this Wallfacer was related to another book, "Ball lightning“ (also written by Mr. Liu), which were not published in English yet. In this case, Mr. Liu had to change the plot by himself. Frankly speaking, I do not think this request was a good idea. I had not yet read that book when I first read The Dark Forest (in Chinese), either!!! There was no problem to understand it AT ALL!!! The only consequence was that I then eagerly bought that book after finishing The Dark Forest. Why not keep this original plot and introduce the other book in the footnote? Maybe it will be published in English later, right?
Then, strange things happened. Another character, Dr. Ding Yi, who also originally came from that Ball Lightning, had survived in this book, for the fact that he was so important and could not be replaced or deleted in anyway from this book. When introducing this character, the plot did mention something about Ball Lightning.
Therefore, if you read The Dark Forest in English first, you might find some strange "evidences" left behind in the words just as the one I mentioned above. Here is another strong evidence: after this poor Wallfacer revealed his true plan to the hero, there was a paragraph describing the hero's internal activities, which containing some terms that related to the unchanged (original) plan but had nothing to do the changed one. You may also find the reputation of this Wallfacer shifted from time to time in different parts of this book. Finally, you might become confused, especially when you are not an original Chinese reader of this trilogy.
There are always something could not be changed in a written book, even the changes were made by the original writer (under pressure? unwillingly? I suppose so.). Designing a story is a very complicated thing. When it is done, it should be done. For a book with so many intersections among subplots like this trilogy, it is almost impossible to change one of the subplot without disturbing the others or disturbing the overall picture of itself. If you were a writer, who have experiences in writing long stories, you must know what I am talking about. :) I am writing novels as well, so I know how these things going on.
My conclusion is that this changes are not necessary, but they have not threatened the whole picture of this second book of the trilogy. Although it might become strange in those places I pointed out, the strangeness falls majorly on that poor Wallfacer (Well, I admit I like this guy in the original Chinese version better.) .
Therefore, I gave this FIVE STAR to Mr. Liu, not for the editor or someone else who is responsible of this issue. I will not blame the translator, either. The translation itself is quite good. In fact, I read this one more comfortably than the previous book. Ken's work was also brilliant, but not as native/straightforward as this translator. The translation of the previous book tasted with more Chinese culture inside (I mean, not just the story, but the translation. Ken definitely understands Chinese culture and language better.), and this might be the reason why it is not so straightforward as this one. The two different style of translation both have their own strengths and weakness.
p.s. I have one question for Joel...and for native English speaker here...Do you guys feel strange when encountering the term (appeared in the Dark Forest) "inquire one's mother"? The original words in Chinese version was "''xx'''", whose direct translation could be "greet one's mother". "Inquire", however, should be "''" or "''" in Chinese. They are quite different from each other and I was confused by this indirect translation. Well, you guys may be able to get the idea that "''xx'''" is a very suggestive term for that F*** word term. (Please do not tell me this word can not be existing in published novels. There are a bunch of them in GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire, and directly appeared in TV series. I read a lot of English novels, and F words are here and there, but I have never encountered the expression, "inquire one;s mother".)
My question is...does this "inquire one's mother" term originally exist in English? If so...just forget what I am asking about (Maybe you can show some examples here, if possible). If not...do you think a native English speaker can get this idea easily from the translation without knowing the original Chinese term?
Thank you in advance. :)
Discussions are welcomed, for both opinions about plot changes and the little question above.
While lacking Three Body Problem's central riddle, Dark Forest is a wild and compelling read.
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The book itself is a wonderful blend of science, conspiracy, astronomy and philosophy, linking these key themes of the book together with lots of unpredictable and thrilling turns. The whole construction of the plot overall was truly stunning: the way the story panned out; the linking of everything by the end; the relationship between the two civilizations, including the final scene between Luo Ji and the trisolaris, was truly mind-blowing - the final ending particularly, as it really closed the book for me because it was just so perfect. The footnotes throughout the book giving context to references that otherwise would have confused me were also very helpful.
