Non-Spoiler Review of Remembrance of Earth's Past
Remembrance of Earth's Past
or known as (The Three-Body Trilogy)
by Liu Cixin
• Book 1: The Three-Body Problem
• Book 2: The Dark Forest
• Book 3: Death's End
• Book 4: The Redemption of Time (written by Baoshu) (Optional)
The opinion by many out in the world is that the “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” is the greatest science fiction series every written. Written by Liu Cixin, a Chinese computer engineer and science fiction writer. Liu Cixin is a nine-time winner of China's Galaxy Award. In 2015 Liu Cixin won the Hugo Award for his novel “The Three-Body Problem” as well as the 2017 Locus Award for “Death's End.” Liu Cixin also won the Chinese Nebula Award. In English translations of his works, his name is given as Cixin Liu. He is a member of China Science Writers Association and the vice president of Shanxi Writers Association. He is sometimes called "Da Liu" (Big Liu) by his fellow science fiction writers in China.
The “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” is the first Science Fiction series to hit the national spotlight in China’s history. It is so popular China holds the series in high regard as a National Treasure. The book series was published from 2006-2011 and translated into English by Ken Liu starting in 2014 to 2019. American audiences are only now discovering this masterpiece of Science Fiction and Existential Horror. Netflix has a show planned for 2024 for “The Three-Body Problem,” the first book. It is uncertain if all the books will be converted for the show or if they are only doing the first book. The main trilogy take place over a few hundred years starting in and around the aftermath of World War 2 and go up to the year 2400+ to another 18 million years into humanity’s future. The optional 4th book which isn’t officially part of the canon but has the permission from Liu Cixin. I personally count the fourth book as part of the canon, but it is also ignored by other readers of the series. It is totally optional and to me does not hurt the story, plot or characters. It just gives the series a proper end rather than the ambiguous ending left at the end of “Death’s End.”
This BLOG serves as a NON-Spoiler introduction to the series. Here we are just going to describe the basic plots of the four books and some thoughts about them. The hope is I grab your interest enough so that you all go and either read these books or listen to them on audiobook. The audiobooks were very well produced and have that radio/theater quality and style to them. Very few science fiction novels actually change how I think. This series absolutely did that with its concepts of first contact, the dark forest theory, game theory, nihilism, time, relativity, relativistic time, reality possibly being an infinitely long loop, love, death, infinity, multiple-dimensional realities, macro and micro quantum reality, religion not being real and existentialism.
The Three-Body Problem (Book 1):
“Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, the greatest scientists around the world start to commit suicide, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.”
The Dark Forest (Book 2):
“Earth is reeling from the
revelation of a coming alien invasion — four centuries in the future. The
aliens' human collaborators have been defeated, but the presence of the
sophons, supercomputers printed on protons. These subatomic particles allow the
Trisolarans instant access to all human information in real time. They have the
ability to disrupt Earth’s ability to create technologies greater than the Trisolarans.
This all means that Earth's defense plans are 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.”
Death's End (Book 3):
“Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent. Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program, “yhe Staircase Program,” dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?”
The Redemption of Time
(written by Baoshu, Book 4):
“Set in the universe of “Three-Body Problem trilogy,” “The Redemption of Time” continues the events from the end of “Death’s End.” This original story by Baoshu―published with Liu’s support―envisions the aftermath of the conflict between humanity and the extraterrestrial Trisolarans. In the midst of an interstellar war, Yun Tianming found himself on the front lines. Riddled with cancer, he chose to end his life by entering “the Staircase Program,” only to find himself flash frozen and launched into space where the Trisolaran First Fleet awaited. Captured and tortured beyond endurance for decades, Yun eventually succumbed to helping the aliens subjugate humanity in order to save Earth from complete destruction. Granted a healthy clone body by the Trisolarans, Yun has spent his very long life in exile as a traitor to the human race. Nearing the end of his existence at last, he suddenly receives another reprieve―and another regeneration. A consciousness calling itself “The Spirit,” later, “The Master,” has recruited him to wage war against an entity that threatens the existence of the entire universe, “the Lurker.” However, Yun refuses to be a pawn again and makes his own plans to save humanity’s future…”
I will do a bigger BLOG-breakdown of the series with heavy spoilers at some point in the future. This BLOG is for people who have not read or listened to the series and have seen my posts using quotes from all four novels for the past three months. I tend to post quotes from the book I am listening to when I do my workouts, nature walks or treadmill atmospheres. This book series is nothing but brilliant. It’s no wonder China has been trying to adapt this to visual media. As of the writing of this BLOG there are five listings for this on IMDB.com for different kinds of visual media for this property. The only one I think I will have access to, that I can actually watch, will be the 2024 Netflix show on the “Three-Body Problem.” Depending on if you read the optional fourth book, “The Redemption of Time,” the meaning of these novels take on their own meaning.
• What Is Real?
• Is Reality Real?
• Do We Even Know The Difference If Any of “This” Is Real?
• Does Anything At All Have Actual Meaning?
• Does Anything Actually “Matter?”
