Cixin Liu, To Hold Up The Sky (2020)

Author: Cixin Liu

Title: To Hold Up The Sky

Format: E-book

Pages: 336

Series: –

Liu’s short story collection comes in the wake of his breakthrough success with the award-winning The Three-Body Problem. Translated by several translators (none of which was Ken Liu, who translated The Three-Body Problem, and Ican’t help but wonder if politics wasn’t the reasond for that) To Hold Up the Sky offers 11 diverse stories spanning near and far future of our own reality; their main common point seems to be their prominent focus on China and a strong undercurrent of Chinese nationalism. As usual with short stories collections, I’ll review each story separately and give a composite score at the end.

The Village Teacher 0/10

I’d give it 0/10 if I could. Oh, wait, you know what? I can.

Over a quarter century after the collapse of the USSR I never expected to read such a prime example of soc-realist fiction fresh off the publishing press. The primitivity of this story is simply staggering on every level: from the utterly two-dimensional character of the martyr to knowledge – the selfless village teacher bravely giving his life in the heroic quest to teach little kids the Newton’s laws of motion on his death bed in the mountain shed serving as a classroom – to the cosmic conflict between the good carbon-based life-forms who live peacefully in a Federation and the bad silicone-based life-forms who formed a bloodthirsty Empire… Having read both the Polish positivist literature (Orzeszkowa’s ABC vividly comes to mind, and that’s a horrific memory of sickly good intentions married to a total inability to write) and the USSR bestseller and soc-realist opus magnum Story of the Real Man by the Hero of Socialist Labor Boris Polevoy I’ve been scarred for life already. But this… This was even worse. Much, much worse. Polevoy’s book was actually interesting, if you stripped it of the Soviet propaganda – maybe because it was based on a true story. Here? Nothing makes sense.

The Time Migration 1/10

A sickly sweet, unbelievable happy ending belatedly tacked on a nihilistic philosophical story about how humanity is bad and how its progress will eventually lead to its self-inflicted demise. While the main arc at least tried to introduce some ideas about the relationship between humanity and its environment, the conclusion was at once predictable and nonsensical, serving only some vague aim of ending on a positive note. Extremely heavy-handed, populated with cardboard representations of roles (not people, just positions), it reads like a juvenile piece dug out from a drawer after several decades. It should have been left in that drawer.

2018-04-01 5/10

Immortality is costly, and inducive to crime. Love is a mirage of convenience; the only love one can find in life is self-love, and if you’re criminally-minded enough, you can have an eternity of it. The characters are still paper-thin, but at least the story breaks the mold a little and in its depressing depiction of egoism feels more honest than Time Migration.

Fire in the Earth 0/10

Gaaah! This was an even worse example of soc-realist blather. The “Salt of the earth” people, the simple, down to earth blue-collar workers, are by definition inherently good and wise with the accumulated wisdom of life leaching through the soles of their shoes from the land on which they ceaselessly toil (even if they remain corrupt and inane) whereas the educated city slickers bring only woe and tragedy with their high-minded hubris and egoistic inventions. The egotistic educated fops get their just deserts, and only after justice is served can we get a happy ending. I can’t help but find similarities between this story’s attitude toward the value and uniqueness (or their lack) of an individual life and the ultimate message of Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002). In this worldview human life is just the necessary grease for the collective progress.

Contraction 8/10

A very cool, short story which doesn’t make any scientific sense according to our current knowledge, but is highly enjoyable, nonetheless. I really liked Liu’s consistency in taking the story to its end. An interesting take on the possible (no longer, really, but that’s not the point) future end of the universe. Can’t say anything else if I want to keep it spoiler-free.

Mirror 0/10

Another 0/10. Utterly nonsensical from the scientific standpoint, but what really infuriated me was its ideological content. The utterly corrupt, ruthless middle echelon Chinese bureaucrats (very intelligent, because of course they studied physics before they became politicians) are ultimately sacrificing their lives for the idea of individual freedom – contrary to the fanatical Christian Harvard professor who reinvents the Big Brother in his misguided crusade against sin. Yes, the last scene actually depicts said professor kissing the silver cross on his breast. It is ironic, really (well, admittedly I could only appreciate it after I got rid of the foam from my mouth) that in Liu’s aptly named story it’s the West that doesn’t understand the value of individual freedom. I’d argue Liu should turn this Mirror on the Chinese state: the Uighurs, the Nepalese, the Taiwanese would have a lot to say to him, I imagine. Plus, I cannot help but notice how the Christian elements of this story play into wider current Chinese politics with regards to Christianity. A really illuminating piece of propaganda.

