The Dark Forest

By: Liu Cixin

In The Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion - in just four centuries' time. The aliens' human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth's defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead.

Auuster's Takeaway

As with the first book, The Three Body Problem, the story is phenomenal. The story continues where the first book left off, approximately 4.21 light-years between the Trisolarian fleet and Earth. Sophons are still present on Earth, they are present as surveillance to the Trisolarians. In order to prepare Earth against the invaders, the Planetary Defence Council (PDC) announced the Wallfacer project. Five wallfacers would be given unlimited resources to prepare for the Trisolarian invasion. Their plans will be kept in total secrecy (only kept to themselves), so the Trisolarians would not know of their plan. The story then follows the Wallfacers which are eventually met by their “Wallbreakers”. These are people who analyze the Wallfacer’s actions and bright their plan to light. All Wallfacer plans are eventually exposed except for the Chinese candidate, Luo Ji. He devised the “Dark Forest Deterrence System” that threatened to eliminate Trisolaris by exposing their position to other planets.

Now the story itself is a bit more complicated as it goes through the preparations and failures of each Wallfacer. Each Wallfacer has their own backstory and their solution was derived from their history, I hope to go into more detail about that later. Another interesting thing is that Liu Cixin has considered how society reacts to these scenarios. For example, in the start the Wallfacer program is a desperate attempt to protect human civilization. After LuoJi awakens from hibernation many years later, there is sentiment that the invaders will be defeated by the newly built earth space fleet. This sentiment was quickly lost as an unmanned spacecraft “the teardrop” ripped through the entire fleet upon first contact. Through each step, the author creatively crafted a societal response to triumphs and losses. Additionally, the author considered technological advancements. A part of the story was devoted to the development engines that enabled faster travelling ships. As LuoJi awoken from hibernation, he was awoken in a massive underground city, with touch screens as walls and robotic waiters.