The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest, by Cixin Liu

Second paragraph of third chapter of The Three-Body Problem (first half of third paragraph in the English translation):

她听到有个男声在轻轻叫自己的名字。 She heard a male voice softly calling her name.

Second paragraph of Part III of The Dark Forest:

罗辑从冬眠中醒来。 Luo Ji awoke from hibernation.

Young F kindly got me the second volume of the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy for Christmas, having correctly noted that I already had the first and third, and I decided to reread all three to give me the full sense of the narrative. Then the BSFA long list came out just as I was about to finish The Dark Forest, so I've put Death's End on hold for now.

When I first read The Three-Body Problem, I ranked it second on my Hugo ballot for that year (which of course it won) and wrote:

This is a novel about contemporary Chinese scientists dealing with alien contact, video games and the legacy of the Cultural Revolution. It's very neatly constructed and convincing. Ken Liu's footnotes on Chinese politics and history inform without intruding. It slightly lost me when the aliens actually appeared, but I still really enjoyed it.

On re-reading, if anything I felt it worked better this time round; the aliens are suitably alien and internally divided, and I think first time round I had slightly lost patience because the book is quite long. You can get it here.

The Dark Forest slightly threw me near the beginning when the United Nations appoints four people (all men) with plenipotentiary and unaccountable power to spend public money as they see fit on resources to deal with the alien Trisolaran menace. But having swallowed this implausibility, I thought it was worked out well, with two particularly good sequences – an orbital assassination and a spaceship battle. The last part of the book is set 200 years on, and I liked the portrayal of the problems of someone who has been asleep for two centuries trying to integrate with a world that has changed. I'm sorry I didn't get to this sooner; I might have enjoyed the third volume more. You can get it here.

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