Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy

Life gets in the way sometimes with what we really want to do and the past year has been a killer in terms of my reading progress. With all that was going on, I struggled to get the desire to read. Books would take almost a month for me to get through and rather than enjoy the fact I finished it I felt more a relief that it was over. That’s not how reading should make you feel, so I took a break from reading. I went from 60+ books read a year to 11. The book that changed it all for me had been sitting on my shelf for some time.  I had eyed it off many a time, found out it was part one in a trilogy and even order parts two and three but it still sat unread. In my reading lul its size was a turn-off, then one night while searching Netflix unsuccessfully for a good sci-fi movie, I said screw it and picked up book one and I just couldn’t put it down. A cliche I know but considering the last few months, I had struggled to even finish a chapter per reading session not being able to put this down was a huge turning point.

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The Three Body-Problem initially caught my eye for two reasons, firstly a big recommendation from another favourite sci-fi author Kim Stanley Robinson was on the cover and secondly,  the title alluded to an actual scientific concept/problem in the real world. The book’s blurb confirms my reasoning for grabbing it.

In 1967, physics professor Ye Zhetai is killed after he refuses to denounce the theory of relativity. His daughter, Ye Wenjie, witnesses his gruesome death. Shortly after, she’s falsely charged with sedition for promoting the works of environmentalist Rachel Carson, and told she can avoid punishment by working at a defense research facility involved with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. More than 40 years later, Ye’s work becomes linked to a string of physicist suicides and a complex role-playing game involving the classic physics problem of the title.”

Well colour me intrigued, the book involves SETI a huge interest of mine. We begin with A nanotech engineer, Wang Miao being asked by the police to investigate a secret cadre of scientists after a raft of suicides. Wangs pursuit of this leads him to an online game. Wang soon discovers that the game is key to everything and somehow links to an impending extinction-level threat to humanity. A game linked to a potential extinction, how? I just couldn’t put the book down at this point.

Such a unique story, I love the crime drama like feel to it as the plot is slowly unraveled from the perspective of Wang but just when you think you have it all figured out a bombshell is dropped on you. There is also a great insight into the realities of choices and the impact ones upbringing can have on your outlook in life. Early on, I was at a loss as to what the extinction level event could be and going into that last few pages I still couldnt piece it all together and then bam they drop the reveal right into our laps and we now know we have 400 years to prepare for it.

I just couldn’t leave it there so I dove straight into the second book as soon as I finished the first – spoilers will follow

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There’s no messing around this book dives right in and deals with the extinction-level threat and how humanity rallies to deal with it. We have 400 years to prepare somehow against the alien armada on its way. The Aliens are revealed to be called Trisolaris, a fitting name since they come from a planetary system with 3 suns hence the name of the first book. What’s worse is Trisolaris spies are already among us. The Sophons can see everything……How do you organize and plan to prevent an event of this magnitude when your every move is being watched and countered before you start it. How can you organize governments and the people to plan for something that’s 400 years in the future? The solution is the Wallfacer project, four men granted unlimited authority to prepare for the coming invasion how they see fit. The caveat, they can’t write anything down or tell anyone their plan as the sophons will see it and sabotage it.

There is a lot of pessimism in this book. I’m not sure if this is an insight into, the Chinese view of the world, just specifically the authors, or if this was merely for the sake of the plot but it was slightly discouraging to think that someone could be this pessimistic about humanity and life in the universe. For me, as an optimist, I saw the whole dark forest concept as deeply depressing. That instead of a galaxy with life everywhere and interacting like a forest full of animals, we are led to believe that all life comes to a stark and inevitable realization that its kill or be killed so all civilizations stay hidden from others, hence a dark forest and if signs of another are seen it is exterminated

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The climactic battle and the stalemate reach at the end of the previous book almost wrapped things up so just when you think you know how this one will bring the story home it takes it off onto such a unique path, I was just left in awe

From the unique concepts and twists on usual stories and themes to accurate science mentioned. This book series ticked all the right boxes for me. I had some difficulty with the names in this book, mainly from a lack of understanding of how to tell a given name from a family name for the numerous Chinese character, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. It was also great to read a story where the world isn’t saved by the good ol’ US of A. This series was apparently the first books from the author to be translated into English, so I am hoping more of his other works will be translated too. Definitely becoming one of my favorite book series.

This series has renewed my passion for reading once again

Genghis Khan – Jack Weatherford

Genghis Khan – Jack Weatherford
Quite an informative read. We are taken for a walk through the life of the famous Genghis khan. From a nobody to the greatest commander ever. The man conquered more lands than any other and his empire was larger than all before him.
Unlike other conquerors he didn’t just bring pain and suffering but religious freedom, ended slavery, built economies,  and developed cultures. Then knowing his end was near he tried to ensure his death wouldn’t cause the end of his empire, tried to ensure his sons honored his wishes, They didn’t
After his death it wasn’t until 40 years later that the empire stabilized under kublai khan and extended to its furthest. The legacy left over wasn’t revered as it should be but tarnished and discredited by so many to the point that they were spoken of like scum, if one had a sick child it was said to be a mongoloid (essentially Mongolian) as a kid i even remember using that term as an insult to my sister, but to find out it was used by Europeans to mask their hatred of the Mongolians because of their conquest, Was like a blow hitting me i had no idea of the terms backstory
This and other revelations is what i found remarkable about this book. It is so true in our biased society that history is written by the Victors but that just makes it even more amazing when the truth comes through.

