Remembrance of Earth’s Past

Seeking advice from the Rat Pack:

Niall Ferguson (I know!  I know!) recommends the sci-fi novel “The Dark Forest” by Chinese author Liu Cixin as good insight into what Ferguson describes as the New Cold War which China launched against the US around 2012, and which many of our Best & Brightest still refuse to admit is happening.

That book is part of a three volume set, “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” — a large time commitment.  Since I have on occasions been unimpressed by Mr. Ferguson’s own work, it would be good to know if any of the denizens of this parish have read those books and have an opinion on whether they are worth the time.


6 thoughts on “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”

  1. I read the series.   I enjoyed it and think he is an excellent writer.  I am a pretty slow reader and I still finished the series rather quickly.  So I guess I am saying I found it engaging.

    I guess I didn’t draw any parallel to our relationship with China, but I think it gives a perspective of how the Chinese may think.

  2. When I lived in China I was amazed that they had a vibrant Sci Fi scene there.  It was totally separated from the English language Sci Fi scene… I had never heard of any of the authors or their works, but they were enthusiastically devoured by the Sci Fi community there.

    One name was mentioned over and over as being especially good, Liu Cixin.  At the time there were no English translations I could find.

    When The Three Body Problem was published in English I bought it and really liked it, followed by the other two in the series.  I would recommend it quite highly.

  3. Here is the Niall Ferguson article citing Liu Cixin’s The Dark Forest, “America and China Are Entering the Dark Forest”.

    “The Dark Forest,” which continues the story of the invasion of Earth by the ruthless and technologically superior Trisolarans, introduces Liu’s three axioms of “cosmic sociology.”

    First, “Survival is the primary need of civilization.” Second, “Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.” Third, “chains of suspicion” and the risk of a “technological explosion” in another civilization mean that in space there can only be the law of the jungle.

    Meanwhile, here’s some Cold War II sabre rattling on Twitter:

    U.S. China Twitter Cold War: South China Sea

    Did you know that the commander of U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group 11, including the USS Nimitz, is Rear Admiral James Kirk.

  4. Thank you for your observations, JTOmland & Damocles.  Based on your recommendations, I will invest the time.

    Hypatia:  “Um…why do we not like Niall Ferguson?

    Time is the great limited resource we all have in this world.  Is it wise to use time on Dr. Ferguson?

    Good points — he is handsome, articulate, well-spoken, and clearly very smart in the academic sense of the word.

    Not-so-good points — he seems to be a classic greasy pole climber, and a lot of his work (eg Ascent of Money) seems rather … well, shall we say, shallow.

    Although born & raised in Scotland, he penned a foolish article while he was social-climbing at Oxford calling for throwing Scotland down the memory hole, which doubtless pleased the Upper Class English academics he was trying to impress at the time.  Seeing richer pastures on the other side of the Atlantic, Ferguson abandoned Oxford and moved on to the heart of Political Correctness at Harvard, whence he got himself on to the lucrative conference circuit and gigs like visiting professor in Bejing.  It seems there was some Left-Wing unpleasantness in East Coast Academia, so he moved on to the Hoover Institution at Stanford.

    The Bloomberg article referenced by John W. raises the question of whether Niall now deserves some Strange New Respect.  Accusing China of having launched a Cold War nearly a decade ago against an unsuspecting US will not endear him to Chinese-funded US academics & media types, and will presumably end those visiting professorships in China.  Has Dr. Ferguson finally grown a spine?  Or is he now simply brown-nosing a different crowd?  Time will tell.


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