Ode to Joy 1/10

Humanity is so at odds with itself that heads of states decide to disband UN. Fortunately for humans, during the ceremony a gigantic Mirror appears above the Earth, claiming to be a musician playing on stars and deciding it’s time to give a concert. Turning Alpha Centauri into a supernova seems to do the trick and humans give UN a second chance. There are several interesting elements in this story: for example, only the Chinese president seems observant enough to notice Southern Hemisphere constellations above New York, but later, inexplicably, every head of state turns out to be a closet astrophysicist and has some remark to add to the discussion with the Mirror. I also noted down a quote that to me seems particularly revealing:

“When a civilization travels far enough on the road of time, individual and collective both disappear.”

In most SF that I read, this blurring and ultimate annihilation of the division between individual and collective is a cause for serious concern and more often than not a mark of the ultimate villainy – see Asher, or Reynolds (though the latter not entirely, but that’s a different discussion), or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or so many other Western examples, really. Here, it’s the mark of inevitable progress, the only possible road to power and knowledge. I could seriously start dissecting this worldview as a radical variation of the mythical worldview rooted in the human need of belonging to something greater, as Kolakowski put it, and start analyzing it from the perspective of the modern Chinese aggressive nationalism – but this is just a book review, not a sociological essay. Interestingly enough, the Mirror speaks in the first person. Talk about schizophrenia.

Full-Spectrum Barrage Jamming 0/10

Unbelievable. A solemn tribute to the heroic Russian soldiers whose Motherland has been invaded by NATO (!) because Russian democratic elections (!!) had been won by the Communist party. The brave Russians die with their PhDs and poetic verses on their lips, while their lovers in the Russian space station find a happy convergence between their patriotic duty and their doomed love and blast into the Sun, plunging Earth back into the Stone Age (or Bayonet Age, to be more precise). The last scene depicts NATO invaders (ruthless Americans and cowardly French) being overwhelmed by the human-and-tank tide of Russians. I especially loved the reference to the Vietnam War as it’s my area of study. Let’s be frank here: I have nothing good to say about the American involvement in Vietnam, and quite a lot of very bad things; but here it seems that the author has subconsciously treated Vietnam as Chinese/Russian territory, as a result completely forgetting that it’s its own nation-state, that it fell under the Communist Chinese influence as a result of the Vietnam War and not all of Vietnam (not even the majority of it) welcomed said Communist influence (in the form of an invasion from the North) with open arms – on the contrary.

Sea of Dreams 4/10

Another alien entity, inspired by Earth ice sculptures, takes away all Earth’s water to create a superior work of art. Once the sculpture is finished, it disappears, leaving humans to deal with their upcoming waterless deaths. Fortunately, the adversity brings humanity together and a rescue plan is devised and enacted, proving that will and need can trump technological advancement… Umm, should we look for hidden meanings? No need, Liu spells some of them out for us in capital letters:

“The existence of individuals is also a troublesome part of infant civilizations. Later, individuals melt into the whole. There’s no society or politics as such.”

Oh, well, yes: this again. Thanks, but NO.

Cloud of Poems 7/10

A totally bonkers story about a hollowed-out (well, reconstituted, really) Earth, a dinosaur empire breeding humans like cattle for food, an alien consciousness downloaded to a human clone, and a poetry challenge resulting in an absolute annihilation of the Solar system. As an adventure story it is quite entertaining, as a showcase of imagination – even better. Forgive me if after so many aggressively nationalistic stories I look at the attempt to prove the universal superiority of Chinese poetry with a somewhat jaded eye.

The Thinker 9/10

Star-crossed lovers from different walks of life bonding over the discovery that stars in the universe communicate like neurons in a brain. A lovely, melancholy story that touchingly underscores the tragic shortness of human life span and the wonderful miracle of consciousness. If you need proof that Liu can actually write something that is not a primitive propaganda piece, you need not look any further. I were to read one Liu’s story, that would be it.

