Death’s End (The Three-Body Problem Series Book 3) by Cixin Liu (PDF)

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Ebook Info

  • Published: 2016
  • Number of pages: 605 pages
  • Format: PDF
  • File Size: 3.67 MB
  • Authors: Cixin Liu


Soon to be a Netflix Original Series!“The War of the Worlds for the 21st century… packed with a sense of wonder.” – Wall Street JournalThe New York Times bestselling conclusion to a tour de force near-future adventure trilogy from China’s bestselling and beloved science fiction writer.With The Three-Body Problem, English-speaking readers got their first chance to read China’s most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu. The Three-Body Problem was released to great acclaim including coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and reading list picks by Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. It was also won the Hugo and Nebula Awards, making it the first translated novel to win a major SF award.Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death’s End. Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent.Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early twenty-first century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?The Three-Body Problem SeriesThe Three-Body ProblemThe Dark ForestDeath’s EndOther BooksBall Lightning Supernova EraTo Hold Up The Sky (forthcoming)At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

User’s Reviews

Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:

⭐With its completion with Death’s End, I can now say that the Remembrance of Earth’s Past is my all-time favorite science fiction series (says the noob of a sci fi fan). It opens just like you would expect the final volume of an insanely ambitious hard science fiction series to open, with a magician offering to help the emperor prevent the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. Wait, what? This has never been a series interested in hewing to convention. And so we get a story spanning a few million years (specifically, 1453 – 18906416).“Once, ancient Romans had whistled in their grand, magnificent baths, thinking that their empire, like the granite that made up the walls of the pools in which they floated, would last forever. No banquet was eternal. Everything had an end. Everything.”(SPOILERS for the first two books in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series below.)Did I say that Death’s End is insanely ambitious? It purports to encompass most of the history of humanity, and of the universe, within its scope. And, indeed, all things must end. But nor is “life . . . nothing but a fragile, thin, soft shell clinging to the surface of this planet.” As another work of science fiction put it, “Life finds a way.”After a prologue that is bizarre and kind of awesome and strictly not necessary, and a brief interlude with Yang Dong shortly before she commits suicide, the story proper opens shortly after the Trisolaris invasion fleet becomes public knowledge (the Crisis Era). Yun Tianming is a sad sack, a loner, an entirely undistinguished scientist. But the thread of his life has the chance to play a greater role in the pattern of human history when it comes back into contact with his college crush, Cheng Xin.Yun Tianming is a bit of a head fake. Cheng Xin is not only Death’s End protagonist, but is far more central to the story, heck, to the entire series, than any of the characters from the first two books. Cheng Xin is, in at least one way, the best protagonist in the series. That is, she is the most memorable. Not the best, but she is the easiest to keep distinct in your mind as a character. Or at least that was my experience. She is no Luo Ji, though. The Trisolarans are right—Luo Ji is a mighty warrior. We do see Luo Ji again, but Cheng Xin’s story dominates the book in a way that Wang Miao and Luo Ji never did.The Wallfacer project isn’t the UN’s only response to the Trisolarans. Cheng Xin becomes a part of the parallel Staircase Program. The Staircase Program ultimately settles on a truly science fictional idea—using nuclear pulse propulsion to send a frozen brain light years through space.“At the same time, in Russia and China, Topol and Deongfeng missiles were also rising in the sky. The scene resembled a doomsday scenario, but Cheng Xin could tell by the curvature of the rocket trails that these were orbital launches instead of intercontinental strikes. These devices, which could have killed billions, would never return to the surface of the Earth. They would pool their enormous power to accelerate a feather to 1 percent of the speed of light.”We’re not going to spend the entire book stuck back in the Crisis Era, though. The same hibernation Luo Ji took advantage of in The Dark Forest is available to Cheng Xin, and she makes good use of it. When she first reawakens, Luo Ji singlehandedly holds the Trisolarans at bay as Swordholder. He wields Dark Forest deterrence.Ok, now this is REALLY SPOILER territory for The Dark Forest. In The Dark Forest, humans discovered why the universe is so quiet. Given an infinite number of stars, there are infinite habitable planets, infinite civilizations, infinite supercivilizations, and infinite supercivilizations that view any intelligent life as a potential threat. And if you’re a supercivilization, you don’t need to build a system the size of a small moon to destroy a planet.“‘Dark forest attacks all share two qualities: one, they’re casual, two they’re economical.’ ‘Elaborate, please.’ ‘These attacks are not part of some interstellar war, but a matter of conveniently eliminating possible threats. By “casual,” what I mean is that the only basis for the attack is the exposure of the target’s location. There will be no reconnaissance or exploration conducted against the target beforehand. For a supercivilization, such exploration is more expensive than a blind strike. By “economical,” what I mean is that the attack will employ the least expensive method: using a small, worthless projectile to trigger the destructive potential already present in the target star system.’”At least now we know what happened to the Moon in Seveneves.If that doesn’t sound bad enough, things get worse.Death’s End continues and expands on the best aspect of The Dark Forest—balls-to-the-wall crazy science, and lots of it. There are gigantic space cities. “[A] regular cylinder that stimulated gravity with the centrifugal force generated by spinning. With a length of seven kilometers, its useable interior surface area was 659 square kilometers, about half the sizes of ancient Beijing. Once, about twenty million inhabitants had lived here.” There are a few dozen more, like that or not. There is light speed travel. Well, near-light speed travel—“If there really were a Creator, the only thing he welded shut in all Creation was the speed of light.” And then there are antimatter weapons, artificial black holes, multiple dimensions, a circumsolar particle accelerator, and, for lack of a better word, vacuoles.But the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series has always been science fiction with a capital SCIENCE. Not only does Death’s End have a more relatable protagonist. It has, by a fair margin, the best writing of the series, especially the pacing and plotting. Liu (The Lius?) can throw out a hell of a wham line. “Tianming, did you know that the euthanasia law was passed specifically for you?”By the way, the Trisolarans make great villains (I’m not so sure they qualify as antagonists; the antagonist is more often physics and humanity’s current understanding of it.) They aren’t wantonly cruel, but they give as little thought to humanity’s pain as the wolf gives that of the sheep. One trend in modern villainy I’ve really come to find annoying is the bad guy going out of his way to show just how EVUL he is. Think Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham killing Guy of Gisbourne for little to no reason. In reality, even despots need allies. Apropos, I just finished reading a biography of King John. He had a distinct tendency toward cruelty, and it made him a weak king. Tywin Lannister wouldn’t have been the most feared man in England, he would have been the most hated, and it would have cost him power. One of the high marks for Amazon’s Sneaky Pete is that the bad guy played by Bryan Cranston is so rational, which doesn’t stop him from being evil but does make him a much more dangerous foe. Ok, digression over.The Remembrance of Earth’s Past has always been chock full of social commentary, albeit rarely of the Anvilicious sort (perhaps aided by the language and cultural barriers). He sees environment as having an enormous influence on human society, and humans also as being prone to cyclical thinking reacting against the past as much as the environment. Thus humanity vacillates wildly: “The repressive militaristic uniformity of the Great Ravine; the optimism and romanticism of the latter half of the Crisis Era; the hedonistic freedom and indolence of the Deterrence Era.” Like Joe Haldeman in The Forever War, Liu touches on the idea of a trend toward feminization. Men in the Deterrence Era are so feminine that Cheng Xin initially doesn’t realize that they are men. Liu seems to tie this directly to a “half century of peace and ease brought about by the Deterrence Era [that] accelerated the trend.” When things get hard again later, the trend reverses. I’m not so sure. It is perhaps no accident that Haldeman and Liu are both men. If you don’t think “masculinity, as traditionally defined, [i]s considered an ideal,” just pick up a romance novel. Any era that makes Mike Rowe a sex symbol still puts a premium on masculinity.I find Death’s End, and the series in general, most fascinating, though, as a product of atheism. Not just a work influenced by atheism, or the product of an atheist (I have no idea if Cixin Liu is or isn’t), but a work that is the product of an atheistic society. And not just in the more direct ways it addresses religion (“The discovery of the dark forest state of the universe was a giant blow to most major religions, especially Christianity”). Or even Cheng Xin repeatedly playing the role of either Eve or Messiah (“I want to tell all those who believe in God that I am not the Chosen One. I also want to tell all the atheists that I am not a history-maker. I am but an ordinary person.”)I distinguish between a work written by an atheist and the product of an atheistic society because works written by Western atheists, especially American atheists, are still working from essentially a Judeo-Christian perspective. Even if they are reacting against it, their work can still be defined in relation to it. The typical nihilism in modern storytelling, then, is an act of rebellion that we can try to rationalize away—for there to be a rebellion, there must be a dominant order. The nihilism of Death’s End, on the other hand, is pervasive, and thus terrifying. Other books are dark in a way that makes you happy you can set them aside and return to normal life after you’re done reading. The darkness of Death’s End is fundamental, and reaches beyond the four corners of the book. The Trisolaran threat, the threat of a Dark Forest strike, the mindboggling timescale, space itself, all serve to reinforce that underlying nihilism. After all, is there anything more frightening than space to the atheist? They look up and see not the glory of God’s creation but instead an infinite emptiness creating ever more oppressive loneliness. Liu returns to it, again and again.“Death is the only lighthouse that is always lit.”“The child that was human civilization had opened the door to her home and glanced outside. The endless night terrified her so much that she shuddered against the expansive and profound darkness, and shut the door firmly.”“She finally understood how she was but a mote of dust in a grand wind, a small leaf drifting over a broad river.”But because I could not so easily dismiss it, I was left wondering as I read the book, and am left wondering still today weeks after finishing it, whether it meant as hopeful. Keynes was right. “In the long run we are all dead.” Toggle the end date for your book far enough and you’ll get there. Even the Bible ends with Revelation. Humanity escapes catastrophe miraculously, but it’s going to get us all eventually.And so we return to the opaque allegory of Cheng Xin, our Eve and Messiah. Is she savior of bringer of destruction? Is her weakness a damnation of us or merely of herself? Is it even really weakness at all?

