“The Dark Forest” is the second in the sci-fi trilogy series “Remembrance of Earth’s Past.”
It portrays a world in frenzy. Preparing for an alien invasion that is scheduled to happen in two centuries. The book is about a world which is preparing itself for a standoff against an alien civilization, more technologically advanced. Which has already sent its’ probes that has delimited the growth of its science (in the first part) and is on its way to reach earth in two hundred years from now.
Now in such scenario what to do – you are safe in your lifetime, for sure. So do you care? Do you just start enjoying your life, for you are bound to be dead anyways long before they arrived. But that’s not how human mind works. It tries, strives, makes effort, struggles, not give up, for we want to win.
The book raises these philosophical question through various characters and how they react to such situation.
The dark forest, being the middle of the trilogy, focus on this part of this story – how the society reacts to such danger.
The war alarms had rung in the first part where all the major actions, twists and turns happened. And the third part will be the one where the main confrontation will happen. This book focuses on the preparation. The slow, tedious process as the world comes around to this reality. And different groups react differently to this danger.
There are people who are worried about their next generations so they are saving money for them. Other are escapists who believe it is better to run away and find refuge in some corner of the galaxy. And then there are others who believe in dying rather than giving in to an enemy.
But the fact that the entire book focuses on this part (which was required) is also a shortcoming. This focus made the book a slow read. Over this Liu Cixin, the writer of this book, tried to pitch in a romantic angle that felt almost Bollywood like with not much bearing on the main story. That part, along with some other details, could have easily been trimmed down to half. It would have shorten the book by ten percent or so that would have made book easier to read.
Given that, the book is good, especially for any sci-fi lover. Its imaginative take on technology in a world that is progressing through a crisis like never before is something that’s worth appreciating. It deals with technological and philosophical challenge of living in such times when there is a wide-spread mania caused by almost certain end of the planet. When everything seems lost. Even then how humanity unites for a cause that will give them nothing, only generations later will be able to harness fruits of their efforts and sacrifices.