That was one rough ride. The only undeniable positive coming from this mostly harrowing experience is that because I was able to consider it as an anthropological case study I became more interested in Chinese culture and socio-political situation. But judging Liu’s collection on purely literary merits, as a whole it can get only one score from me (unweighted mean is a bit higher, 3/10, but my overall experience was definitely worse than that):

Score: 2/10

I have received a copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks.

60 thoughts on “Cixin Liu, To Hold Up The Sky (2020)

  1. When someone like Correia writes pro-American stuff, he’s called a bigot, a danger to society and a racist. I suspect I’ll be looking long and hard before ever seeing something like that said about this collected set of works.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I’m absolutely happy to call Correia a bigot and an American nationalist, not because he’s pro-American – I’m totally fine with that – but because what I read by him (the first MHI and some of his rants) is very much anti-everything else. There is a fine line between being proud of something and being hateful/denigrating toward otherness. I just consider it fair and right to apply the same rule to all 😛
      But yes – I read lots of reviews of this collection, and there were only tiny squeaks here and there about the rampant negative stereotyping, about too much politics etc. I don’t know, maybe it’s my experience with Soviet-era propaganda that makes me sensitive to this as I see the method behind the words. If you take it separately, at face value, maybe it’s not that noticeable, I don’t know. But really, to me it was such a slog to get through this book, I was close to DNFing it about a dozen times. I’m glad I didn’t, though – the one really great story is at the very end.

      Btw, the first version of this review disappeared from my computer completely after it mysteriously crashed! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

        1. No. I’m actually as surprised by that recent spat of political stuff on our blog as you are. I just want to review books. But the books I’m getting for review are increasingly more politicized even when I choose what I think is a straight SF!

          Fortunately, there are a few upcoming reviews that won’t be political – maybe I’ll even get to review Dune at long last 😉

          And maybe it’s time to go back to some older stuff in general – it was somehow less political even in the middle of dramatic social and political changes – but the why of it beats me.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Oh, thank goodness!

            I asked because I’m hyper aware of this and am always afraid of my own posts becoming too political and so I see it, and sometimes magnify it my own mind, on others’ blogs.

            I hadn’t made the connection of the books themselves being more political but now that you write that, there is no way I’m ever going to be unthink it.

            Quick, drag me off to Space Gulag for wrongthink! 😉

            Liked by 2 people

            1. In the Space Gulag there already is a bunk with your name on it! 😜

              Yeah, I know what you mean. There’s so much politics around, and to be fair there probably always was a good deal of that – but nowadays it seems much more divisive, and because of that much more visible: there’s rarely any middle ground left. I feel like we as readers/bloggers are left with a choice: we can either ignore it and pretend it’s not there, and just try to find entertainment in our books, or we can react to it, and then our blogs become politicized even against our wishes 😉 Or we can just go back to reading classics and older books (which is what I plan to do in the nearest future)! 😁

              Liked by 3 people

          1. At the top of the blog, in the header, there is the political leader (of Poland I think?) with some sort of red lightning bolt crossing her out. I’m pretty sure Ola did a post about it in the recent past.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder how you managed to not DNF it. There was a winner at the end, and you were correct to continue, of course. But it must have felt mightily frustrating to read through this.
    I weakly remember some pieces of UdSSR literature which made feel like vomiting after all that time (nothing special here, same can be said about some US literature).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was sustained by the thought of this acerbic review 😁 And as I said to Bookstooge, the original version of this review mysteriously disappeared from my computer (completely, without a trace) after it equally mysteriously crashed 😉

      Yeah, exactly. This kind of propaganda evokes the USSR vibes for me mostly because it is so blunt and heavy-handed; but Liu’s aggressive and unpalatable politicking is increasingly becoming not an exception but the rule for the current SFF crop… I’ve had so many bad books recently mostly because, IMO, people writing them focus more on the political message than on the actual content: plot, characters, world, etc. It happened even with a non-fiction art book, of all things!