⭐DEATH’S END brings popular Chinese science fiction author’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy (begun with Hugo winner THE THREE BODY PROBLEM) to a rousing, fulfilling, and moving conclusion. It is a story that spans millions of years and multiple universes. It is strange, wonderful, full of ideas, and thought provoking. It is grand in scope and despite that, personal in nature. It is quite possibly the best science fiction book of 2016, which was full of science fiction novels that could claim that title, as this year’s Best Novel Hugo finalist list attests to. It deserves all those superlatives and more.A summary of the plot of DEATH’S END is somewhat difficult, although the story itself is told in a somewhat straightforward (I was tempted to put the phrase “sometimes meandering” after straightforward, but that just didn’t seem like the right thing to do) sequential manner. The story starts, in essence, where THE DARK FOREST left off. The people of Earth and the Trisolarans are at a standstill. Luo Ji, the one Wallfacer that actually did his job properly, found a way to hold off the Trisolaran attack via the Dark Forest defense. Luo Ji became what was called The Swordholder. The Swordholder was tasked with the responsibility of broadcasting the location of Trisolaris if the Trisolarans should head to earth to attack. The drawback is that broadcasting the location of Trisolaris would also give away the location of Earth, thus dooming both planets to attack from another malevolent civilization out there in the cosmos.The story, then is how humanity moves forward in the face of impending disaster. Unlike both THE THREE BODY PROBLEM and THE DARK FOREST, which have enough central characters to keep track of to make George R.R. Martin look like a rookie (okay, maybe not many, but you get the idea), DEATH’S END does have one central character, Cheng Xin. She is the character that ties all the sections of the book together as well as the character upon which the fate of humanity hinges. Time and again, Cheng Xin is called upon to make critical decisions. The most important decision comes not long after she is elected by the Earth’s population to become the next Swordholder after it is time for Luo Ji to step down from that post. We all know that every decision has a consequence that leads to another decision point, and Cheng Xin finds herself in the middle of every monumental decision that is made in the book (granted, the nature of storytelling is to put the protagonist front and center and let him or her sort it out). And every decision is more monumental than the previous, leading up to the final decision at the end of the book.While the threat of the Trisolarans is present throughout the novel, there is a point at which the focus changes from fear of attack from the Trisolarans (for reasons which I will not go into here) to that of protecting and saving humanity over the long haul. That’s not to say the Trisolarans didn’t have their moment in the sun (sorry about that) in the story, but they nearly became an afterthought as humanity switch its goal from defending itself against the Trisolarans to defending itself against the universe.One more item about the structure of the novel before I move on to other things. The story is broken up into eras, which are listed in the front of the book and cover from the present all the way through 18906416 (In the timeline of Universe 647 – there, did that whet your appetite? If not, I have more coming.), although in reality (and I’m not sure which reality I’m talking about at this point) the story doesn’t actually end in that year. The framework is a memoir entitled “A Past Out of Time”, from which excerpts are presented from time to time. It proved to be, at least for me, an effective way to move the story along and provide perspective to what exactly was happening.This book is a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is a traditional story where there’s a hero and a