Book review: The Wandering Earth

Book cover for The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu

Between the books on my usual reading list, I like to include short stories. I find it a good way to experience new authors to see if I may be interested in exploring their longer form works. Short stories can also be an interesting format. Writers have a limited amount of space to explore an idea, expand a plot, and develop characters. I like seeing how an author creatively utilizes the short story form.

For my latest short story reading, I choose The Wandering Earth. Rather than a single story, it is a collection ten short stories by science fiction author Cixin Liu.

The Wandering Earth was not the first time I’d read a book by Liu. A few years ago, I read The Three Body Problem, which was a very well written book with a very detailed and technical story line. It’s one of the things that drew me to his collection of short stories. The other strong draw is that he is a Chinese author. It is interesting to read science fiction from the point of view of an author who is not from America or a country dominated by western culture.

I’m not going to do a detailed review of all ten stories. The short summary is there were some I loved, some I liked, and some that were just OK. My favorites included the following:

  • The Wandering Earth – instead of sending people to another planetary system to save humanity, rockets are attached to earth to move the entire planet.
  • Sun of China – touching story about a boy who follows his dreams and takes risks to become one of the first explorers of deep space.
  • Micro-era – interesting story of a human who returns to earth from a deep space mission to learn that everything on the earth has been miniaturized; a classic short story that focuses on how the main character comes to grip with and accepts his discovery.
  • With Her Eyes – the shortest of the collection that contains a powerful message about appreciating what we have, enjoying every moment, and having empathy for others.
  • Cannonball – a story that is emblematic of Liu’s works exploring the trade-off between the benefits and consequences of technology.

Overall, The Wandering Earth is an interesting mix of stories. All of them contain a strong science fiction component, as you would expect. While some of the stories can get a little lengthy for the short story genre, it shouldn’t deter you from checking it out. It’s a solid collection that you can browse through at your leisure. Since none of the stories are connected, you can read them in any order, all at one time, or one or two at a time as I did. Bottom line, in my opinion, The Wandering Earth is worth checking out.

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