      But this one was by far the worst. I really couldn’t believe my eyes. And it’s painful when you see that Liu can actually write not only that primitive propaganda stuff but also some intriguing, thought-provoking, lovely stories.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t have that feeling of politics creeping into the genre more than it did in the past. Maybe the messages for LGBTQIA are heavy handed sometimes. But that’s not what you’re talking about , right?
        Remember the puppies? It might be a counter reaction to them.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, Correia comes back with a vengeance in this discussion 😉 You may be right that it’s just the pendulum swinging the other way; or maybe it’s the sudden heightened divisiveness of this all that bugs me – or maybe just the fact that I read more current SFF than ever before thanks to NetGalley and I don’t have the sounding board of years of other reviews before I try a new book. I just feel it’s cropping up everywhere I look, to the detriment of the books themselves. As I wrote in the discussion about Bear Head – if I wanted to read about politics, pure and simple, I’d choose a political essay in Foreign Affairs, NYT, Guardian, WP, Politico etc. At least people writing there are professionals at what they do and have their views formed, changed and tempered in constant discussion and revision and reality feedback. Whereas in fiction, the end result is usually deeply flawed – either the rushed political declarations or the literary aspects just suck. The enduring works from 60s or 70s or 80s are still often political, but it’s the tying of the politics to universal values that gives them validity even in our times. My last reads are largely ephemeral – one day here, forgotten the next.

          But here I can’t help to view Liu’s collection as something that was most probably intended for the Chinese market only – the style, the message, the heavy propaganda peppered with almost absurd and unabashedly negative stereotypes all point toward this conclusion. And that gets me to the last point I want to make here: from reading perspective it was a nightmare; but from anthropological, cultural perspective it was enlightening.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. That’s the danger of ARCs or of reading current books. You don’t really know what you get. Sometimes it’s safer to rely on the filtering through the masses of readers and see what’s passed through.
            Some authors are no less professional than NYT etc writers – KSR or Stephenson to name only two. I guess, their views are far more compatible to yours than Liu’s (I shudder everytime reading that name because I love Ken Liu’s stories).
            It’s not the political message but the unexpected sloppy and controversial political opinion that’s problematic for me.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yup, definitely – I’m learning this to my chagrin 😉
              As to the professionalism – I think we differ in our definitions of politics. I believe that every SF contains political content, and I’m fine with it, I even appreciate it and read some of the books for this particular aspect. But KSR or Stephenson 1) spend years preparing their arguments and 2) politics is present in their stories as an undercurrent only, in the form of a worldview underlying their world and characters. You can agree with the choices the characters make but nobody’s preaching over your ear and nobody bludgeons you to death with opinions presented as truth.
              Sure, I’m infinitely closer to the views of KSR and Stephenson than Cixin Liu’s. But the problem here is that comparing KSR or Stephenson to this Liu makes no sense at all, personal political compatibility or not. Liu’s stories read like a propaganda pamphlet, leaving no space for the reader to come up with their own conclusions or thoughts.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Ok I have no intention to read Chinese propaganda. The more I hear about that state and its disregard for the individual and the lying and pushing on the world stage, the more I feel like throwing up.

    I quite liked the Three Body Problem series. But in that series too, the characters were sometimes very simple, very cardboard.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that was a surprise; but when I got to think about it some more I thought I shouldn’t really be surprised. China is moving on the international scene quite a lot; and its ambitions are frighteningly far-reaching. I feel like some of these stories were meant mostly for the internal scene though – hence the open, aggressive propaganda and the worldview that I came to associate with collective cultures like China.

      Yes, that’s another problem – nearly all characters are very one-dimensional and basically have no character at all, just a role to fill.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, after seeing how much you loved it on goodreads, I didn’t have high hopes for this. And… yeah. I’ve read enough Chinese propaganda in my life already, thanks.

    But I will say that it’s really hard to write a story from the perspective of a dutiful state worker without it being listed propaganda. Unless they decide to turn in the end. Or gain “clarity”.

    I’d like to make a case for the Mirror deserving a rating of at least 1/10, maybe even 1.5. I mean, it seems like you found it illuminating, and it doesn’t sound all terrible other than the fact that you hated and disagreed with everything about it 😂

    Oh good lord, now it sounds like I’m defending communism. Greeeaat…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hmm good point about the dutiful state worker. We had several works (movies, books) on that topic in Poland pre-1989 and indeed, the development of the characters was toward realization that what they’ve believed in was mostly a lie. I do wonder if I know a book that goes all the way and is not propagandist… Part of the issue lies obviously in how it’s used 😉

      My goodness, Mirror! I did love the idea, even if it’s bonkers and totally implausible. I was even ready to swallow the whole “ruthless, utterly corrupt bureaucrat with conscience and amazing knowledge of physics” thing – till I read the end. I just can’t stand that nasty hateful scapegoat thing.

