From science fiction legend Cixin Liu, the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Three-Body Problem, comes a vision of the future that reads “like Ursula K Le Guin rewriting The Lord of the Flies for the quantum age.” (NPR).
In those days, Earth was a planet in space.
In those days, Beijing was a city on Earth.
On this night, history as known to humanity came to an end.
Eight light years away, a star has died, creating a supernova event that showers Earth in deadly levels of radiation. Within a year, everyone over the age of thirteen will die.
And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge needed to keep the world running.
But when the world is theirs, the last generation may not want to continue the legacy left to them. And in shaping the future however they want, will the children usher in an era of bright beginnings or final mistakes?
"This audacious and ultimately optimistic early work will give Liu's English-reading fans a glimpse at his evolution as a writer and give any speculative fiction reader food for deep thought." -- Shelf Awareness
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Liu, author of the intellectually challenging Three-Body Problem trilogy, provides a more accessible look at humanity's future in this political thriller founded on a thought experiment reminiscent of classic SF. A supernova near Earth bathes the planet in radiation that has minimal effect on people 13 or younger, but will kill anyone older within a year. That provides time for the governments of the world to prepare the oldest children to assume the leadership of their respective countries. Liu focuses on a group of students in China who are assigned some territory to govern; they must plan to have adequate resources while dealing with their neighbors' territorial ambitions. The complicated role-playing game is used to identify potential leaders. After the inevitable deaths of all the adults, which is chillingly described, the adolescent leaders are left to grapple with an overwhelming set of responsibilities and a population of even younger children who have their own ideas of how a post-adult world should look. There's more talk than action, and the global scale of the disaster leaves little room for individual character development. Plausible but surprising twists make this a memorable what-if tale.