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the_dark_forest

The Dark Forest — Cixin Liu

reading notes from The Dark Forest, Cixin Liu.

“It's all fascinating, but what would the axioms of cosmic sociology be?” “First: Survival is the primary need of civilization. Second: Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.”

To derive a basic picture of cosmic sociology from these two axioms, you need two other important concepts: chains of suspicion, and the technological explosion

He nodded and sat up. “Rong, I used to think that a character in a novel was controlled by her creator, that she would be whatever the author wanted her to be, and do whatever the author wanted her to do, like God does for us.” “Wrong!” she said, standing up and beginning to pace the room. “Now you realize you were wrong. This is the difference between an ordinary scribe and a literary writer. The highest level of literary creation is when the characters in a novel possess life in the mind of the writer. The writer is unable to control them, and might not even be able to predict the next action they will take. We can only follow them in wonder to observe and record the minute details of their lives like a voyeur. That's how a classic is made.” “So literature, it turns out, is a perverted endeavor.”

“Do they really believe the sophon will unfold in lower dimensions?”

I didn't use to care about the big issues, but they've gotten too huge. I never thought anything could get so big

I've started to come around to your way of thinking. I don't care about those irrelevant issues anymore. Believe it or not, I haven't watched the news in two weeks. I used to care about the big issues because people matter. We could have an effect on the outcome of current events. But no one has the power to overcome this. What's the point of troubling yourself about it?

No one ever knew the man's true name, but eventually, they called him the Second Wallbreaker

“Is it because our thoughts aren't transparent? That doesn't matter, you know. All of the skills that you lack—deceit, trickery, disguise, and misdirection—we use in your service.”

Romance of the Three Kingdoms4

In one remote corner of the vast sea of information on the Internet, there was a remote corner, and in a remote corner of that remote corner, and then in a remote corner of a remote corner of a remote corner of that remote corner—that is, in the very depths of the most remote corner of all—a virtual world came back to life.

The fundamental axiom of economics is the human mercenary instinct. Without that assumption, the entire field would collapse. There isn't any fundamental axiom for sociology yet, but it might be even darker than economics. The truth always picks up dust. A small number of people could fly off into space, but if we knew it would come to that, why would we have bothered in the first place?“

The words, like insects crowding around the flame, kept working their way into his head: Escapism, socialized technology, ETO, transformation to a wartime economy, equatorial base, charter amendment, PDC, near-Earth primary warning and defensive perimeter, independent integrated mode …

a lingering coziness of a past Golden Age being eroded by the ever worsening era of crisis

Only part of it was visible, but he knew the whole slogan: “Dig deep tunnels, keep vast stores of grain, don't seek hegemony.”8

Besides, I was going to tell you how to trick people, so just remember this: Real shrewdness means not letting any shrewdness show. It's not like in the movies. The truly astute don't sit in the shadows all day striking a pose. They don't show off that they're using their brains. They look all carefree and innocent. Some of them are tacky and mawkish, others careless and unserious. What's critical is not to let others think you're a person of interest. Let them look down on you or dismiss you and they won't feel you're an obstacle. You're just a broom in the corner. The pinnacle of this is to make them not notice you at all, as if you don't exist until the moment right before they die at your hands.”

The source of this defeatism stems primarily from the worship of technology, and the underestimation or complete dismissal of the role of human initiative and the human spirit in war

“It was like that for Shakespeare and Balzac and Tolstoy, at least. The classic images they created were born from their mental wombs. But today's practitioners of literature have lost that creativity. Their minds give birth only to shattered fragments and freaks, whose brief lives are nothing but cryptic spasms devoid of reason. Then they sweep up these fragments into a bag they peddle under the label 'postmodern' or 'deconstructionist' or 'symbolism' or 'irrational.'”

Then they were silent. The room was completely quiet. Luo Ji could clearly hear the beating of his heart. This, he realized, was the Meditation Room. The centerpiece was a six-ton rock made of the purest raw iron, symbolizing timelessness and strength. It had been a gift from Sweden. But right now, far from wanting to meditate, he tried as hard as possible to think of nothing, convinced of what Shi had said: Any thinking is liable to go off the rails. He counted the shapes in the painting.

