How Ken Liu went from engineer to lawyer to SF writer to the foremost translator of Chinese sf into English

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Double-plus good. I quite enjoyed the whole trilogy. :slight_smile:


I really liked The Three Body Problem, but I couldn’t finish The Dark Forest. The audiobook for that one wasn’t translated by Ken Liu, and the narrator sounded like text-to-voice software.

Though it’s not the narrator’s fault I couldn’t finish it, and I’m not sure a better translation would have helped the problems that made me stop.


The several chapters of ultra-cringey romance of a woman in a main character’s head - who then turns out to be real - seriously put me off. When she gets literally fridged to explicitly give that character motivation I just couldn’t continue. I actually said “oh come on” and stopped playback.


This trilogy completely melted my brain (for the better, I assure you!) I haven’t been shook this close to the bone since Dune.


If you can finish The Dark Forest, Ken Liu translates the concluding book in the trilogy.


I really liked the first volume, and the second one was great for communicating some concepts, like the dark forest in the title even with the problem that @bucket mentioned in the spoiler.
However, I’ve been struggling to start the last one because some details looks cringy and might be just the tip of the iceberg.

My problem is with this specific detail:
“Sophon is repurposed as an ambassador of Trisolaris on Earth. Instead of the practically intangible true form of its, it now inhabits the robot body in the form of a gorgeous Japanese woman who appears to be all fragile and harmless”.

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Don’t you want to know what happens to us?!

Your blurred spoiler is similar to why I couldn’t read THE WIND-UP GIRL. Future ideas swaddled heavily in 19th-century sexist/male gaze/racist tropes isn’t my jam.

I read the whole series and I was left wondering why it received any awards at all. Each book was a combination of good writing and the most useless wool gathering I’ve seen in a supposedly first rate book. I don’t know if they don’t believe in editors, if the translation left something out, or there was some kind of cultural difference that made the endless, mind numbing parts of the book more important than they seemed. It was very frustrating because there are some really fun concepts in there and some of the characterization is good, but then the book would turn 180 and the characters would be wooden and the plot would just go off to nowhere only to be completely wasted when the actual plot started back up.

I cannot recommend these books to anyone. There isn’t enough good in them to justify all the bad.

Everyone should, of course, read what they like, but I don’t think you have a great handle on what that book is actually all about.


Read the trilogy and enjoyed it a bunch. Good thought-fodder. Interesting, sino-centric viewpoint that is not the usual in most science fiction.

My only complaint is that it did take forever to get to the end of time in Death’s End. Felt like a bit of a slog reading through the last part of the book at multiple times.

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I finished the first book, but couldn’t bring myself to try the rest. Interesting concepts, but its been done before in other scifi I’ve read.

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I read through the trilogy, and while it’s certainly good, if asked to describe it in a single word I’d call it miserable.

As an aside, I wonder if one of the reasons Ken Liu has had visa problems with China could be that the USA has declared a trade war with China?

Can you please cite these instances in Cixin’s books, Declan?

The thing that I liked most about the books was the balance between disaster and hope (also the same reason I tremendously enjoyed the movie “Wandering Earth”.) To me trilogy is one long, “fortunately/unfortunately” joke. I doff my hat to both the original author and the English translator for handling it so deftly.

That’s the same reason I stopped reading Stephenson. Oh, wait, no I didn’t!

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