I’m not a big reader of science fiction but I started to dabble more in the genre at the end of last year (2015) when I tackled some Larry Niven (see Ringworld, Tales of Known Space and Neutron Star). Before that there was Ender’s Game and Hugh Howey’s Wool, but that’s about it.
I’m not even sure how I came about this book. The main attractions were that it was a Hugo prize winner and the fact that the writer was Chinese. I’d also heard that this was the first part of a trilogy and the second book was better than this one. So my expectations were high but tempered.
This is a “first contact” story, ie contact – or at least communication – between humans and an alien race. It is a hard science fiction story, but one that doesn’t read as science fiction for a large part of the book. This may put off some sci-fi fans, but as the book goes on the story arc moves from history > technology > science > startling premise and ideas.
In fact the end of the book is astounding. I will be reading the sequel (The Dark Forest) at some point.
Something to note in relation to the audiobook version: the translation of the book is good – at least it read well in English, dealing impressively with some big ideas at the end – but some elements of the early story did not make sense. I switched to the (printed) book and found that there were a number of notes from the translator which explained some of the meaning behind certain words or phrases. So as much as I like audiobooks this time I recommend reading the book itself, simply for the extra context that it brings.