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The Dark Forest (book review) Liu Cixin

(Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #2)

020616: this is engineering fiction written by engineers for engineers. beware readers who are not sf readers already. beware readers who want things like rounded characters or human relationships or varied attitudes and other messy human qualities...

there is a contention that the second volume of any trilogy is always least. i have not read the third volume but this is much less than the first. this may be entirely structural, because once the idea is released there is not much to speak of, only mass psychology, mass technology, mass history. as this is from China there are some different foci than typical western sf... wondering of what exactly the hero comes up with is the primary and needed curiosity to get through hundreds of pages of less compelling and somewhat stereotypical actions and psychologies of other 'wallfacers'...

things have to happen so many things happen. characters are more viewpoints who are conveniently central to plot, whose individual psychology is not much more relevant than that of entire rather homogenous future human society. there is some sense of history, some tech, some magic- but the nature of this work reminds me more of midcentury American Golden Age sf and not so much AC Clarke or Olaf Stapledon. sense of wonder and technofetishism is in full force. human society and being is technologically overdetermined. human history is summed up after the fact. are there women of consequence, not really- make that. not. at. all. (unless you think being sex and/or maternal object gives you any agency in story) this is sf as boys' club. this is slightly over half humanity that is more or less invisible and inconsequential. as well, it seems that there is not much populace except nameless crowded background to the ideas and actions of our central viewpoints. mass psychology is perhaps more plausible or interesting if less fantastically speculative than say the foundation series, but not by much. the answers are consistent with the questions. there is the conceptual shared ground of science with the aliens. there is extension of sortof platonic presumed essential human thought to share with the aliens...

i will read on, if slightly less enthused than after the first book... and now having read all three i summon up my reading:

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