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The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu

The Wandering Earth

by Cixin Liu

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I read The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu and absolutely adored it.

I tried to read the next book in the series and couldn't get into it, so I downloaded this novella and then it sat on my kindle for ages, half-finished until today!

I don't want to get too much into the plot because the novella itself is only 45 pages. I will tell you that the writing is quite detailed, quiet scientific so if you enjoyed that aspect of the Martian by Andy Weir, you'll probably enjoy that aspect of this book.

The one part of the writing I didn't enjoy as much was how easily the book just jumped through time. In one paragraph, the narrator would be a child, in the next, a young adult. I know this is partially because it's a novella but it took a little time for me to adjust to it.

Regardless, I enjoyed the premise of this novella and I am looking forward to reading Cixin Liu's other works and novellas. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
"My mother once told me about the time our family witnessed the last sunset. The sun had ever so slowly crept toward the horizon, almost as if it had stopped moving all together. In the end, it took three days and three nights to finally set."

In many ways, The Wandering Earth is exactly what I look for in a work of science fiction. The story gives us a stunning and well-described setting, an Earth that has been transformed into a generation ship that is about to be launched out of our solar system. It furthermore uses this setting not as mere window-dressing, but to have characters experience things that they could not have experienced in a non-science fiction setting. It also doesn't get bogged down in giving us plausible pseudo-science for how strapping huge rocket engines to the Earth would actually work, or how life would survive if the Earth stopped rotating: Liu Cixin gives us a few nuggets of information and trusts us to just go with it, an approach I like far more than an ex-engineer turned author going over the design and physics of a mountain-sized engine for twenty pages. Based on its strong premise and strong use of that premise (that doesn't get hung up on fake science), The Wandering Earth should be great, but for better or worse I don't stop analyzing a story at that point, I also consider the message that the story conveys.

The message of The Wandering Earth, given the ending of the work, seems to be that you should obey those in the government blindly, even when you have evidence that they are lying to you and they do nothing to clarify their actions. The narrator doesn't believe in the government, he just finds rebelling unthinkable, only turning on the government when they are on the brink of defeat. After the members of the government are executed by the mob of rebels it is revealed that the government was right all along, and without them the world would have been destroyed- no explanation is given for the evidence gathered by Kayoko and the other rebels that the sun was unchanged. The Unity Government (as they are known in this story) doesn't even put up an argument to defend its actions, it shows no evidence to counter that possessed by the rebels, it does not share information to convince others of the propriety of its actions, instead it holes up in the command center and expects its soldiers to fight for it without question. It is these officials of the Unity Government that are ultimately revealed to be the good guys, while the common people who rebelled based on scientific evidence are the villains. It is, to put it bluntly, a stupid message. It is a message that I did not expect, but probably should have, based on an incident earlier in the novel when the narrator's teacher pulls out an ecosphere and explains that the shrimp inside died in a week because you can't ever design a contained ecosystem perfect enough to sustain life. In reality, though, an ecosphere like the one described in this story can last a decade, undercutting the teacher's point. I expected it to be revealed that the teacher was giving the students misinformation to crush the spaceship faction, but this never occurred. I should have guessed then that mindless adherence to authority was going to be the message of the work.

The Wandering Earth has good imagery, an interesting premise, and an evocative setting, but at the end of the day what it's saying negates the value of how it's said. If Liu Cixin had a message worth sharing I expect he could write a very good science-fiction story, but he doesn't have one here. ( )
  BayardUS | Jan 10, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cixin Liuprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nahm, HolgerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Do not combine with The Wandering Earth: Classic Science Fiction Collection - that contains extra short stories.
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