Death's End

Death's End

Book - 2016
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With The Three-Body Problem , English-speaking readers got their first chance to experience the multiple-award-winning and bestselling Three-Body Trilogy by China's most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu. Three-Body was released to great acclaim including coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It was also named a finalist for the Nebula Award, making it the first translated novel to be nominated for a major SF award since Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities in 1976.

Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death's End . 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 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?

Publisher: New York : Tor, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780765377104
Characteristics: 604 pages ;,25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Liu, Ken 1976-

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h
hdebeck
Sep 05, 2017

Perhaps the final book in this epic trilogy is better in its original Chinese. For me, the book dragged on in repetitive descriptions and attempts at poetic waxing philosophical. The timeline covered by this book is immense and I found myself torn between the extremes of time moving so quickly that I couldn't connect and being mired in prolonged monotonous descriptions. The misogynistic leanings of the last book become heavy handed in this book, with more explanation in the paragraph below. While the conclusion tries to make up for deriding of the main character and feminine qualities, it was too late for me to accept it as sincere. This book did bring me to tears at one point, but the moment passed quickly as the author dove deeper into exhausting descriptions of events that stagnated the prose. The intriguing perspectives on universal philosophy and eloquent weaving of science with fiction that I enjoyed so much in the first two books appear in this book; however, I would only suggest this book to those interested in taking the Dark Forest theory to its conclusion.

*SPOILERS: I tried to avoid specific spoilers, but overarching plot outcomes are discussed and could be inferred from the remainder of the review.*

The misogynistic tone of the book was too pervasive for me to dismiss. Future societies were derided for being "feminine", and female characters, no matter their intelligence or savvy, are described patronizingly as childish or childlike. Society decries the "lack of real men" and inability to produce “real men” at critical decision points, saying the men of the future era are too feminine to be effective, further demonizing femininity. The author ultimately attributes humanity's failure to their choice to follow love and maternal instinct, and highlights that only the masculine men enable survival. While the main character is applauded in the end for following her responsibility, she is constantly condescended to and seems incapable of most action without the intervention of men. While she does take responsibility for making critical “final” decisions, she does little to nothing in between to advance the things that she believes would benefit humanity. Additionally her success seems to come despite her best efforts only because of the multitude of male characters with greater aptitude, intelligence, and resourcefulness. While I hope that the flaws in this book are due to losses in translation, their pervasiveness made it difficult for me to drag myself to the end and accept the conclusion as sincere.

ChristchurchLib Jan 08, 2017

Stay hidden while threatening to reveal your enemy's position. That's the essence of Luo Ji's "dark forest" doctrine of deterrence, which has allowed rival planets Earth and Trisolaris to coexist for centuries. Without giving too much away, all that's about to change. Don't miss this final volume of the trilogy, which begins with The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest. With its sprawling cast of characters, intricate plot, and willingness to tackle complex moral and philosophical questions, this series may appeal to fans of millennia-spanning SF sagas such as Stephen Baxter's Xeelee sequence or Vernor Vinge's Queng Ho novels.

h
htliang
Nov 21, 2016

A stunning ending to an epic science-fiction trilogy. Cixin Liu’s creative and technical ability continues to amaze me. This novel includes a love story, a frozen brain launched into space, human hibernation, four dimensions, black holes, etc. The novel could have been broken down into three or four smaller books for easier reading. Any sci-fi fan who wants to be immersed in science and possible future scenarios will find this a great read.

Space is a dark forest; any noise or light might reveal your location to potential enemies.

“When humanity finally learned that the universe was a dark forest in which everyone hunted everyone else, the child who had once cried out for contact by the bright campfire put out the fire and shivered in the darkness…”

The only way to keep Trisolarans from destroying humanity is through the use of dark forest deterrence. This threat of sending out a signal to the universe (that could potentially destroy both civilizations) keeps the enemy at bay until a devastating mistake is made.

Note that this is not an easy read; there is a lot of science on almost every page, such as:

“The fundamental principle of gravitational wave transmission relied on the vibration of a long string of extremely dense matter. The ideal transmission antenna would involve a large number of black holes connected together to form a chain that generated gravitational waves as it vibrated…”

“If the speed of light through vacuum in the Solar System were reduced to below 16.7 kilometers per second, light would no longer be able to escape the gravity of the Sun, and the Solar System would become a black hole. This was an inescapable consequence of the derivation of the Schwarzschild radius of an object, even if the object was the Solar System. More precisely, the necessary speed limit would be even lower if a larger Schwarzschild radius were desired...”

Some information was easier to absorb, such as this explanation of four-dimensional space:

“People usually resorted to this analogy: Imagine a race of flat beings living inside a two-dimensional picture. No matter how rich or colorful the picture was, the flat people could only see the profile of the world around them. In their eyes, everything consisted of line segments of various lengths. Only when such a two-dimensional being was taken up out of the picture into three-dimensional space and looking down on the world could he see the entirety of the image…”

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h
hdebeck
Sep 05, 2017

Time is the cruelest force of all.

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