The Worlds of Cixin Liu

The universe is a forest, patrolled by numberless and nameless predators. In this forest, others are hell, a dire existential threat. Stealth is survival. Any civilisation that reveals its location is prey. The Dark Forest, Cixin Liu

Cixin Liu is going to save the world! 

Many of us have been enjoying The Three-Body Problem; the television adaptation of Cixin Liu's Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy , on Netflix. I really enjoyed the series, which was reasonably true to the books, although with some changes (notably the characters' names and scene locations).

I became so absorbed in the TV series that I began to dream of it. The adaptations of The Three-Body Problem (and The Wandering Earth) are breathtakingly rendered - I also began to see Liu's skies everywhere.

Cixin Liu's body of work is impressive. In his writing, Liu imagines future scenarios of human survival and then creates the most astounding solutions. His books focus on crises and threats to the survival of the Earth and humanity with believable scientific hypotheses. And they don't just focus on space, they include social and ecological issues faced by Earth.

What do I know? I'm a science fiction and fantasy reader, not a scientist, but his ideas seem plausible to me.

You can imagine my pleasure when I discovered a series of graphic novels called The Worlds of Cixin Liu. We are featuring graphic novels this month, so this was a perfect opportunity to promote them. Written and designed in collaboration with Cixin Liu, they are a tribute to his stories and clever characters.

Below are four of the series, which at last count numbers sixteen. I'm hopeful the library will purchase all of them.

The Worlds of Cixin Liu

Sea of Dreams, a short story from Hold Up The Sky, is a gorgeous and worrying depiction of an alien so obsessed with its own achievements in creating art that it doesn't care about the survival of the planets whose resources it consumes to make it - in this case, Earth's oceans.

This is interesting on many levels - a testament to our possible insignificance to higher entities and the human determination for survival but also raising again the question of the importance of creativity as a trait for higher intelligence - an ability lacked by the Trisolarians in Three-Body.

The Worlds of Cixin Liu 

The Wandering Earth is based on a short story. Humanity observe the sun beginning to change: a signal that it will eventually explode, annihilating all the planets in its orbit - a terrifying scenario that's probably in our future.

The impending global disaster brings the people of Earth together to build gargantuan engines with the incredible idea of propelling the Earth out of its orbit, towards Alpha Centauri, to orbit its star, Proxima Centauri. This is a mission that will take over two thousand years. Humans must first use the engines to widen the Earth's orbit, then use Jupiter to slingshot out of the sun's orbit.

The Wandering Earth has been adapted into a movie available on Netflix, while The Wandering Earth 2, a prequel, has just been released on Prime Video and Apple TV. FYI, planēt is the Greek word for wanderer. 

The Worlds of Cixin Liu

Also from Hold up the Sky, The Village Teacher is about the importance of science education, and a repeat of the idea that a dying man must pass on knowledge.

In this case knowledge is so important that it's the difference between the destruction of Earth or its identification as worthy of survival as a high level habitat, after an interstellar war. I love the juxtaposition of poverty and anger in the fight for survival versus the saving grace of knowledge, available to all levels, but denied to so many. 

The Worlds Of Cixin Liu

Yuanyuan's Bubbles is pure delight mixed with an amazing solution in response to drought brought on by climate change. It's a beautiful idea with a practical use.

A girl obsessed with bubbles creates bigger and bigger ones until, as an adult, an accident leads to the idea that the bubbles can be useful. It's Stephen King's Under the Dome taken to another level, and another example of Liu's incredible scientific ideas. 

I read, in The Circumference of the World by Lavie Tidhar, that a civilisation would be unwise to shout out their location to the universe. As the conditions that create life, let alone intelligent life, are so tenuous, these are desirable things to others facing disaster on their own worlds, who are greedy, or have a need for more power.

If you've exhausted the Three-Body trilogy, did you know there is a fourth book, written by Liu Jin and approved by Cixin Liu?

Liu Jin (pen-name Baoshu) a Chinese philosopher, penned The Redemption of Time (2019), which follows the fate of Yun Tianming, from book 3, Death's End - the character Will in the TV series. It's brilliantly written as conversations between characters, with some beautiful imagery and understandable scientific concepts that will blow your mind. 

I read this because I wanted to find out what happened to Will (Yun Tianming). Now I have a different philosophy on the cycle of life!

The Redemption of Time

Liu Cixin won a Chinese Nebula Award for Death's End (2011), the Hugo Award for The Three-Body Problem (2015), and the Locus Award for Death's End (2017). He is a former computer engineer and was the first Chinese author to win a scifi award in translation. 

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