villain and a battle at the end to decide the victor (although that kind of story seems to be slowly disappearing from view). Sure, there’s a protagonist in Cheng Xin, but she’s really there to tie up all the eras (by going into hibernation which enables her to span those eras) and be there from beginning to end to provide a familiar thread while Cixin Liu does what he really wants to do: blow our minds.It’s a story of the survival of humanity, a story of moral decisions, a story of love – of one person for another as well as one person for the entire human race – and a story of frenzied, mind blowing concepts and ideas that has the reader’s head constantly spinning. Just when you get your head around a particular idea that Cixin Liu is presenting, he throws it away in favor of another equally mind blowing idea that is just as relevant to the situation at hand. I’ll just list a few here: firearms that shoot bullets which contain a mini-black hole inside of them; the attainment of lightspeed by a method called curvature space propulsion, which has the potentially nasty side effect of reducing the speed of light in its wake to a point so slow that those trapped within its field can’t get out, and thus are stuck there forever in something called a Black Domain; the concept of a weapon that can destroy its intended target by transforming the area of space from three dimensions to two dimensions; and just how do you file an insurance claim on the death of someone who fell into a mini black hole when in their frame of reference they’ve fallen through the event horizon but in our frame of reference it will take so long for them to fall through the event horizon that the claim will never be able to be made?Along with the flood of ideas comes its companion, the flood of exposition, or infodumps, if you will. It seems inevitable that with each complex idea there is an accompanying firehose worth of information regarding that idea. Sometimes it comes in the form of “As you know, Bob…”, and sometimes it comes in the form of the author simply – well, I don’t think there’s anything simple about any of the ideas – telling the reader about it with large amounts of exposition, which sometimes lasts for several pages. If there’s anything that could slow this book down and be a bit problematic, it’s the infodumps. One could argue that at 600+ pages the book could use some editing, but it could also be argued that in order for Cixin Liu to get his ideas across those infodumps are necessary. In the long run, they didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the novel, but I can see where they could be a problem for some readers.With regard to the narrator, P.J. Ochlan, it should be said that he did a wonderful job creating different voices for the characters and seamless changing between them when called upon to do so. His narration never took me out of the story, and he truly did the best he could with the aforementioned long and involved infodumps. I enjoyed listening to him and would be interested in listening to other books for which he is the narrator. I feel as if his style supplemented and augmented the tone that Cixin Liu was looking for in the novel, and if I ever find time I would be interested in going back and listening to his narration of DARK FOREST. He did not narrate THE THREE BODY PROBLEM.With regard to Ken Liu’s translating job, once again, since I don’t know Chinese I cannot say how much his translation represented what Cixin Liu was trying to tell the reader. I did enjoy the text of the story, and it felt well written. There’s not much else I can say about it.It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for cosmic, mind blowing ideas. I fall for the grand scope of a story that spans millions of years and multiple parallel universes, including the old message in a bottle trope. Yeah, I just love all that stuff. DEATH’S END is the book I’ve been waiting to read for several decades. A book like it may never come along again.