The First Wallfacer: Frederick Tyler

The Second Wallfacer: Manuel Rey Diaz

Rey Diaz's basic approach to warfare was built atop a single, clear idea: Modern high-tech weapons might be useful against point targets, but, for area targets, their performance is no better than conventional weapons and their cost and limited quantity make them essentially nonfactors. He was a genius at low-cost, high-tech exploits.

The Third Wallfacer: Bill Hines

As a scientist, he was the only person in history to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in two sciences simultaneously for the same discovery. During research conducted with the neuroscientist Keiko Yamasuki, he discovered that brain activity for thoughts and memories operated on the quantum level rather than on the molecular level as previously believed. This discovery pushed brain mechanisms downward to the microstate of matter, rendering all prior research nothing more than superficial attempts that merely skimmed the surface of neuroscience. This discovery also demonstrated that the animal brain's capacity to process information was several orders of magnitude higher than previously imagined, which lent credence to long-held speculation that the brain had a holographic structure

The Fourth Wallfacer: Luo Ji

He now understood that the Wallfacers had a mission far weirder than any in history, its logic cold and twisted, yet unyielding as the chains that bound Prometheus. It was an unliftable curse impossible for the Wallfacers to break under their own strength. No matter how he struggled, the totality of everything would be greeted with the Wallfacer smile and imbued with the significance of the Wallfacer Project: How are we supposed to know whether or not you are working?

“Intelligence is a vague term in our field. What in particular—” “I mean intelligence in the broadest sense of the word. Not just the traditional meaning of logical reasoning, but learning ability, imagination, and innovation as well. And also the ability to accumulate common sense and experience while preserving intellectual vigor. And enhancing mental endurance, so that a brain can think continuously without fatigue. And we can even consider the possibility of eliminating sleep. And so forth.” “What will it take? Do you have even a rough idea?”

As Tyler walked in the sea breeze, his mind returned to a sentence from a suicide note from a kamikaze pilot to his mother that he had seen in the exhibit: Mom, I'm going to be a firefly.

Shi Qiang shook his head. “I don't know.” He raised a hand to stop Kent from arguing. “However, sir, that's just my ignorance, not the opinion of our superiors. This is the biggest difference between you and me: I'm just someone who faithfully carries out orders. You, you're someone who always has to ask why.” “Is that wrong?” “It's not about right or wrong. If everyone had to be clear about why before they executed an order, then the world would have plunged into chaos long ago. Mr. Kent, you do outrank me, but when you get down to it, we're both people who carry out orders. We ought to understand that some things aren't for people like us to think over. It's enough to do our duty. If you can't do that, then I'm afraid you'll have a rough time.”

Zhuang Yan, the core meaning of the Wallfacer Project is to encapsulate humanity's real strategy in the mind of one person, the only place in the world that's safe from sophon spying. They had to choose a few people, but that doesn't mean those people are supermen. Superman doesn't exist.“ “But why were you chosen?”

“Wallfacers are the most untrustworthy people in history. The world's greatest liars.” “That's your duty.”

The Meditation Room had been designed by Dag Hammarskjöld, second secretary general of the UN, who believed that the UN ought to have a place for meditation removed from the history-making decisions of the General Assembly Hall

So he turned his attention to the power in his hands. The least of all the Wallfacers, Say had said, but he would certainly be able to make use of a terrifying amount of resources. Most importantly, he didn't have to justify his use of them to anyone. In fact, an important part of his mandate was to act in such a way as to keep others guessing, and furthermore, to do as much as possible to engender misunderstandings. Never in human history had there been such a thing! Maybe the absolute monarchs of old had been able to do whatever they wished, but even they ultimately had to account for their actions.

