“Every era puts invisible shackles on those who lived in it, and I can but dance in my chains.”
Outstanding. The best hard science fiction I’ve read this year. Liu wrote it eight years ago in China, but the story translates—literally and figuratively—very well. Great world building and historical/cultural tie-ins to this world. Plenty of math and science to geek out on, yet many historical and value hooks as well. “By the time you’re my age, you’ll realize that everything you once thought mattered so much turns out to matter very little.”
Spoiler: a very different kind of first contact story. I love it. “Anything sufficiently weird must be fishy.”
Quibbles: The translation was transparent except for a few word choices. First, I believe what was translated as “evolutionary” problem solving was more correctly called Heuristic problem solving. “Entropy” is used referring to information density; it really relates to disorder or, if anything, information loss. Finally, Liu sets the clock ticking early in the story, but—even though the time ran out—gave no indication what it signified. (Other than the Trisolarans were messing with our minds.)
Not that beauty contests like the Hugo awards mean anything (especially this year), but glad to see it won one.
“But for the universe outside the solar system, we should be ever vigilant, and ready to attribute the worst of intentions to any Other that might exist in space.”