Sunday, February 07, 2021

Book Review: Death's End

 After finishing the first 2 books in the Remembrance of Earth's Past Series, I picked up the 3rd book in the series: Death's End, written by Cixin Liu, and translated into English by Ken Liu. (Warning: some spoilers may be present in the post)

In this book, I feel the author has outdone the narratives of his previous 2 books. While book 1 was based on initial contact and associated schisms of human world, and much of book 2 was about establishing deterrence through a mutually assured destruction in the dark forest, in book 3, the author has shown a range of ideas around what would happen if the deterrence was broken. Thus, through his narrative of Common Era (early 21st century time before aliens are known), Crisis Era (the threat of alien invasion materialising), Deterrence Era (mutually assured destruction), Broadcast Era (when deterrence is broken between the 2 societies), Bunker Era (preparation for cosmic destruction of solar system), and Galaxy era (post solar system era), the author has covered almost the complete story from common era to  singularity. 

While the previous books had interactions between only 2 eras, in this 3rd volume, one gets to see a myriad number of technological concepts based on many current theories - such as curvature propulsion, fusion propulsion, gravitational signalling, black domain, death lines, 4-dimensional fragment etc.

Through the eyes of Cheng, one sees touches of Hobbesian world - how emotions and responsibility can turn out as weaknesses in this imagined world, first in her failure as a Swordholder, and later, in her failure in allowing Wade to build the escape mechanism.

Though certain questions do remain - such as

  • How could the alien message at the end contain an exhaustive list of over 1.5 million such civilizations having built a mini universe?
  • Given the 3d to 2d letter bomb would never stop working, what did the aliens who sent it meant by retrieval from a magazine?
  • Were there any other civilizational genes, other than the hiding and cleansing genes?
  • What were Trisolaris motivations around Yun Tianming? 
  • Given the bunker era already head anti matter bullets, would they have helped in countering the paper slip by inserting it ahead of other matter of other planets?
  • Of all the weapons to possess for an AI, why did Sophon pick a Katana?
Nevertheless, I think the book is must read, for its myriad themes, and the journey of fantasy based on many real life theories. Overall rating: 5/5

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