Garanin shrugged. “The commission can question the Wallfacers in two areas: use of resources exceeding the set scope, and harm caused to human lives. Apart from these, all questions are in violation of the spirit of the Wallfacer Project

“We haven't even tapped one percent of the potential applications of existing theories,” Zhang Beihai said. “My feeling is that the biggest problem right now is the technology sector's approach to research. They're wasting too much time and money on low-end technology. In propulsion, for example, there's no reason at all to work on the fission drive, but right now they're not only throwing huge amounts of R&D at it, they're even putting the same amount of effort into studying next-gen chemical propulsion! We should focus our resources on studying fusion engines, and move directly to the development of media-free fusion engines, leapfrogging media-based fusion. The same problem exists in other areas of research. Sealed ecosystems, for instance, are a necessary technology for interstellar spacecraft, one that is not particularly dependent on fundamental theory, but research in this area is very limited.”

In an era where anxiety had taken hold of everything, Luo Ji was now the world's most laid-back man. He strolled beside the lake, took a boat out into the water, had the chef turn the mushrooms he picked and the fish he caught into tasty delicacies, browsed through the library's rich collection, and when he tired of that, went outside and golfed with the guards. He rode on horseback through the grassland and on the forest path in the direction of the snow peak, but he never reached the foot of the mountain. Oftentimes, he would sit on a bench on the lakeside and look at the mountain's reflection in the water, doing and thinking nothing as an entire day passed unknowingly.

And thus, the Wallfacer Project produced a second idiom after the “Wallfacer smile.” Anything that was clearly absurd but which had to be done anyway was called “part of the Wallfacer plan,” or simply, “part of the plan.”

He knew that his recent leisure was merely the weightlessness of tumbling into the abyss of loneliness, and now he had reached the bottom

“That's right. But Luo Ji's carefree. Nothing bothers him. Kent, old fellow, do you think what he's doing is easy? Open-mindedness, is what this is, and anyone who wants to do great things needs to be open-minded. Someone like you won't accomplish great things.”

'Three things are unfilial, and having no issue is the greatest.'13

My dad said that people who are sensitive to beauty are good by nature, and if they're not good, then they can't appreciate beauty.”

“On the one hand, thanks to our common enemy, our hatred of the West has faded. On the other, the human race that the Trisolarans want to wipe out includes the hated West, so to us, perishing together would be a joy. So we don't hate the Trisolarans.” The old man spread his hands. “You see, hatred is a treasure more precious than gold or diamonds, and a weapon keener than any in the world, but now it's gone. It's not yours to give back. So the organization, like me, does not have long to live.”

The only constant in a world of tremendous change is the swift passage of time

Over and over again he recalled her words: Suppose a vast number of civilizations are distributed throughout the universe, on the order of the number of detectable stars. Lots and lots of them. The mathematical structure of cosmic sociology is far clearer than that of human sociology. The factors of chaos and randomness in the complex makeups of every civilized society in the universe get filtered out by the immense distance, so those civilizations can act as reference points that are relatively easy to manipulate mathematically. First: Survival is the primary need of civilization. Second: Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant. One more thing: To derive a basic picture of cosmic sociology from these two axioms, you need two other important concepts: chains of suspicion and the technological explosion. I'm afraid there won't be that opportunity…. Well, you might as well just forget I said anything. Either way, I've fulfilled my duty.

By this time, most of the prayer beads had been worn faint, except for twenty-one of them. These ones seemed only to get newer the more he polished them, and now emitted a faint light: Survival is the primary need of civilization. Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant

“A spell against whom?” Luo Ji answered, “Against the planets of star 187J3X1. Of course, it could also work directly against the star itself.”

he belonged to one of those mean social classes whose poverty was more spiritual than material, like Gogol's petty bureaucrats who, despite their lowly social station, still worry about preserving that status and spend their whole lives engaged in uncreative, exhausting random tasks that they carry out exactingly.

A crowd of people surrounded me in the square, their eyes revealing the fantasies of children, the reverence of the middle-aged, and the concern of the elderly

“Fate lies within the light cone.”

In the dead, lonely, cold blackness, he saw the truth of the universe.

“I'm starting to understand. We send out a message containing the position of the star we wish to point out, relative to the surrounding stars, and the recipient compares the data to its star map to determine the star's location.”

