The Dark Forest

The Dark Forest

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"With the scope of Dune and the rousing action of Independence Day, this near-future trilogy is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple-award-winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author. In Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion--in just four centuries' time. The aliens' human collaborators may have been defeated, but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth's defense plans are totally exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. This is the motivation for the Wallfacer Project, a daring plan that grants four men enormous resources to design secret strategies, hidden through deceit and misdirection from Earth and Trisolaris alike. Three of the Wallfacers are influential statesmen and scientists, but the fourth is a total unknown. Luo Ji, an unambitious Chinese astronomer and sociologist, is baffled by his new status. All he knows is that he's the one Wallfacer that Trisolaris wants dead"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Tor, A Tom Doherty Associates Book,, 2015
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780765377081
Characteristics: 512 pages ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Martinsen, Joel - Translator


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 20, 2018

Great continuation in the Three Body Problem series. Can't wait to read the last one.

Jan 26, 2018

After reading the whole trilogy, i feel that this is most tedious book of the series. But it is still one the best books of science fiction i have read in the last year. It is as creative and smart as the 1st book of the saga. My only complain is that it could have been shorter, without sacrificing any insight.

Nov 20, 2017

Fantastic book! Clever and insightful. Essentially, this is the story of how human beings react to an alien invasion several hundred years away (though there is a time leap that brings us closer to the Doomsday Battle midway through the book). The focus is very much on human psychology; the alien race/invasion is primarily a catalyst for this theme.

As a scientist, it bothers me when science fiction presents implausible science because the author didn't do their research thoroughly enough (or wanted to take liberties to tell a particular story). That doesn't happen in this book. All the science is plausible and appears correct. Certainly, there are new and creative ideas, but they don't violate current understanding.

I appreciated that, as with the first book, the true meaning of the title doesn't become apparent until midway through the story. I also really appreciated that this book could stand alone. You could read it without reading the first book in the series too (though you should go and read that book first because it's also really good). And it doesn't require a sequel (though I look forward to reading the one that exists).

Oct 16, 2017

I found this volume difficult to get started (I think I was missing Ken Liu's translation) but it picked up speed and in the end I found it worth the effort. Superb science fiction.

Aug 31, 2017

Overall it was a thrilling and engaging read and I greatly enjoyed it. The plot far outstrips the dull characters, enough so that I was compelled to discover what happens even if I struggled to connect personally with the individual characters. Liu Cixin's characters seem distant, but their circumstances were intriguing and they illustrated the power of private thought by surprising me with their actions. This book has a dearth of female characters, let alone ones with agency or critical roles. That is the primary reason I knocked my rating down; the plot may have been even more thrilling than The Three Body Problem, but the story felt inherently misogynistic and I didn't bat an eye when something horrific happened to a character.

I thoroughly enjoy the analysis of human reaction to an extraterrestrial crisis. While I don't know if I agree with the ultimate perspective on the universe, I found it a compelling possibility. Also, Liu Cixin again manages to blur the lines between reality and science fiction in ways that made it easy for me to suspend disbelief in some of the more fantastic future tech.

Apr 09, 2017

per usual, lots of depth, really loved the 4th dimension descriptions, as well as how the universe changes... something new, interesting possibilities.

Mar 05, 2017

I had to push myself through vast sections which contain nothing of consequence to the plot, but when this book hits the right notes, it's a symphony!

Sadly, it falls short on several occasions, and especially the ending left a sour taste in my mouth - everything suddenly works out fine, it's like somebody told the author "wrap it up in 20 pages" after he wasted so much space between the covers of the aforementioned unnecessary passages.

To be honest, Stephen Baxter does a much better job at spanning vast amounts of time and giving you a believable, thought-provoking vision in his books.

Jul 04, 2016

A big thank-you to the North Vancouver District Public Library for purchasing this book at my request. I cannot remember ever being so excited about starting a novel as when I heard “The Dark Forest” had arrived! Note that this book requires a lot of focus (especially with all the difficult Chinese names and technical terms) so it might not be the right choice if you are looking for a light, undemanding read. The final (third) section of the novel was particularly interesting and absorbing - but the book overall had a very different flavor than the first in the series, "The Three-Body Problem". I thought it had a "made for a movie" feel about it.