      Hah, no worries, I’m from Europe! We have a bit different approach to Communism in general than you Americans 🤣 No McCarthy here! 😁


  5. It seems like we read two different books, and this was strange (but in a good kind of way!).
    When I read this book the political element fly by me completely (ok, almost completely, in a couple of stories I have saw that, I can be blind and oblivious, but not so blind!!), but, for example, I enjoyed the first stories because my attention was on the way he inserts the sci-fi elements to the stories. The first one is the better example, because for a good chunk of it, it is just a sort of depressing story that kept me wondering (not always in a good way) “why I am reading this?” “why is this one in a sci-fi collection?” and then the twist, sort of. And I appreciated it quite a lot. My attention was captured by the way he narrates the stories, and I didn’t pay too much attention to the rest (even if I am with you about the characters, I don’t think there is one in there that is well done, they all are not… Well developed or interesting enough or “real”). So even if I didn’t love this book, my experience with it was more positive than yours, but then your review made me think, and looking back at it, I have to say that you are totally right about it all!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Susy!
      I might be more sensitive to this stuff having been exposed to USSR propaganda before – I am a bit allergic to it, I admit freely ;).

      I don’t regret reading this, I’m content that I was able to get a taste of the other Liu’s writing, and I even might read The Three-Body Problem one day (but not too soon ;)) – but when I see such blatant propaganda I can’t help but point it out 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. piotrek

    I’ve read a sample of Soviet, and Polish, soc-realism, and I’m not tempted by this… I’m not surprised, I consider myself warned, and I doubt Liu added anything interesting to the set of propaganda tropes that would make this worth my time…
    It’s sad how the history repeats itself, and I hope Chinese propaganda will not prevail in the long run. But they invest much more money in that than the Soviets ever did, it’s scary.
    What I would like to read is something honest about the struggle between nationalistic pride, party tyranny and individualism of a good artist… genre or not.
    I’ve seen some great Chinese movies, low budget and brutal in their depiction of the Chinese society, I’m sure there are books that go even deeper, a thing to research at some point.

    Should we try to be less political? Heh, it’s hard, these days, and turning to classics is one way to go. But there was always a lot of politics in literature, perhaps not as overt…

    I would like for politics to be a safe topic for discussion, to discuss issues that come to my mind when I think about what I’ve read – without the discussion becoming partisan. But I’m getting more and more partisan myself, I have to admit. I will try not to get political too often. That, this might an achievable compromise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ha, ha. I’ve also read theories of this:

    ““The existence of individuals is also a troublesome part of infant civilizations. Later, individuals melt into the whole. There’s no society or politics as such.”

    Oh, well, yes: this again. Thanks, but NO.”

    What would breed more vain dumping of outcries of individuality more than the stripping of creativity and individuality from society completely? Just that my dear Watson, just that.

    I’ve been curious about this author, so thanks for the heads up. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome 😉
      Yeah, this view is so curious: for the Western cultural sphere this loss of individuality is something abhorrent, generally speaking; but for many cultures outside of that sphere, which grow from the idea that the collective is more important than the individual, this seems as the desired end-point. I need to read up on this, my knowledge about it might be a bit outdated 😉


  8. I’m glad there are some books you read so the rest of us don’t have to, Ola! Sometimes bad is good (if you see what I mean) but overall this sounds like the dark side of bad…

    On books and reviews of those books being political: surely we can’t ever avoid that, can we? Politics, whether with a big or a small ‘p’, is about a philosophical view of society and its interplay with the individual and the environment, and much literature is essentially about that interplay in one form or another. If much literature these days (or at least that which I choose to read) is left of centre, if we’re talking party politics, it also tends to veer towards compassion and the notion of personal responsibility. If it somehow makes a virtue of collectivism or, worse, autocracy, I can’t see myself finding much succour or enjoyment in that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re very welcome, Chris! 😀

