The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu is the second book in his Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. The Three Body Problem was a huge success and it was such a blast to read through! With The Dark Forest, we get a different vibe and flow to the story then in the first but it manages to capture and hold your attention nonetheless. We obviously have to give credit to the translator of the book as without him we probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy this great art of work by Cixin Liu. Although I obviously haven’t read the original work in Chinese, I would say that the translator did a good job in translating the book. The tone and atmosphere matches closely to The Three Body Problem, which was translated by yet another translator. That makes it that much more impressive with what they’ve accomplished altogether.
The previous book introduced the readers as to how Earth as a civilization got to discover Trisolaris. The inevitable invasion of the Trisolarans is now the focus of The Dark Forest and how Earth is planning on tackling the problem that won’t come for another two century. How does one actually prepare for that eventuality? What, if anything, can even be done with the sophons blocking and hampering scientific discovery on Earth so that they won’t be able to advance at a rapid pace to combat the invading Trisolaran fleet two centuries from the present? The Dark Forest focuses more from the humans living on Earth perspective than on the Trisolaran’s themselves. I was actually quite disappointed at this because part of the allure of reading about a whole different civilization in the universe besides our’s is what made The Three Body problem so mysterious and fun. We hardly get any glimpse at all to the Trisolarans here. That in some degree also can be argued that it lends to the mystique of the Trisolarans themselves but I personally would have loved for some, even if little, of the attention to have been focused on the mysterious civilization.
Similar to the first, the difficulties that plague our protagonists and what drives them to make the choices they make is what makes reading this series so enjoyable. The full weight of their choices and decisions made here will have an impact on how Earth’s civilization will be like decades and decades from now and so it goes without saying that there is immense pressure to get things right. While The Dark Forest initially seemed to have lost the mysticism and uniqueness when compared to the first book, I believe it made up for it towards the end with how things proceeded and whatnot. Just like the first, we do get from time to time scientific explanation of things that many of us would not have understood but these are sparse and well spaced out so that it doesn’t weigh the readers down with too much technical jargon and details all at once.
What it boils down to is this: if you’ve read The Three Body Problem, then you’re most likely going to read The Dark Forest and similarly, if you’ve enjoyed the first then you’ll find similar feelings here. What surprised me after having finished The Dark Forest is that the author didn’t leave much motivation for the readers to devour book three, the final in the series, immediately afterwards. In fact, I’m actually debating if I should as I was left quite satisfied with the ending in The Dark Forest. Most of the issues were resolved and so technically the story could have ended right here. However, the main reason why I’m on the fence for the third and final book is that I’m positive the author will go into a lot more details regarding the Trisolarans. Well, at least that’s what I’m hoping for personally! Either way you look at it, The Dark Forest is awesome and can be considered a must-read if you’ve enjoyed The Three Body Problem previously.