⭐The first book in the series was an oddity, one that I loved for the fresh viewpoint, the historical nature, the madness of the characters that are the distilled essence of humanity, while remaining quite believable. I thought the rest of the series would continue in a similar vein, but how wrong I was. The scope of everything touched on just expanded and expanded.I found parts of the second and third books difficult to read. I had to force myself to read through them – the ideas and events were almost too much to consume. It was difficult to focus on the fact that this is all fiction. But there was still that doubt – what if this is really what the Universe holds? It is a scary thought. Perhaps with books like this, humanity might be better prepared for what might really be worst-case scenarios?This is why I have given this book four stars instead of five. I cannot say I love it. I love it and hate it. The ideas it encompasses, the situations and the – callousness? – of the universe and those that inhabit it were a struggle to have in my head. But it is worth it, to experience the universe anew, and expand the way I think about it – albeit in a (hopefully) fictional way.I must also give a special thank you to the translators and editors – they have done a magnificent job, I hardly knew it had been translated at all!Like climbing a mountain, it can be stressful and difficult at times, but the vista from the top can make it worth it.

⭐The 3 part Three body books take sci fi to whole new level. I never leave book reviews but felt obliged this time. There is a certain element of scientific and mathematical theory within the story, to be honest there are still elements I can’t quite get my head around and wish I understood better, this does not detract from the whole experience though. Actually this hard science adds to the overall feeling that you forget you are reading something from one man’s imagination and actually feel as if you are reading some sort of non fiction history.How the author was able to write this down and the translators get it across in English is nothing short of miraculous. I couldn’t put these books down and felt a real sense of loss when I finished.Absolutely fantastic and immersive reading experience.

⭐Slightly clunky narrative style (which might just reflect the translation) and a little slow to get going in the first book, but by the second book I couldn’t put this series down due to its fast pace, enormous scale, and the way it seemingly blended a logical science based (ie. consistent with physics as we presently understand it) description of actions, events and consequences, with wildly imaginative ideas. I’ve been reading Sci-Fi for a long time but haven’t read anything as original as this whilst remaining true to the basic precepts of proper old-school ‘Science Fiction’.I’ve no idea how Amazon Video is going to be able to turn these books into a watchable TV series, but I’ve little doubt that it will require the reported Billion dollars that Jeff Bezos is prepared to pay in order to even attempt to realise something as grand and as complex as this story on the small screen. I will certainly look forward to seeing the attempt, but in any event, if you like SF then do yourself a massive favour and read this series.

⭐So I reached the last book of this very challenging trilogy, and I must say it was very difficult going for me. While there was much to engage me in discrete sections, I literally felt pulled through the universe at light speed because there were just too many complex ideas and theories for me, the average reader, to grapple with.The good bits for me was the love story involving aerospace engineer Cheng Xin, who takes on the role of Swordholder, which followed on (I felt) less excitingly from that of the Wallfacer in the previous book, and average Joe, Yun Tianming, that literally stretched in unrequited fashion over eons, and even in disembodied form (you have to read it yourself; much too many details to labour over). However, even that storyline was checkered, and unsurprisingly so, because of all the eras spanning centuries or more that the reader has to travel through plus all the astrophysics to navigate.So it comes as a huge relief when I got totally drawn into the fantasy tales that Yun Tianming tells Cheng Xin as an allegory and possibly hidden message about the Trisolarians who may or may not be ready to live in peace with the human race. Those tales are nestled in the middle part of 600+ pages and were good enough reasons for me to power through and not give up, and see how they were significant to the main storyline.Another character that held an interest for me is a Lucy Liu-like character from “Kill Bill”, who is actually a Sophon, or a Trisolarian android acting as a kind of envoy and communications agent, who spectacularly splices with her samurai sword some pesky humans who just cannot wait their turn to get at the food supplies in the story arc about displaced populations herded like refugees in the Australian continent, which was a terrifying part of the novel. But she too similarly disappears and reappears another few eras later.The unifying character Cheng Xin and her faithful sidekick AA hibernates through many eras to finally reach another terrifying prospect of the entire solar system collapsing into two dimensions. That in itself was spectacularly dealt with but as they journeyed on to more desolation, it really felt too dark and bleak for me.A clever and intelligent book, but I felt buried under the deluge of ideas and information.

⭐It’s years since I’ve read anything as powerful as this trilogy.I’m not a sci-fi fan to the same extent as many of the reviewers here but this held my attention. It has caused me a few sleepless nights, partially because I couldn’t put it down but then, when I did, because my brain could not switch off and find sleep given the enormity of it all.It has certainly awakened an interest in Physics that my teachers at school failed to inspire in me. I now understand why the likes of Brian Cox get so excited about Physics and the universe, they can see something that most of us are blind to. Cixin Liu has opened my eyes, I’m still trying to come to terms with what I can now see.


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