      Yes, this book has brought back some dark memories…

      Totally agree: we can’t ever be apolitical, since politics is the keystone of public life – even in primates. The phenomenon we’ve been discussing and noticing lately is that the politics we see in our books are much more pronounced, not just as philosophical undertone, but as a key element of the structure, and they tend to be much more divisive than before, showing everything in stark contrast between good and bad, light and dark. Combative politics assured of its own right is what I don’t want to see in my speculative fiction – for in those books there is no space for speculation left: just dogma.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dogma in any form in fiction is anathema to me (yes, I’m aware of the irony of me as an atheist using a religious term to characterise another concept with religious associations): that’s why I’m leery of allegory, especially when it’s heavy handed.

        Even overtly humanistic fiction troubles me: while I generally accept that — adapting Alexander Pope’s phrase ‘The proper study of Mankind is Man’ — the principal subject of fiction is other humans, those humans should be as flawed as the rest of us are, never idealised or else they stray into dogmatic territory.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I understand how the cultural interest in these stories managed to help you forge through this collection, but the low overall rating is far from encouraging – and I also tend to run away from soapbox preaching, no matter what the subject of that preaching is…
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for reading, Maddalena! 🙂
      I’m told that Liu’s The Three-Body Problem is much better; and even his previous short story collection is better than this. This one, though, I cannot recommend for anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. OH BOY. Well um, at least there were two stories that were a lot better than the rest? 😀 I’m not super familiar with USSR propaganda beyond the stuff I learned in school, from other people, etc, but I personally have zero patience for stories that explore Japanese nationalism as this great, momentous thing, so I can imagine how teeth-pulling reading this book must have been ugh. I have to think Three Body Problem is more… palatable considering -squints- Barack Obama blurbed it?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Happy New Year to you too, Kathy, and welcome back!!! 😀🍾
        For a while there I was afraid that we’ve seen the last of you in blogging – I’m very happy this is not the case! Good luck! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, I did see that Obama blurb, and what really made me pause was that he said it was “wildly imaginative…” In the light of what I’ve read in To Hold Up The Sky this blurb seems like a two-edged sword! 🤣🤣🤣
      But yeah, I’ll read The Three-Body Problem one day – it seems like it’s a much better book than this.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently most of them were written over a decade ago, according to Liu’s own intro to the collection (available on Tor’s page). One of the reviews claimed these are the ones that didn’t make the cut for the Wandering Earth collection – there might be something in this claim, too. Some of the stories do read like very early pieces, and some others seem like something intended only for the Chinese market… I can see how his non-political stories can be great, though: The Thinker is a really wonderful story – but it’s the only one here.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, I’m really baffled. But what really stupefies me is that nobody in the reviews even makes a peep that it’s such a blatant propaganda – everyone is oh so very careful around that, saying it has some political aspects etc. I feel like that child in The Emperor’s New Clothes… 😉


            1. It has nothing to do with racism, though, as you well know. You think it’s just blanket denial, for fear of being accused of racism/nationalism/ethnocentrism/any other -ism? You might be right, unfortunately.


                1. Makes sense. Well, I’ll probably read The Three-Body Problem at some point, just to check if it’s any better than this. Or maybe Wandering Earth collection, not sure if I can manage such a condensed measure of Liu I imagine his novel to be 😅


  11. Well then. This has to be the first time that I’ve seen so many 0s in a collection/anthology! I’m surprised you didn’t give up after the 3rd 0 or something. You’re a hopeful optimistic deep down aren’t you? 😀 I did read Ball Lightning when it was released and was soooooooooooooooooo confused by how bad this guy writes his characters. They’re lifeless! Unfortunately, I had already gotten my hands on the Three-Body Problem but I can’t seem to find any motivation to check that trilogy out knowing that this dude loves his hard science but fails to balance it out with likable characters!!! 😮 Great honest review as always, Ola! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I actually am a hopeful optimist, and even an idealist! 😊
      Yup, totally agree: his ability to write interesting characters is zero, at least based on this short story collection 😜 That said, I’ll probably read The Three-Body Problem at some point, just to see if it’s more like the majority of these stories (i.e. incredibly bad) or like the last story (really, really good)!

      Thanks, Lashaan! 😀


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