The Wandering Earth


  • Media: #Books #Books 2020
    • Author: Liu Cixin
    • Status: #abandoned
    • Date: 2020-09-18
    • Tags: #scifi #worldbuilding #apocalypse #fatalistic #anthology #shortstory
    • Rating: DNF
    • Idea richness: ★★★★★
    • Links: Highlights, Goodreads


Fascinating worldbuilding conceits (a curse as a computer virus, a planet where air and solids are swapped, so many varieties of apocalypse) wrapped up in an often depressing and nihilistic perspective. The ideas and science are great and I loved the more hopeful stories but honestly some of the others just got down right depressing and the at time equally morbid and/or misanthropic characters did little to alleviate this.

Would like to pick up again in future because there are brilliant concepts hidden in there but wasn't in the mood for yet another apocalypse at the moment.

Why are some subjects deemed inessential?

In the titular Wandering Earth short story "Art, philosophy, and other subjects deemed inessential had been minimized or removed from the curriculum. Humanity had no time for distractions."

Got me thinking: why 'distractions'? Why do we see whole swathes of the human experience as a distraction and put other facets on a pedestal, believing they can and should operate in holy isolation? I think part of the issue might be the very idea that a neat division of subjects is possible. That somehow there isn't art in engineering, physics in music, and scientific discoveries only made by asking the right philosophical questions. This could be much deeper issue though, as this goes right to the heart of the modern educational system and everything we're taught from a very young age. Not to mention the Humans have a propensity to categorise.

The future of cities

  • A computer virus as a curse, affecting all IoT type devices, self-driving cars, etc.
  • "The bottle openers could also prevent users from drinking to excess by refusing to open a bottle until enough time had passed since opening the previous one."

A question of personhood

  • "Sympathy for poor people hinged on one shared characteristic – personhood. When the poor ceased to be people, and all commonalities between rich and poor vanished, sympathy followed suit."
  • Dehumanisation is the first step to much worse (see B-King Leopolds Ghost)


  • "Of the Universality of Mountains" - "Indeed, it is the nature of intelligent life to climb mountains, to strive to stand on ever higher ground to gaze farther into the distance."
  • ‘What’s wrong with idealism and faith?’
  • "An excellent opportunity to indulge in nostalgia in an age where things were rapidly acquired and then forgotten."

Scrapbook Concepts:

  • Submerged skyscrapers protruding above waves at seashore #locations #ruins
  • A planet being used as a spaceship, with gargantuan engines to reach escape velocity and find new sun.
  • A vast, frozen sea. Imagine a school of "giant, sinuous sea monsters was swimming beneath the surface" #locations #water #ice
  • A mountain made of water as a result of a giant moon spaceship exerting gravitational pull above it. Can 'swim' up a mountainside. #locations #water
  • Hop from air bubble room to air bubble room #fragments #water
  • "we call this cosmology the Solid Universe Theory."
  • Air and rock are reversed: live in an air pocket surrounded by infinite rock in every direction. 'Tunnel ships' venturing out. Cult attack PCs for disrupting theory. #locations
  • "We therefore came to call our explorers by another name – Space Thieves."
  • "Of the Universality of Mountains"
  • "It was like watching a golden phoenix soar out of a chicken coop." #creatures #characters #locations
  • Constructing another sun in the sky to bring more rain. #fragments
  • SPARK: Artificial suns used to fight weather wars. Fight for water and habitable land with artificial terraformers #worldbuilding #storyseed
  • Mirror farmers #fragments
  • Brother Teeth, named after saw wrapped around his waist like a belt. In idle moments he would unwind it and draw a violin bow across the back of the blade. #characters
  • the Council for Liquidation of Social Wealth #factions
  • a man named Half-Brick #characters
  • "the Creators told humanity that they had created six Earths in total; the four that now remained were within two hundred light-years of each other. They urged the people of Earth to devote their full efforts to technological development – we needed to eliminate our brother planets, lest we be destroyed ourselves." #worldbuilding
  • "Smoothbore’s thoughts returned to the puzzle at hand: the thirteen wealthiest people on Earth desired to kill the three poorest people." #mystery #adventures
  • "The Social Machine"
  • Curse 2.0 - A curse which is a computer virus. Hijacks AI to target ex-boyfriend. "The woman who had created Curse 1.0 was dubbed the Primogenitor, and the IT archaeologist who rescued it became known as the Upgrader." #fragments #cyberpunk #magic
  • "In the city’s official Social Happiness Index, migrant beggars ranked first."
  • "The bottle openers could also prevent users from drinking to excess by refusing to open a bottle until enough time had passed since opening the previous one."
  • "Once the upgraded Curse learned its target was in the cab, it would ignore his selected destination and burn up the road from Taiyuan to Zhangjiakou, which had become a vast wasteland. The cab would park itself deep in the desert and cut off all communication with the outside world." #mystery
  • The Weaponizer was a member of a new breed of AI artists. They manipulated networks to produce performance art of no practical significance but of great beauty. #factions