Qin Shi Huang, Aristotle, and Von Neumann

Luo Ji spent the night in a fevered torpor, haunted endlessly by restless dreams in which the stars in the night sky swirled and danced like grains of sand on the skin of a drum. He was even aware of the gravitational interaction between these stars: It wasn't three-body motion, but the 200-billion-body motion of all of the stars in the galaxy! Then the swirling stars clustered into an enormous vortex, and in that mad spiral the vortex transformed again into a giant serpent formed from the congealed silver of every star, which drilled into his brain with a roar….

“Doctor, do you believe in God?” The suddenness of the question left Ringier momentarily speechless. ”… God? That's got a variety of meanings on multiple levels today, and I don't know which you—“ “I believe, not because I have any proof, but because it's relatively safe: If there really is a God, then it's right to believe in him. If there isn't, then we don't have anything to lose.” The general's words prompted laughter, and Ringier said, “The second half is untrue. There is something to lose, at least as far as science is concerned…. Still, so what if God exists? What's he got to do with what's right in front of us?” “If God really exists, then he may have a mouthpiece in the mortal world.” They all stared at him for ages before they understood the implication of his words. Then one astronomer said, “General, what are you talking about? God wouldn't choose a mouthpiece from an atheist nation.”

He was in dire need of a spacecraft capable of interstellar travel. If other roads led nowhere, then just one was left. No matter how dangerous it might be, it had to be taken.

Three old men, Zhang Yuanchao and his two old neighbors, Yang Jinwen and Miao Fuquan, were watching this on television. All of them were now past seventy, and while no one would call them doddering, they were now definitely old. For them, recalling the past and looking toward the future were both burdens, and since they were powerless to do anything about the present, their only option was to live out their waning years without thinking about anything in this unusual era.

That type of spacecraft requires planetary bases in order to navigate through the Solar System. We do that, and we would be reenacting the tragedy of the Sino-Japanese War, with the Solar System as Weihaiwei18

A navy's front line defenses ought to be at the enemy's ports. We can't do that, of course, but our defensive line ought to be pushed out as far as the Oort Cloud, and we should ensure that the fleet possesses sufficient flanking capabilities in the vast reaches outside the Solar System. This is the foundation of space force strategy.”

He was, Zhang Beihai noticed immediately, one of those fortunate people who inhabited a beloved world of his own. No matter what changes befell the larger world, he could always immerse himself in his own and find contentment.

“How did this happen? The Wallfacers' privilege of sealed-off strategic thinking was meant to be used against the sophons and Trisolaris. But you and Tyler both used it against humanity.” “There's nothing strange about that,” Rey Diaz said. He sat next to the window, enjoying the sunlight shining in from the outside. “Right now, the greatest obstacle to humanity's survival comes from itself.”

Basically, we discovered the mind's mechanism for making judgments in the cerebral neural network, as well as the ability to have a decisive impact on them. If we compare the process by which a human mind makes judgments to a computer's process, there's the input of external data, calculation, and then the final outcome. What we're able to do is omit the calculation step of the process and directly produce an outcome. When a certain piece of information enters the brain, it exerts an influence on a particular part of the neural network, and we can cause the brain to render a judgment—to believe that the information is genuine—without even thinking about it.“

“That is truly a great achievement.” Chang Weisi grew serious. “I mean, for neuroscience. But in the real world, Dr. Hines, you have created a truly troublesome thing. Really. The most troublesome thing in history.”

“Political and ideological work establishes faith through rational, scientific thinking.”

Sunrise on Mercury was a process that took over ten hours, and a faint light had just appeared on the horizon.

Precisely the opposite. It sends a non-detonation signal

Time is the one thing that can't be stopped. Like a sharp blade, it silently cuts through hard and soft, constantly advancing. Nothing is capable of jolting it even the slightest bit, but it changes everything

As the elderly passed away, the departed Golden Shore vanished into the smoke of history. The ship of human civilization floated alone in the vast ocean, surrounded on all sides by endless, sinister waves, and no one knew if there even was an opposite shore.

