Has anyone here read Cixin Liu?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Sentience, Mar 5, 2022.

  1. Sentience

    Sentience Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I came across this Chinese science fiction writer on the recommendation of the New York Times reading list, and was very presently surprised after buying one of his books. I'm reading "The Wandering Earth" and it is full of cutting edge and unique sci-fi concepts that really blow my mind. Plus I'm learning all about China and how their society conceives of the future and what values we should all share as humanity, etc.

    Has anyone else here read one of his books? The NYT compare him to Kim Stanley Robinson - are there any other author comparisons that can be drawn?

    I highly recommend him for those looking for a unique or new sci-fi fix.
     
  2. John Clark

    John Clark Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not yet, but I do have a few queued up on my list (Wandering Earth and The Three-Body Problem amongst them.)

    They do sound interesting.
     
  3. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I've been on the point of getting them when cheap (£0.99) for Kindle a couple of times, but upon reading up about them decided they didn't appeal.

    I've read and greatly enjoyed KSR's Mars series by the way.
     
  4. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I've heard a lot of good things about his stuff, but I haven't read any of it yet.
    Have you watched The Wandering Earth movie?
     
  5. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not yet. I bought his book BALL LIGHTNING
     
  6. USS Firefly

    USS Firefly Commodore Commodore

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    I have heard good things about The Three-Body Problem but haven't read any of his books yet
     
  7. Sentience

    Sentience Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I haven't, no, but plan to after reading the book.
     
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  8. TimeIsAPredator

    TimeIsAPredator Commodore Commodore

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    Just started the Three Body Problem as it was recommended to me as something to read "post Expanse" as I struggle to get into a new book after such an amazing one.
    Still in the early background chapters but it's the first book that has me coming back effortlessly.
     
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  9. NOVE9

    NOVE9 Commander Red Shirt

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    Read the Three body problem trilogy last year, it is a great book series and how it paints the way the universe might be is genuinely terrifying. I really struggled with some of the choices human society makes in the books though, like blatantly stupid and non sensical choices.
     
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  10. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Anything like setting off mutually assured destruction just because you want a piece of land that used to belong to your country decades ago?

    I just saw Cixin Liu's books prominently displayed in a bookstore yesterday--and recognized the name because of this thread.
     
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  11. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    I thought one of the more interesting things about the Death's End was how society kept turning on a dime in terms of how it viewed the Trisolarians depending on who was up and who was down in terms of the conflict. Other parts I merely found delightfully wacky, like the American official repeatedly paring down his idea to send a human spy to the alien fleet, or the romance subplot in The Dark Forest, one of the most absurd, wild-ass things I've ever read and that I always delight in recounting. The Three-Body Problem itself is pretty down-to-Earth by comparison with the later books.

    Okay, there was one part where the humans were carrying the idiot ball that frustrated me, that no one figured out anything at all from the veiled intelligence they got in the middle of Death's End. Okay, granted, I didn't understand precisely what the "It's good you painted him before he could paint you" part was referring to until it came to pass, but it was pretty obvious it was somehow a metaphor for the Dark Forest doctrine, and the top generals and analysts of Earth couldn't even get that far.
     
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  12. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's been some years (four? five? I loose track) but I did read at least two or three of his books. Three Body Problem and Dark Forest for sure, not so sure about any others.

    I'd say they were worth a read, overall. Not crazy good (though in fairness I think a lot is being lost in the translation) but they pose a number of interesting concepts and extended thought experiments. The Dark Forest proposition is one of the more interesting - and mildly terrifying - answers to the Fermi Paradox that I've seen. (Kurzgesagt even did a video on it recently.)

    The exploration of what a truly alien civilization might be like (even filtered though a human allegorical context) was particularly fascinating, with the added quirk of their planet's inherently unpredictable orbit leading to equally unpredictable seasonal patterns and climate change, and the effect that had of the development of their society and psychology.

    Unfortunately though, the books get increasingly weighed down by the plot. Honestly the human "mystery" drama side of it gets really silly at times, and it feels more and more like it's just padding for time. At times it's just all over the place, making it hard to really get a handle on the tone and direction. Like imagine if someone tacked four unrelated Arthur C. Clarke novellas together, sprinkled random chapters from a Niven book throughout, and had Phillip K. Dick edit the whole thing. That pretty much sums up the experience.
     
  13. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm wondering how much Chinese party line Communism politics gets incorporated into the stories? I'm always kind of curious about this with Chinese authors, even those who say they avoid politics.
     
  14. Richard S. Ta

    Richard S. Ta Commodore Commodore

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    I've read the 'Three Body' trilogy and The Wandering Earth.

    Highly, highly recommended.

    @theenglish There's an amount of references to Chinese politics in the first book, but the story eventually moves centuries ahead of our time.
     
  15. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Admiral Admiral

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  16. theenglish

    theenglish Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We all know what happens to artists that don't support those things.
     
  17. Awesome Possum

    Awesome Possum Moddin’ Moderator

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    I've started reading the Three Body Problem trilogy and while there are references to politics, it tends to be related to history. I got the impression that would be comparable to an American novel detailing a character's backstory and referring to the Reagan administration. It didn't seem like an endorsement of anything though.

    For anyone who wants to learn more, Quinn's Ideas has some explainer videos on it.
     
  18. Reverend

    Reverend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I vaguely recall a scene in the first book where some Chinese scientists are composing a first contact/SETI type message and the first draft comes off like it was written by a politburo committee, extolling the virtues of communism and presuming that the aliens on the other end of this were of a similar mindset, because what other system could any advanced intelligence possibly utilise? Then one character comments something to the effect of "are you kidding me with this nonsense?" As send-up go it was fairly low-key, but nevertheless the impression I was left with is that he's not exactly a zealot, at least in that regard.

    Mind you in order to be published at all, especially in a foreign market one assumes he'd have to tread carefully with this kind of thing.