It might help readers to have the first chapter explained prior to reading it. Without giving away anything important, it is necessary to recognize that the ant is crawling on the grave marker of a character from the first book. That is why Ye Wenjie and Luo Ji are at the same place at the same time. I also believe the ant is a metaphor for our own limited understanding of the life that exists beyond our known reality.

The Trisolarans are only 4.21 light years from Earth (or 4 centuries away). These alien creatures do not possess “communication organs” since their brain waves are stronger than ours and thoughts are directly understood by their counterparts. Trisolarans believe human communication organs are an evolutionary deficiency – but is the human ability to lie and scheme a deficiency or a superior method of communication? Can humans use deception to defeat the approaching invaders?

“The Dark Forest” mixes hard and soft science fiction in a unique and compelling way. Some of the technology and research mentioned is currently in its early stages. For example, brain research designed to improve human intelligence could be used to help humans make huge leaps in technological advancements. You'll also be introduced to human hibernation. And did you know that “petaflops” is a unit of computing speed equal to one thousand million million FLoating-point Operations Per Second? There was so much science in this book, my brain had a hard time understanding it all...but most sci-fi fans will celebrate that.

May 13, 2016

Outstanding, easily on par with The Three-Body Problem, full of unexpected turns, visionary ideas and poignant characterizations. I won't say any more as, much like its predecessor, the less one knows going in the better, and there are very few recurring characters, though I will confirm that the popular Da Shi returns to laconically save the day from time to time.

Mar 26, 2016

I really like this. It's definitely science fiction, an alien invasion story, but with virtually no action. That's a definite plus. Instead, like Neal Stephenson's SevenEves, it is almost entirely about engineering and the preparations and conflicts among defense designers that occur during the four hundred years it takes for the alien fleet to reach the solar system. The vanguard of the invasion are sentient particles called sophons. They are able to travel, it is implied, much faster than spaceships could, so they come first, centuries earlier, to sow discord on Earth. The sophons cannot directly hurt anyone, but they successfully distract and discourage the brightest scientists enough that technological progress is frozen at its present level. Frustration and despair are the result, but some people still try to plan to resist. The planners are called "Wallfacers," as they must keep their competing plans secret from the omnipresent sophons. Each Wallfacer is asigned a "Wallbreaker," whose job is to question and subvert his concept (echoing the Israeli defense concept that at least one member of any committee must always dissent from any majority opinion.) The only sequence in any way approaching "action," an assassination among rival groups of engineers, takes place at a vast remove and in complete silence, and is itself something of an elaborate engineering feat. There are no heroes and no messiah figures, and there is corruption and dysfunction at every level. It's never clear whose ideas are better or more likely to have good results. A technological method for combating despair about the almost certainly unwinnable future war is especially chilling (with a welcome nod to Canticle for Leibowitz -- the statues outside the "faith stations.") What a good and thoughtful book this is. It's a testament to the power of the author (and the translator) that it's so absorbing and entertaining. There's an awkward turn of phrase here and there, a sure sign of a diligent and gifted translator, along with footnotes when needed, to explain concepts from Chinese history and literature that most Western readers might miss. If there's a flaw, it is possibly the distracting lack of Indian characters among the many mathematicians, scientists and engineers. The space force seems to be composed almost entirely of Chinese and Americans with Anglo names, with a few Japanese and Latino names thrown in now and then. Without getting into stereotypes about high IQ's among people of Indian descent (some of which are substantiated by statistics,) people with Indian names are so strongly represented in the technological and scientific worlds, even in the U.S. and at NASA that it rings false that no character appears to be Indian in any way. There are no very strong female characters in this volume either, and there are no female point of view characters at all, but maybe that's supposed to reflect the tech world being frozen at its present limits rather than evolving too. The Three Body Problem had a strong, well-written and morally complex woman protagonist, so maybe this will be remedied in volume three. I can't wait to see what happens next!

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

Jul 05, 2016

taupe_skunk_4 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Oct 16, 2015

VladTheGreen thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top