Death’s End by Cixin Liu. Book Review
Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, and of the beginning of the Trisolar crisis, awakens to a very different world from the one she remembers. For half a century the Trisolarans have been kept at bay and the fragile peace would appear to be working. But its success exists on a knife-edge that the Trisolarans might, through Earth’s complacency, be in the process of upending. Will the knowledge Cheng Xin holds be the key to Earth overcoming its uncomfortable stand-off with the Trisolarans or will it die?
In Death’s End there is a sense of the human race striving for the feel-good factor from the excitement that comes from discovering the new and exciting. But they also feel a terrifying sense of their own insignificance in the greater scheme of things, and the constant pressure of the threat from superior life forms, as their probing further into space is likely to alert potential enemies to their existence.
Cheng Xin is definitely the central character within this volume, because she is asked to make some monumental decisions which are too much for one person to shoulder on their own. She is also the driving force or catalyst of many of the events that take place in this epic story and her moral courage is astounding. Cheng Xin is also part of a remarkable love story that threads its way so delicately through the book that its lasting strength becomes a thing of marvel and poignancy.
The people of earth are seen as components of a whole, and the constant shift in politics and attitudes of the planet’s population resonate very strongly with anyone who has read and enjoyed Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.
Like the Foundation Trilogy this is a series that I will always have on my book shelves because of the pleasure it gives to revisit it and wrestle all over again with the ideas and complex philosophical scenarios of the text.
Death’s End is a novel that has to be absorbed slowly and with a means of internet access to constantly look up the many concepts of theoretical physics embedded within the narrative, but this is why The Three Body trilogy is so intriguing.
Credit is also due to the translator, the extraordinary Ken Liu, for creating a read which enables all the high level concepts to weld with the ongoing epic story.