I was genuinely stunned and amazed by the book; when I put it down it took me a while to comprehend what I had just read - it was such a beautiful book. The theory of cosmic sociology (the Fermi paradox), the buildup to the finale and the final explanation was mind-blowing and beautifully crafted - representing everything that science fiction should be. I am definitely recommending the book to all lovers of science fiction.
Right from the beginning, the world feels different. In the first book, it was the real world, as we know it, with just some hints of mystery and strangeness. Here, the whole world is aware of the approaching Trisolarian fleet, and cultures and economies and outlooks are changing in response, making everything feel much more futuristic and sci-fi even though only a few years have passed. I thought it did a good job in attempting to answer the question of how the world would react knowing that aliens would invade in four hundred years time and the extent to which we should make sacrifices now and seek near-impossible solutions, or accept our fates and live for the moment.
Once the book jumps forward in time, things feel more stereotypically sci-fi, with most of the action taking place in space and the depictions of life on earth also seeming more fantastical. This part was still inventive and enjoyable, just not quite as original and attention capturing, and I did miss the modern Chinese vibe that made the first book and the first part of this one so unusual.
On the plus side, I thought the dialogue and characters were much better here. There were quite a few POV characters, and while some of them blended into one a bit or didn't hugely capture my imagination, Luo Ji, probably the foremost main character, was pretty memorable and attention-capturing.
Definitely worth a read.
There are whole sections of this book that could be cut out without in any way affecting the narrative or the story, that's how padded it is. The Chekhov's Gun principle is broken over and over again by introducing characters and plots that go nowhere and are abandoned. Excessive exposition, drawn out conversations, endless internal deliberations only bored this reader instead of keeping him glued to the pages. While reading "The Dark Forest" I kept having flashbacks to George R.R. Martin's later books in the Song of Ice and Fire series: people talk. All they do is talk. Everyone talks. They talk while eating, sitting, travelling, or just standing around. Nothing interesting happens for a great majority of the book. Just talk. It actually says something about the novel's quality when the most interesting things happen on the last ten pages instead of throughout the 500 that the book actually holds.
On the upside, the translation is better than the first book's. It's a pity they didn't keep this translator for the third book.
I only picked it up again during an extented and unintended sojourn at Beijing Capital Airport, suffering in my own Dark Forest of Chinese immigration bureaucracy. Kind of ironic actually.
Humanity is screwed. The Trisolaris fleet is on its way, and will arrive to take over this vastly more attractive solar real estate in 400 years. Humanity spends most of the novel either running around in panic, falling into deep depression, or being unrealistically optimistic. Scientific progress is stymied by 'sophons' So the human race comes up with an audacious idea. It appoints four 'Wallfacers' who will be given unlimited resources to come up with strategies to defeat Trisolaris. They'll do this by hiding their strategies and thinking from literally everyone. Ranged against them are the 'Wallbreakers' whose task is to oppose and expose these strategies. For the reader's part, we follow the most idiosyncratic of the Wallbreakers, astronomer Luo Ji, through his trials and tribulations.
The other main character of significance is old sailor Zhang Behai, whose doomed adventures form much of the middle section of the novel.
There is plenty of sciency 'fiction', and much of the novel is leavened with infodumps. There is a strikingly naive use of the Roman Square in space battles, and a brutal accounting of the economics of survival in an uncaring Universe. I found the proposed explanation of the Fermi Paradox, the author's 'Dark Forest', to be pretty old hat.
The ending sets up the parameters for finale 'Death's End'
Liu Cixin's science fiction is old-school and high-concept, inspired equally by Isaac Asimov's psychohistory and China's ancient history. This second volume grapples with the problem: how can you deal with an extermination force of overwhelming military superiority, almost perfect data intelligence but one which is hundreds of years away, past any planning horizon politicians, the military and the people are accustomed to?
As ever, the author's solutions are ingenious while in volume three, 'Death's End' (due out in April 2016), his ambitions seem to be set even higher.