Monday, May 23, 2016

Remarkable Reading

I haven't been writing about some of the books I have been reading recently. In fact, it's been a long time since I have. This whole semi-retirement thing has changed some of the things I do and when I do them. I have been spending more time with music - playing, practicing, arranging. I have also gotten into some of the photography websites, posting etc.

I am still reading as much as ever, I just haven't been writing about it. I am going to try to rectify that, but I wouldn't hold my breath.  In any case I have just finished the second book of a remarkable science fiction trilogy. The trilogy is titled The Remembrance of Earth's Past by Chinese sci-fi superstar Liu Cixin. I had never heard of him since none of his books were published in English until the first volume of the trilogy was translated and published in 2014. It promptly won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the first translation ever to do so, and was nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel.

Volume one is The Three-Body Problem; volume two is The Dark Forest. Volume three, Death's End is to be published in English this fall. They are hard-science, space opera, sociological explorations, and unlike anything I have read very often in their scope and continuity. I can only put them in the same rarefied sci-fi Olympus as Orson Scott Card's Ender Saga and Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy. Throw in some of Dune and Stranger in a Strange Land and you will have an idea of the imaginative world of Liu Cixin.

What is it about? Well, start with First Contact with aliens and the accompanying issues, chaos, fear, and uncertainty. Add Chinese cultural concerns of the mid-20th Century, the need for international cooperation, the limitations of science, cosmic (as well as human) sociology and human relationships. Mix them all together as in any of the great works of sci-fi literature- and you have this joy ride of a series.

I found myself making one good guess about the direction- and several "Aha!" moments rivaling Ender's Game (still my all-time great whiplash moment in reading!) Beyond those few, the books unfold hiding as much as they reveal, yet leading toward .... something still waiting in volume three. As reviewers have said, for any science fiction fan, this series is an absolute MUST READ!

You will thank me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Speaking of must read trilogy completions:
Book 3 of Justin Cronin's Passage Trilogy is due to drop tomorrow (May 24).  My daughter recommended it to me when the first book, The Passage, was published six years ago. She neglected to tell me it was about vampires (although somewhat unconventional ones). By the time I found that out I was hooked. Book 2, The Twelve was a good middle-of-a-trilogy book in 2012. The City of Mirrors is to be its crown. Patience is a necessity in this world of trilogies, but this one is finally here. (I'm third in the hold queue at the local library. If I can wait that long.)

No comments: