The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu (Science fiction audiobook)

The Wandering Earth contains ten, marvelously imaginative stories about humanity’s future, with China at the center (unusual for us Westerners to read and it definitely has an impact on the story lines).

The premise of each story is intriguing, and I never know where it will lead. I’m usually hooked by the first sentence which is very unusual — Cixin Liu is a tremendous writer, combining hard science fiction with individual reflection and massive socio-cultural settings and impact. Stories ranged from the rescue of the Earth from a dying sun to a simple malware virus turned into a death warrant for humanity to the results of capitalism run rampant (definitely a Chinese view on this one). One story embedded the author and a friend into a key point of the story with hysterical (and simultaneously sobering) results.

This is definitely a science fiction book written from a man’s perspective. The main characters (the ones written with such depth) are all men, and the few female characters fit stereotypes from the 50s — a little dumb, easily led, not a priority, and occasionally vindictive. It didn’t bother me — plenty of books written by women have only two dimensional depictions of stereotyped men — but it’s worth mentioning.

Liu’s political beliefs appear to align with those of the Chinese government which provides an interesting lens through which to read his stories. I believe this is the only Chinese science fiction translated into English that I’ve ever read. Ken Liu translated the Three Body Problem and did a beautiful job. For some reason I can’t seem to find out who translated this one but they, too, did a fantastic job.

The narrator(s) were a tad robotic at times, but that actually fits the stories well, and the reading speed was fast enough for me.

Thank you to MacMillan Audio and NetGalley for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. The book was published on October 12th, 2022.

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