Review of To Hold Up the Sky by Liu Cixin

The short stories in this volume cover many topics, including concerns and ideas that also appear in The Three-Body Trilogy, but they are used in different settings.

Super-string computers, hollow earth, the value of poetry, total perfect vision of time and space achieved by simulating the original Big Bang and then tracing the trajectory, gods who manipulate matter and energy and probability to compose poetry.
Wildly inventive and scientifically impressive, the stories nonetheless stumble by including absolutely absurd things in them, like the low-temperature artist and the checklist questions asked by super-intelligent extra-terrestrials. When technologies exist for downloading and decoding DNA from light years away, aliens would have no need of Q & A sessions to determine a species’ threat level.

The important part is that much of it is charming, and it is occasionally mind-blowing. When the stories are melodramatic they also capture the eternal truths, the struggle of man against the universe, and his smallness, in a powerful way. Liu succeeds at using fiction as a vehicle to communicate radical ideas.

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