Review – Death’s End (Remembrance of Earth’s Past Book 3) by Cixin Liu (trans. Ken Liu)

Rating: 9.3 (out of 10)

It has been more than two weeks since I finished reading the third book in Cixin Liu’s Three Body Trilogy, and it has left me with a lot to process. It would be impossible to cover everything I want to say about this book into one review. Among those things, I recently had a discussion (in my GR review of The Dark Forest – check it out along with the comments if you’re interested) about Liu’s conservative Marxism, and I won’t rehash that here.

This is also a five star review for a novel that I have some very emphatic philosophical differences with. Liu’s views on gender types and gender roles are traditional, to say the least. If you were taken aback (as I was) by the female characters in Three Body Problem and Dark Forest, you will be positively incensed by Death’s End. The angelic Cheng Xin – the woman at the center of the novel’s events – is alternately put on a pedestal and torn off of it, and constantly patronized and coddled by the male characters. The “feminization” of human values in Death’s End always leads to humanity’s peril.

To be fair though, Liu’s depressingly cynical outlook has little use for masculine values either. If the feminine is regressive and fetal, the masculine is belligerent and destructive, and the oscillation of these extremes is the fatal cocktail for the disaster that befalls the human race in Death’s End. For Liu, there is no escape from our basic nature, unless… (see discussion of Marxism in my Dark Forest review/comments).

The scope of Liu’s imagination and the weight of his intellectual enterprise makes my distaste for his philosophical positions palatable. I don’t need to agree with you to appreciate you, so long as you can back your shit up. Liu backs his with a universe where time and space itself can be toys or weapons (or both); where you can literally reach through the fourth dimension to interact with yourself in the past; where one can collapse an entire solar system (or universe) into two dimensions as easily as sneezing into a tissue. No other science fiction writer today – not even the greatest of them – is coming close to operating on his level. This is the kind of thing that must be read and discussed by conscientious readers everywhere, and only the highest praise will do.

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