The Wandering Earth, by Liu Cixin


Dan Brown slyly mentioned (through Robert Langdon’s thoughts) in his latest, Inferno, that there are simply too many authors and too many books today. Not in those terms, but that was the idea. True, it is a task nowadays to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Which is why the occasional good book surprises you.
Summary: The Wandering Earth is longer than a short story but shorter than a novella (it’s about 47 pages but it doesn’t seem right to classify it as a short story). Several centuries have passed and the earth, as we know it, has stopped rotating, resulting in human beings hiding underground while large machines convert the planet into a rocket, as it makes its journey away from the sun, and into the orbit of Proxima Centauri.
The way the book has been written, it sounds way more believable than my one-line note above.
Genre: Sci-fi (I am gushing about this story, and I don’t even like sci-fi as a genre! Says a lot, doesn’t it?)
Layout/Language: This is the section where this book gets maximum points, but also loses a lot of points. The descriptions are vivid, if I put it simply. The Wandering Earth describes the future as neither dystopian (as most sci-fi books) nor (definitely not) utopian. It is merely “different” from the present. A tad bleak, perhaps, but certainly not the kind that makes you afraid for your great grandchildren. The author has described how human emotions have become secondary as survival is everyone’s priority. Yet, there are poignant moments involving the right emotions as well. This makes the characters seem as real as they need to be. Of course it is science fiction, so there are a lot of descriptions about how the propellers (are supposed to) work. Not too technical; it sounded pretty straightforward. But my knowledge is limited so I cannot truly say if hardcore physics buffs would find it “believable” even from a fiction point of view.
But where it loses points is, while at some places the brilliant descriptions let you imagine the scenes, there are other places where you simply lose track of what happened or how the character got there. As I do not want to give out any spoilers (it’s not a full length story, after all), I will not give examples of such scenes. But at these points, the reader gets confused and needs a moment to get back into the story.
There are also some questions that seem unanswered at the end of the story. This is possibly because of the parts that have vague descriptions. As this book was originally written in Chinese (Translator: Holger Nahm) I am not sure if anything was lost in translation.
Characters: Could have been explored further than they have been. They seem a little nondescript, even the narrator.
A Quote I Liked: Just as we began our journey, my grandfather passed away, his burnt body ravaged by infection. In his final moments, he repeated over and over, “Oh, Earth, my wandering Earth…”
Rating: 3.5/5
Buy It Here: Amazon
Note: This ebook was sent to me for review by Verbena CW, Editor-in-chief at Beijing Guomi Digital Technology Co. Ltd. This story is a part of a larger collection called The Wandering Earth: The Classic Science Fiction Collection. The story reviewed here is the first of the volume. I will shortly review the other stories as well.
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