Remembrance of Earth’s Past by Cixin Liu

I can’t recommend Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of the Earth’s past-series high enough. Now, i do have ties to China (my wife’s chinese) and as such, i’m quite interested in reading chinese novels, wuxia or otherwise, and it saddens me that it is so difficult to buy these things in paper-form. You can read fan-translated versions on the net in droves, but really professional publishings are rare. And if something’s available, it can set you back a ridiculous amount of money (60€ for a book). So i was quite happy when i discovered the first in Cixin Liu’s series, The Three-body problem. It won more than just one award, it was translated and it was available on Audible.

Here’s the blurb:

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

The Cultural Revolution serves as an introduction and i think it explains why someone would behave in a manner like that woman who gets into contact with the aliens does – she ignores a warning from one friendly alien and sets up humanity for extinction by giving away the existence and position of Earth. There’s another twist here: it will take the aliens 400 years to reach earth, so there is time to react to the threat. Unfortunately, much earlier, so-called “sophons” arrive and limit human research by way of messing things up with experiments like the particle accelerator. So we can make progress in currently available technologies but can’t develop new ones and it’s quite obvious that the aliens are superior and will almost certainly win the war.

It is an interesting and new take on the quite common “aliens invade earth” theme, and even from the point of view of a different- chinese- culture, which is good, because “non-western” views on topics like that tend to be surprising. And this one is- it’s not very heroic- many humans will believe in defeat and think about escape, if they think at all, and there’s even an organization that welcomes human extinction. It’s an interesting mind-game that’s very enjoyable to read/listen to.

One thing of note: i don’t know why, but i’m really having trouble with many english audiobooks. With the exception of Roy Dotrice, who reads the Song of Ice and Fire books, i find it very hard to follow most narrators because they are reading quite flat and emotionless. It took hours before i got used to the narrator here and started to notice differences in voicing different characters or moods. I’d really rather read, but these days, it’s much easier for me to listen to audiobooks instead.

This week, i listened to the second book of the series- The Dark Forest, and i’m glad to see that the author maintains the quality of the first one. The third and final book will release in english this year and i’m really looking forward to the conclusion- so if you like that kind of sci-fi, i really recommend you pick it up.

Friday Quick Notes

This Blog

I think that i’ve found the right Theme to go with on this blog, so i’m going to start building up the “features” here. Overall, i’d like to:

  • make the Home Page more appealing and more magazine-like. I’ve begun doing this, but right now it seems a bit pointless, of course, as i’ve only published 6 posts for now. With more posts being online, there will come more customization- i’ll simply have to figure it out on the fly
  • publish, publish and publish. I’m not going to import my posts from the old blog- i’ll just leave it as it is and start building up here. Therefore, i’d like to write and publish more to build a solid base of posts.
  • build a character page instead of the current Group Up – page
  • build a separate contact page
  • create a real menu to allow easy navigation through the page
  • venture into different topics: books, movies, tv-series, maybe even life. This site isn’t just about MMORPGs anymore. I’ll see if i can figure out a way for readers to opt in (or out) of certain topics; maybe by providing categorized feeds. Right now, there’s not much happening on that front- while i’m watching and reading something, i’ll have to wait to write something about it.

Gaming

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Elder Scrolls Online

I still need to “finish” Grahtwood. The Quest Achievement is done, now i’ll go and look for Caves, Skyshards and maybe Bosses. Tonight we’ll be heading to Rkindaleft, one of two open-world shared dungeons in Wrothgar.

There are also plans for two additional characters (maybe three): i’d like to try and build a Templar that is mainly DPS, but also somewhat capable of tanking and healing- a true hybrid reminiscient of the gameplay-feeling i had playing a Druid <level 30 in early WoW. This idea was inspired by Xannziee’s post about her favourite character. The other one i’m trying to create is a leech healer, possibly a Nightblade. I’m still trying to figure out the details- do i change things up a bit by laying them in another alliance since grouping between alliances will become easier in Thieves Guild? Or do i go all-in for the Aldmeri Dominion; to be able to enter Cyrodiil at will with my guildies?

The third character will be a Dragonknight- i’m still trying to figure out what kind of build i’d like- the only thing i really know is that i want to have one character in each armor type- light, medium, heavy. I guess my Templar “Battle Priest” / “Cleric” will become Heavy, advisable or not- the Leech Healer / Blood Mage will wear Light Armor and the Dragonknight will come in Medium Armor.

And why would i want more characters? Mostly because of the crafting, to be honest. I think that 2 or 3 crafting professions per character are a good amount for casual players, to avoid crafting slowing me down even more, but also because i’d like to experiment a bit and see what the other classes can do. In the end, i’ll also want to create a Sorcerer, but deciding for a direction there is even harder.

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The Secret World

Speaking of Leech Healers- i’ll build one in TSW, too. I think one of my characters has begun to take that direction anyway, and she’s early in the game. I’ve tried it two more times, but i can’t seem to get into my former main anymore- it’s been so long that i feel lost whenever i log her in. But i’d like to play TSW again, mainly as a solo venture, and i’ve found it frustrating to try and find my way with the main. I’ll take a casual approach here, but i do want TSW to become a regular game i play.

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Black Desert Online

The CBT2 is underway and i was able to create a character and log into one of the channels and see the very first steps in the game. It’s too early to form an opinion, of course. For now, i was surprised that there are “channels” to choose from- what do i have to do in order to find the friends i’d like to play it with? Do we have to choose one channel or are players able to interact regardless?

Cities: Skylines – Snowfall

The best city-builder out there has just released a new expansion- Snowfall. There’s new weather effects in old map types (rain, fog), there are Trams now and there are “winter zones”. All in all, it looks like a good update and i’ll buy in as soon as i get the urge to build a city again.

Other Media

A quick overview about things i’m watching/reading right now:

  • picked up watching The Walking Dead again- i think we haven’t watched since our son was born, so we’re way back in Season 4 right now. I like it so far, but i’ve found some slower episode in the middle of the season quite boring, actually. I’ll write up more about that when we’ve finished the season.
  • watched Mad Max: Fury Road and actually don’t want to waste too much time on it to write a review- i’d rate it 6/10…maybe. I did like the action…somewhat, but it all seemed a bit shallow for my taste.
  • i’m currently reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and like it very much. Thing is, i don’t get much reading-time in nowadays, especially if it’s a real-paper-book, so it’s slow going. Here’s the blurb: “The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls.”
  • i find much more time listening to stuff. I finished listening to The three-body problem by Liu Cixin – it’s chinese sci-fi where humans find out that another civilization is on its way to conquer earth- but it’ll take them 400 years to get here. I’d give this a general 7/10 and a genre-related 9/10, it was interesting to listen to and i’m very much looking forward to listen to The Dark Forest as soon as i can.