The phrase "This has all happened before, and it will all happen again" is a line from the reimagined science fiction series "Battlestar Galactica." In the context of the show, it reflects the idea of cyclical history and the recurrence of events. The idea is that history repeats itself, and the same patterns and conflicts reoccur throughout time. This is a theme over the course of the four novels that is heavily explored.
This series is sometimes referred to as “existential horror.” This isn’t to imply horror in the traditional sense. Like, say, the existential horror of aliens invading Earth, like in, “Independence Day,” a monster on the ship “Alien,” or the everyday reality we live in not being real at all, “the Matrix.” It is more existentially terrifying from concepts it raises and how those concepts are dealt from the different perspective of these ideas coming from the different cultural perspective of a computer engineer in China rather than our standard Western way of telling a story, dealing with characters and the existential themes of the nature of our Universe. How this series deals with these questions in our everyday society. An example I will pull from, that really isn’t a spoiler, but how love between two people is dealt with here. China handles these things much differently, culturally and artistically, than say, how American writers tend to write about love in a fictional story. Once you get used to how the information is being displayed in the confines of the story and characters; the easier you get lost in the existential terror of the events as they unfold. To me, listening to these books was like how I saw “The Matrix” for the first time or “Alien” for the first time. That it was more than just a monster movie or insane visual action. You get lost in the concept of “what if” this could all be at play in some point in Humanity’s near or perhaps distant future. That “what if” this is all some sort of simulation or video game where the plot is so fixed that any choice you make has no impact, imprint or evidence on the outcome of the game. That no matter what you do in the game; you end up at the same boss fight at the end, with the same life, the same weapons, the same everything. It's these types of environments where the lack of realism is felt and where we eventually realize that something is not right with said reality. Human beings possess a kind of intuitive alarm in our minds. We hear a voice that isn’t a voice. It is a thought, but we describe to others as a voice. Others do not hear what you heard. They only know of it because you described it to them. However, they do not actually know for themselves. An example would be; we trust when we look up at the Moon that it is there, but you, I, most, have never been there to touch, see, step foot on it to know it if is actually there or not. Granted, we do know that it is there. We see it from Earth, we see its impact on the tides. We feel its gravity. Our mind alerts us when something doesn't feel real. That is usually how we know we are in a dream. Some things seem real, some seem normal and then you see a giant spider in the sky where the Sun should be. Eventually the brain will tell you what is real and what is not real. It is when our realities are flipped upside down and inside out, like a tesseract, that feelings on reality become existential horror. If we were in a simulation of reality and everything was so perfect that we’d began to perceive the artificiality of our surroundings.
Reality is never perfect in the concept of what we humans think of as perfection. In reality perfection and infinity are one-in-the-same. That; “on a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero. It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything. You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You are not a unique snowflake. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world...” ― Chuck Palahniuk, “FIGHT CLUB.” Granted this is not the Universe of “Fight Club.” However, it could be. Some of the quotes in Palahniuk’s “Fight Club” and “Choke” speak to me in a way that his characters tend to live in a reality-bubble where the main character is always questioning whether or not the reality they are in is a real one. “The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide. Self-improvement is masturbation. Maybe self-destruction is the answer.” ― Chuck Palahniuk, “FIGHT CLUB”
If reality seems too good to be true or too erratic to be natural it can lead to dissatisfaction and rejection of that reality. That is why I say if you do not want your reality shattered. If you do not want to think of humanity, you, us, everything, every moment, every lover, every taste, touch, smell, sight seen or idea in your mind as just another grain of sand on an infinite beach and that grain having no effect whatsoever, no impact, imprint or evidence on the outcome of the collective sand on that infinite beach. That no matter what you do as a grain of sand on the beach you end up with the same life, the same job, the same woes, the same loves, tastes, fixations, disappointments, depressions, disappointments; the same everything. Then do not read these books. If you believe in God. You might not anymore at the end of these books. If you believe all life is precious you also may not believe that anymore. That is how impactful this series can be. However, if you are just a science fiction junky, like myself, and want your mind blown by an amazing story, I implore you to read or listen to these.
The Three-Body Series explores the grandeur and mysteries of the universe. It underscores the contrast between human mythologies and the scientific understanding of the cosmos. The vastness of space, the insignificance of humanity in the face of cosmic forces, and the pursuit of knowledge and scientific truth. The series invites readers to contemplate the Universe's enormity and complexity, highlighting the importance of scientific exploration. Liu Cixin's work combines science, philosophy, and storytelling to convey a sense of wonder about the Universe, which forced me to question our place in the cosmos. This series will intersect with science, philosophy, and human existence, making it a compelling read for those who appreciate profound intellectual exploration in science fiction literature. This series not only offers a riveting science fiction story, but also encourages readers to contemplate the nature of knowledge, the mysteries of the universe, time, and the implications of our place within it. It's a compelling invitation to embrace the wonders of science and the unknown, making it a must-read for those who appreciate both intellectual depth and an engaging narrative.
“The creation myths of the various peoples and religions of the world pale when compared to the glory of the big bang.” Liu Cixin, “The Three-Body Problem”