“Batteries?” “Batteries,” he said in English. “You don't have batteries anymore?” When the nurse shook her head again, he said, “Then where does the electricity in the cup come from?” “Electricity? There's electricity everywhere,” the nurse said disapprovingly. “The electricity in the cup won't run out?” “It won't run out.” “It's inexhaustible?!” “Inexhaustible. How could electricity run out?”

“Is it raining out?” She shook her head. “You think I'm carrying an … umbrella?” she said, unfamiliar with the last word. “If it's not an umbrella, then what is it?” Luo Ji pointed to the device on her shoulder, imagining that she would say some peculiar name for it. But she didn't. “It's my bicycle,” she said.

“But there's one thing you never anticipated: There are no longer any great powers. All countries have declined in political power.” “All the countries? Then who rose up?” “A suprastate entity: the space fleet.” Luo Ji thought this over for a while before realizing what Jonathan meant. “You mean the space fleet is independent?”

“We insist.” The officer pressed a display area on his sleeve. It popped up an information window, which he looked over, and then said, “It's been reported. For the next forty-eight hours, the police will track you, but this requires your agreement.” “We agree. We might still be in danger.”

The world seems like it's built using bricks made from displays,” Luo Ji sighed. “That's right. Anything smooth can light up.” As Shi Qiang spoke he took out a pack of cigarettes and passed it to Luo Ji. “Look at this. Just a pack of cheap cigarettes.” As soon as Luo Ji held the pack in his hands, it started displaying an animated image of several miniature pictures that seemed like an options menu. “This … it's just a film that can display images,” Luo Ji said as he looked at the pack. “A film? You can go online with this gadget!”

We've actually been tracking you all along. It's just negligence.“ “Can you tell us what's happening?” “Killer 5.2.” “What?” “It's a network virus. The ETO first released it about a century into the Crisis Era, and then there were lots of subsequent variants and upgrades. It's a murder virus. First it establishes the identity of

the target by a variety of methods including the chip everyone has implanted in their body. When it locates the target, the Killer virus manipulates every possible piece of external hardware to carry out the murder. Its concrete manifestation is what you experienced today. It seems like everything in the world wants to kill you. So, at the time, people called it a 'modern hex.' For a while, the Killer software was even commercialized and sold on the online black market. You entered the personal ID number of your target and uploaded the virus. Then, even if that person was able to evade death, they would still have a hard time living in society.” “The industry developed as far as that? Incredible!” Shi Qiang exclaimed. “Software from a century ago can still run today?” Luo Ji asked incredulously.

Recent investigations still haven't discovered any signs of the Imprinted. What's your read?” “I believe that one possibility is that the Imprinted have disappeared. Another possibility is that they've been deeply hidden. If a person has an ordinary defeatist mentality, they will speak of it to others. But a one-hundred-percent unshakeable technologically hardened faith will inevitably produce a corresponding sense of mission. Defeatism and Escapism are intimately related, and if the Imprinted really exist, then their ultimate mission is bound to be accomplishing an escape into the universe. But to achieve this goal, they have to deeply conceal their true thoughts.”

No matter what the future might bring, the present is most important. Of course, that mind-set was outrageous at first, the classic thinking of a traitor to humanity, but you couldn't stop people from thinking it. And very soon the entire world thought so. There was a popular slogan back then, which soon became a famous historical quote.“ ”'Make time for civilization, for civilization won't make time,

Darkness. Before the darkness there was nothing but nothingness, and the nothingness was without color. Nothing was in the nothingness

As he spoke, a field of vibrant roses flashed on his white lab coat, then gradually faded and disappeared. As he continued speaking, the coat displayed a continuous assortment of delightful images that matched his expressions and emotions: seas, sunsets, and woods in the drizzle.

His coat showed an evening scene in which a setting sun rapidly turned into a starry sky to say farewell.

If humanity had really achieved inexhaustible energy, then they could achieve practically everything. Now he believed the words of the pretty nurse: Things might not be so serious.