The Five Greatest Warriors – Matthew Reilly

The Five Greatest Warriors – Matthew Reilly

Essentially what Matthew has done is make these Jack West Jr books into a lord of the rings style trilogy. In that each book doesn’t finish the story, just continues it. In fact the second book much like its twin the two towers has no conclusion and leaves the story hanging on a cliff hanger no less. What a pain it would of been to of read these books back when they were released and reach that end and have to wait a year or so for this book to wrap things up.

This book picks up right from the cliff hanger from the previous one. The story then moves on the follow the team as it tries to find the remaining stones and pillars and naturally save the world. Which of course is done after quite some adventuring. It was refreshing to see someone other than the US being the bad guys. Matthew does seem to have something against them, with the US being the bad guy in numerous stories. Art imitating life anyone? Here we have Japan filling the role of the “bad guy” to the extreme, wanting to destroy the planet and thus erase the events of their WW2 defeat which stripped their nation of honor. Extreme, yes but then again when you hear of a small minority of Japanese schools removing reference to Pearl Harbour and calling the US the aggressors, is it really that much of a stretch?

This book really did have a “Return of the king” style to it as many plots from the previous ones were wrapped up however i couldn’t help but notice his choice of titles for this series. “Seven Wonders” “Six Stones” “Five Warriors” clearly a countdown which precludes the need for four more books to complete the countdown. And sure enough in the interview at the back, he suggests this very notion and implies there will be more. Which aside from some real stretches of the imagination in terms of plot so far, i am actually quite looking forward to. I have really taken a shining to these characters

The Six Sacred Stones – Matthew Reilly

The Six Sacred Stones – Matthew Reilly

This is a continuation of the story started in Seven Ancient Wonders. Which is a rather strange thing considering, All the plot lines wrapped up rather nicely at the end of that book when the machine was used and the planet saved. So i couldn’t see where this book was going to go. Well the story follows that, the Japanese find a way to undo the effect the machine had and that the solar flare caused by an enormously large sunspot (plot from previous book) was just a precursor to an even deadlier dilemma. A rogue planet of dark matter entering our solar system

Since dark matter isn’t 100% understood or identified, it can serve as a feasible plot device however we once again get drawn into the world of an ancient advanced civilization that died out eons ago. The same civilization that built the great machine from the first book also built six shrines around the world, which also held machines and giant pits that reach to an unknown depth. This idea was rather hard to swallow.

Regardless we are once again led on a wild ride as we try and discover the locations of these 6 shrines and the titular sacred stones to power them. However this story only covers several of the stones the rest are left for the next book.

This series while requiring some suspension of both, belief and scientific knowledge. It is still quite a thrilling adventure story and am really starting to like these main characters. Quite possibly because the Protagonist Jack West Jr is Aussie

Seven Ancient Wonders – Matthew Reilly

Seven Ancient Wonders – Matthew Reilly
I have been a Matthew Reilly fan for awhile now and have managed to buy all his books, i just haven’t got around to reading them all. Specifically i hadn’t read the Jack West Jr series. They are action and adventure novels kinda like Indiana Jones. And until recently i haven’t been in the mood for it. I had imagined this series was similar to his scarecrow series in which it is just a collection of one off stories. But the Jack West series isn’t like that. It seems my run of picking up trilogies continues but unlike Star Wars Aftermath or Lost on Mars. This series has part two and three already released.
We find that Jack West Jr has been put in charge of a multi national task force with the aims of preventing the destruction of the planet. Lofty goals i know. The story is all based around an ancient machine used to protect the planet from a deadly solar flare. Solar flare plot is believable, there are big ones that could really mess up life on earth but ancient advanced civilizations i found a stretch. Yeah i know there is some evidence of many unknown ancient races and myths but i just find it hard to picture an even more ancient and yet advanced like western society civilization. Where is the evidence?  But anyway its a story so we can suspend realism for a moment. This ancient civilization much like our many known ancients civs were good at astronomy and knew of the impending doom and built a machine to protect Earth. In fact they used the machine in the past to protect earth and when they died off for unknown reason they left the machine for others to find
Long story short. The Egyptians knew about this, knew that the flare occurred regularly so they found the machine and built the great pyramid to use it. After the Egyptians saved the planet the broke the machine into pieces and hid it in the locations of the seven ancient wonders hence the book name.
Our story is simple jack must find the pieces and save the planet. Naturally there’s a twist who ever uses the machine will ensure his county becomes all powerful for a millennium. Which is why the Egyptians hid the pieces. So naturally there is a group of evil US forces trying to find the pieces and Jack and his team represent a coalition of small nations who don’t want the US to win.
After suspension of belief on a few plot issues namely advanced ancient civilization etc it is quite an Indiana Jones like  adventure finding the remains/locations of the ancient wonders and navigating booby traps all to save the planet quite a fun read and strangely for part one in a trilogy, wraps up plot ends quite nicely. Going to dive straight into part two to see how they continue on