Remembrance of Earth’s Past [Book Review]

*** This article contains spoilers for the series. ***

I’ve been working my way through the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy recently. I’m currently on the last book, Death’s End, which is pretty good, but out of the three, I found the least compelling. It’s pretty good so far, but I finished the first and second relatively quickly when I started reading. I’ve been reading the third book in bits and pieces over the course of about a month now.  I think the reason for this is the predecessors all had concrete and interesting premises.

First book: strange murders are happening to scientists, and somehow this online MMO is linked to the killings. One of the top physicists is looking into this game to solve the mystery.

Second book: This random deadbeat is chosen to come up with a plan to stop the impending alien invasion. No one really knows why he’s chosen, but he’s given immense resources by the Earth confederation to do so.

Third book: The guy from the second book succeeded in stopping the alien invasion. Where will the story go from here?

The book is still interesting, but it didn’t grab me because there’s no central mystery to solve, unlike the first and second books. The first book, you wonder what the main character is going to find in this video game he’s playing. The second, you wonder why this guy was chosen and what he’s going to come up with to try to save the earth. The third, you’re wondering how the story’s going to wrap itself up.

Having said that, I still really enjoy the series. Each one has interesting concepts independent of one another. The highlight of the series for me, though, is The Dark Forest. First of all, it has the most interesting premise. Second, I like the main character. Third, it’s also the funniest of the series. Fourth, it quotes Yang Wen-li at one point. That’s one free credibility point right there.

Let’s start with the general premise: the Trisolarans are due to reach the earth a couple of centuries from now, so humanity enacts a plan to combat the aliens using their only perceived advantage over them: their penchant for deceit. Trisolarans for whatever reason are incapable of lying and thus have little understanding of ruses. However, they do have access to machines that can monitor all human activity 24/7. To combat this, humans appoint four guys as “Wall Facers”. These wall facers are given immense resources to come up with battle strategies to counter the Trisolaran threat. Each wall facer has to clandestinely formulate a plan to counteract the impending invasion while simultaneously performing their actions in plain sight of the Trisolarans. It’s like 4d chess at its finest.

On to the second point: Luo Ji. I really like this guy. He’s a layabout who shirks his responsibilities. He just wants to live his life in comfort. I can empathize with that. After all, this guy has his priorities straight: what’s the point in living if you can’t enjoy your life? What works is how outlandish this guy is. He’s one of the few individuals on Earth that has nigh unlimited resources and given responsibility for the fate of mankind. What does he do? He spends this time looking for his waifu, used in the classical sense. He literally visualizes his absolute dream girl and uses his unlimited resources to find someone who fits her description to a tee. He then uses the same resources to seduce her in his mountain villa. There’s a great scene where he orders his lackeys to purchase some recently unearthed vintage wine that would be worth a significant sum. Of course, he just wants to drink it, but because his orders are supposed to be intentionally inscrutable, he purchases it under the pretense of it all being part of his master plan. Of course, his lackeys know he’s just a mooch, but because of his status they can do nothing but grumble.

I’m working my way through the third book right now, but it’s less focused on individual characters which makes it harder for me to get invested. I’ll post an updated review on the series when I’m done.