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.

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Film: The Wandering Earth

Caught this on Netflix the other night, which was a happy coincidence because I’d just read the short story it was based on. It’s also the title of the collection it was taken from, written by the fabled SciFi author Lui Cixin (one each story is a gem in its own right). The film became the second highest-grossing movie ever produced in China a few weeks after its release.

For a short story, it’s ambition is breath-taking. In the near-future, the sun is nearing the end of its life and is about to expand into a red giant and engulfing the solar system. In an attempt to escape annihilation, the human race comes together and embarks on a desperate bid for survival. The plan is, to say the least … big:

thousands of engines, each one bigger than Everest, are constructed around the world; they’re used to halt the planet’s rotation (this alone takes forty years and kills off almost half the population) before the planet begins its journey to a new solar system … a journey that’ll take 2500 years.

The story is brilliant: the film slightly less so. Much of the story had been changed and it lost a lot of the gritty despair and soaring sense of hope along the way. I felt the characters were perhaps a little less complex than they should have been, and though the special effects were worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster, I felt that the film still missed out on the grandeur of the original story.

It could just be that I shouldn’t read the story and then watch the movie straight afterwards. Or it could be that the film just wasn’t the same as the movie I’d built inside my head.

Nevertheless, it was creditable effort in bringing a Science-Fiction masterpiece to the big screen, and at the end of the day, I actually did enjoy it.

Six out of ten.