Holy. F*cking. Sh!t. Batman. Shivers down the spine.
|Liu Cixin in 2010, translated by Ken Liu in 2016|
Death’s End is personally the most anticipated book of the year. Not The Winds of Winter, or Babylon’s Ashes. No, it’s this final chapter in Liu Cixin’s cosmological epic that began with The Three Body Problem. Never has a series been able to give me so many mind explosions and send shivers down my spine.
We pick up the action during the initial period of crisis, when humanity finds out that a bunch of technologically superior aliens are coming here to take our planet. All thanks to a bunch of disillusioned humans who hated humanity. We follow Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer, trying to find ways in which they can sabotage the Trisolaris fleet on its way to Earth with the limited technology available.
You feel like it’s completely helpless, because all their efforts go towards sending a freeze dried brain into space.
But the story hasn’t quite finished with Cheng Xin. Just like in the other novels, where we follow one main character through space and time, Cheng Xin is our witness as we journey figuratively and literally, through spacetime, each period of humanity as it figures out what to do with newfound knowledge and understanding. It is, as always a wonderful journey, but it’s not towards the end when you realise just what the grand picture is.
Except the grand picture is just as depressing as the grand reveal in The Dark Forest, probably more so, actually. It makes you, the reader feel so damn small! Irony because I just bolded the text.
But in that open, depressing reveal about how small us humans are, individually and collectively, there’s still hope and meaning and wonder. Even if it’s not explicit, the implications are that no matter what, life and the universe will go on. So enjoy it, since you only have this once chance.
I anticipated greatness in Death’s End. And I got it. Liu Cixin is a fantastic author and this series should be compulsory reading in high school. Forget about that putz Shakespeare, this is properly good stuff. [Fair warning, school ruined Shakespeare for me]. Even better, this is the kind of story that also requires you to sit down and think about it, digest it and form new neural pathways. Just wonderful.
Mind, meet the book that will blow it up a third time in a series.
Read this if you…
Want to expand your thinking.
Skip this if you…
Don’t like getting out of your comfort zone.