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by Baoshu ; translated by Ken Liu

Pub Date: July 16th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-250-30602-9
Publisher: Tor

A strange hybrid of a yarn that seeks to embellish and extend a universe created by another writer—in this case, Cixin Liu's superb Three Body Problem trilogy, which culminated in Death's End (2016).

Baoshu's tale began life as online fan fiction, and it shows in a confusing opening. Trilogy readers will need to recall that a dying Yun Tianming allowed his brain to be captured by an approaching alien Trisolaran fleet. He hoped to trick the invaders, who are constitutionally unable to lie and cannot understand subterfuge. Instead, they trap him in a virtual reality, and eventually, the aliens force him to help them subjugate humanity. Yun survives. Much later, long after both Earth and Trisolaris have been destroyed, a consciousness calling itself the Spirit of the Master arrives. The Spirit needs Yun's help to locate the Lurker, an evil entity that threatens to destroy what's left of the universe. But, as Yun eventually comes to understand, the Spirit's plan involves rewinding everything to zero, followed by another Big Bang and a rerun identical to the current version. And what, Yun wonders, would be the point of that? The entities at odds since the beginning of time bring to mind the creation story in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. The universe-engulfing struggle recalls John C. Wright's astonishing multibook Eschaton saga. And the whole has a transcendental quality that might earn a nod from William Blake. Baoshu writes powerfully about difficult concepts (one such is the self-explanatory "ideabstraction" in Liu's felicitous translation), and his central thesis, involving dimensional collapse as the key to explaining the evolution of the universe, is an absolute stunner. None of this will mean anything, though, unless you're very well-acquainted with the original trilogy.

A narrative that assumes far too much previous knowledge but ultimately finds an identity all its own.