Book review: The Wandering Earth

Nope, not a repeat: I reviewed the movie a few weeks back; the film was based on the title story from the book. We have eleven stories in all, each one a sci-fi master piece exploring mind-bending ideas that span thousands of years and affect billions of lives. Along the way, science and the physics can get a bit complex, but nothing that detracts from the pace and quality of the writing, and overall, the detail brings a certain amount of realism to the stories, enough to make you think: ‘Jesus, what if this actually happens?’, but not enough to give you a migraine. The pacing varies quite a lot from story to story, but nothing speeds up or slows down unexpectedly, and it does let you take a break for a few days to recover from what you’ve just read. But what really makes the story (indeed, any story) are the characters.

Liu’s are not always smart, not always nice, but they’re always believable and consistent. The aliens are sometimes a little simplistic in my opinion, but I think you’re trying to pack several thousand years into a short story, then not everyone can get equal scripting. Still, focussing on a handful of characters caught up in a notion that affects billions works really well: you get the same sense of scale, without the individuals getting lost in a massive plot.

So is there anything I didn’t like about the book? Well, nothing I could precisely lay a finger on really, but sometimes I did think that the author’s faith in the human race was a little bit … optimistic.

Take the Wandering Earth for example: great story, breath-taking vision, but the idea that all the governments of the world would come together for an engineering project that would essentially relocate the planet to a different solar system … it’s the ‘coming together’ part that I had to work hard to get over. The world can’t even agree to do something about a global catastrophe that’s just around the corner. Would they really come together and move a planet for something that wasn’t due to happen for hundreds of years. Not really an indictment against the author, just the human race I guess.

I did wonder though, if this was an example of how our upbringing and background affects the way we write a story. Perhaps the author grew up in a society where this kind of co-operation is possible due to the way that society is structured. Not sure all of them are built the same way.

Still, an outstanding piece of work, and easily worth ten out of ten.

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