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.
©2006 Cixin Liu (P)2015 W F Howes Ltd
"A milestone in Chinese science fiction." (New York Times)
"The best kind of science fiction." (Kim Stanley Robinson)
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.
A bit of imagination.
It would have been better if there was more thought put into what an advanced alien civilisation would be like. At the moment it's like something out of a cheesy 1950s budget science fiction movie, if that.
I enjoyed the start, when the superficiality of the aliens wasn't made known and your imagination could run wild trying to picture what exactly was going on.
Unfortunately this doesn't last.
The more I listened to this audiobook the more I wished I hadn't bought it.
It just goes downhill quickly and I don't recommend anyone buy it.
A huge disappointment. I expected more for a "Chinese" "best-seller."
It's like a simpler form of the movie Contact, except the story drags on and on about mundane miseries of life during the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960s to "set the tempo" for the protagonist's actions.
It is just so ridiculous. Listening to the short section of the alien race I wanted to fast forward. There is so little imagination or even difference with them.
They're somewhat ahead of us in technology and live in a horrid 'unpredictable' environment and yet they haven't bothered to send probes out to the neighbouring star-systems to scout out a more stable home. -- Even though they can send 'probes' to Earth!
They can go into extended hibernation which would make space-travel easier.. but even though they can send some mystical force to 'interfere' with entire planets.. they couldn't do some spectrographic analyses of the planets orbiting the neighbouring stars to find habitable planets. (rolls eyes)
And so the fantastic "human race" will not only achieve technological equilibrium by the time their fleet arrives here.. (flying at 10% the speed of light at full speed) but we will have surpassed their technology! Okay.
Listening to the 'aliens' whine about their lives was just boring and depressing. What's sad is that their culture seems to just be a dig against all-too-human authoritarian systems.
And to find out what happens later you need buy the trilogy.. which hints at 'hyperdimensional beings' who perform 'sabotage' 'sic on human 'science' to slow down our development.. while the biological aliens crawl over at 10% the speed of light on their 'big ships.'
What I don't understand Cixin, is that the Universe is teeming with life. You refer to the speed of our technological development.. so why did you make the 'aliens' biological? We've had computers readily available for about 50 years and we're already looking to digitize consciousness. The Universe is over 13,400 million years older than human civilisation..
And all you can come up with is a bunch of whining, defeatist drones who can't do some basic astronomy to find another home.. even though they have the technology to do so?!?
I'm just glad I did not buy the other books and I do not recommend this audiobook.
I'm sure that even though we're not aware of the civilisations nearby.. that they are very aware of us. However I like this idea of initiating contact.. just not with a bunch of whining muppets..
How about we contact a civilisation of a more ancient variety. One which polices the Universe to protect it from marauding savages such as human-beings.
I recommend The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Primary Phase (Dramatised)
At least you'll grin and laugh while listening to it. :D
"loved the fresh writing style"
a little slower to start than I expected but I warmed to the style: unashamedly for people with an IQ over 120. Can't wait for more!
This started well with an exploration of the politics in post war China then oh my did it drag on, and on and on.
The narrator was so bored he must be lying down.
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