RaveThe LA Review of BooksThe Ministry for the Future is Kim Stanley Robinson’s grimmest book since 2015’s Aurora, and likely the grimmest book he has written to date — but it is also one of his most ambitious, as he seeks to tell the story of how, given what science and history both tell us to be true, the rest of our lives could be anything but an endless nightmare. It is not an easy read ... it’s a book that calls on us instead to imagine living through a revolution ourselves, as we are, in the here and now.
Cixin Liu, Trans. by Joel Martinsen
MixedLos Angeles Review of BooksFor Western readers encountering Supernova Era after The Three-Body Problem trilogy and The Wandering Earth novella or film, the novel will definitely have the feel of an \'early novel\' from someone who later became a leading figure in the genre. Despite its cleverness, and its perceptive insights on the psychology of childhood, trauma, and grief, the book is somewhat uneven, with plot threads both less believable and less fleshed out than his later masterworks ... the entire book never quite comes together with the feeling of perfectly achieved accomplishment the way The Three-Body Problem and The Wandering Earth do; the characters are too stereotypical, and the solutions they engender too implausibly grand, in ways the later Liu is much more careful about ... Despite this unbalanced and unfinished quality, however, the key themes of Liu’s larger oeuvre are all here ... In a moment of intergenerational struggle defined by environmental protest groups like Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion, and by the school climate strikes sparked by Thunberg and other young people around the globe, Supernova Era offers a tantalizing glimpse into another universe with an entirely different field of ecological politics, one where parents and grandparents won’t simply let their children and grandchildren suffer and die without a fight.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksWare’s appreciation of the radical horror of being — the sheer dread that comes with existing at all, the guilt and sorrow that comes with living a life you can’t take back — reaches an absolute pinnacle in [later] pages, which easily could have been published on their own as a short novella. The sheer artistic achievement of this spellbinding sequence is matched only by its totalizing cosmic pessimism: we are born to suffer; we become monsters before we are even aware enough to choose or to know better; we are incapable of growing or changing, much less ever being happy. The true enormity of our failures and our crimes against each other and against ourselves is always at the edge of our consciousness, simply waiting for the moment of terrible and final revelation. If, for a certain type of reader, this all feels absolutely and unalterably true, whether we’d like it to be or not, for another type of reader it is, I imagine, a biting portrait of human misery that could seem genuinely unbearable to endure.
Me? It made me so incredibly sad. I loved it.