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Book Review

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The Redemption of Time (Hardback)


Author: Baoshu
Translator: Ken Liu
Publisher: Head of Zeus
343 pages
RRP: £18.99
ISBN: 978 1 78854 220 3
Publication Date: 16 July 2019

The Redemption of Time (2019. 343 pages) is a paraquel novel which acts as a companion piece to The Three-body Problem trilogy, written by Lui Cixin. This novel was written by Baoshu, which is the pen name of Li Jun. The book was translated from the original Chinese by Ken Lui...

Our main protagonist is Yun Tianming and the book is separated out into three sections. Baoshu is very honest in his introduction when he describes the book as fan fiction. The Three-body Problem left many things unanswered and Baoshu has presented his particular interpretation here.

Given how dense the original trilogy was I was expecting this to be impenetrable to anyone not familiar with the books. It turns out the Baoshu has written an excellent hard science fiction novel which can completely stand on its own. So, the review will look at the novel without referencing the events of the original.

When the story properly begins we meet Yun who is sitting with his companion on an alien planet. As they discuss their predicament they start to talk about the destruction of the human race and their part in the downfall. Through this discourse we discover that the universe is a very paranoid place. Although endowed with numerous civilisations, they hide in the emptiness in space, afraid that if they were to give their position away a more advanced civilisation will attack and destroy them. This becomes a catch 22 and a self-fulfilling prophecy, as all civilisations believe this they all behave in this manner. This section acts as an extended explanation of what happened in the background of the original trilogy.

Part two, 'The Way of Tea', sees Yun being resurrected, following his death, as an agent of The Master, charged with finding and destroying the Lurker. Yun discovers that the three dimensional state of his own universe was not the universe's natural state. In the beginning the universe consisted of a single ten-dimensional entity in which the speed of light was infinite and time did not exist. When the Lurker rebelled and degraded the universe into nine dimensions the speed of light slowed and time was created. The war between the Master and the Lurker has continued ever since and their destructive battles have reduced the universe from ten to three dimensions. Here the speed of light is so degraded that civilisations can barely be aware of other.

The last par, Sky Calyx, sees the culmination of billions of years of war and the final confrontation between the remnants of the Master and the Lurker. I was not at all unsympathetic to what the Lurker was trying to do. A universe with no time would mean a universe which remained in an unchanging state. Plainly the Lurker sees this as akin to a permanent state of death.

Having moved further out in the timeline Baoshu has created something which really adds to the original trilogy. The book has the blessing of Lui Cixin and I can see why. Although the book deals with many complex scientific ideas, such as pocket universes, the story never neglects to make its ideas understandable and to make them play a role in the narrative. Yun is a good central character. He has an arc which takes him from being a brain alone to being a creature with almost god-like powers playing his part to determine the fate of the universe. All the while Yun retains his humanity, his regrets and especially his loves.


Charles Packer

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