From high up, it took him a long moment to realize that what he saw from here was the city. At first he thought he was looking at a giant forest, the slender tree trunks stretching straight up toward the sky, each one sprouting perpendicular branches of varying lengths. The city's buildings were the leaves hanging off these branches. The layout of the city looked random, and different trees had different densities of leaves. The Hibernation and Reawakening Center formed a part of one of those large trees, and the leaf that contained his bed hung from the narrow platform that now extended out in front of him.

The woman had her umbrella—or, rather, her bicycle—positioned on her back like a backpack, and then it stood up in back of her and opened overhead to form two coaxial propellers that started up silently, turning in opposition to offset rotational torque. Then she lifted slowly up into the air and hopped over the railing beside her into the abyss that had so dazzled him.

But please don't misunderstand. Earth is not ruled by a military government. The territory and sovereignty of the space fleets is in space, and they rarely interfere with the internal affairs of terrestrial society. This is stipulated by the UN charter. So right now the human world is divided into two international spheres: the traditional Earth International, and the newly emerged Fleet International. The three fleets of Fleet International—the Asian, European, and North American—make up the Solar Fleet, and the former Planetary Defense Council evolved into the Solar Fleet Joint Conference, nominally the highest command body in the Solar Fleet. However, as with the UN, it has a coordinating function, but no real power. In fact, it's a Solar Fleet in name only. The actual power of humanity's space-based armed forces lies in the hands of the supreme command of the three major fleets.

The facts of history have proven that, as a strategic plan, the Wallfacer Project was a complete and utter failure. It is no exaggeration to say that it was the most naïve and foolish action that human society as a whole has ever taken.

You might not be used to the times, but living won't be an issue. In this age, social welfare is excellent, and a person can enjoy a comfortable life even if they don't do anything at all. The university you used to work at is still there, right in this city. They said they would consider the question of your work, and they'll contact you later on.

He had known that his wife was a devotee of the ideas of Timothy Leary, and he had seen her fanatical desire to alter the human mind through technological means, but he had never connected it with a deeply hidden hatred of humanity.

As for the Imprinted, if they voluntarily accepted the mental seal, then that doesn't appear to have violated the laws of the time. If they applied the mental seal to other volunteers, then they were under the dominance of the faith or belief that they had already received through technical means, so they should not be subjected to punishment. So the only thing we need to do is find the mental seals. The matter of the Imprinted might not need to be pursued at all.

Pedestrians passed through in shining clothes like glowing ants. Luo Ji was impressed to no end by the urban design that elevated modern noise and crowdedness into the air and let the ground return to nature. Here, there was no shadow of the war, only human comforts and pleasures.

Hello. I am Financial Counselor 8065 of the General Banking System. Welcome

He thought about the heating glass, and finally understood: It was just a wireless power supply. The power source emitted electricity in the form of microwaves or other EM radiation to form an electric field over a certain space, allowing any equipment within it to draw power through an antenna or resonant coil. Like Shi Qiang had said, even two centuries ago, this technology was entirely ordinary. The only reason it hadn't been commonplace was because the power loss was too great. Only a small portion of the power emitted into a space could be used, but the majority was lost. In this era, however, mature controlled fusion technology meant that energy sources had been greatly enriched, to the point that losses from wireless power supplies were acceptable

At the sculpture's edge, he saw a solemn obelisk, on which was carved a line of large golden characters: MAKE TIME FOR CIVILIZATION, FOR CIVILIZATION WON'T MAKE TIME.

Shi Qiang took the cigarette pack out of Luo Ji's hands, withdrew the last two cigarettes, passed one to him, and then crumpled the empty pack into a ball and tossed it onto the table. On the crumpled ball, the images still flashed, but the sound had disappeared. “Whenever I go anywhere, the first thing I do is to turn off every screen that's around me. They're so annoying,” Shi Qiang said, turning off the tabletop and floor displays with his hands and feet. “But the people here can't be away from them.” He pointed around them. “There aren't any computers anymore. Anyone who wants to go online or something can just tap any smooth surface. Clothing and shoes can be used as computers, too. Believe it or not, I've even seen toilet paper that you can go online with.”

Da Shi, I'm certain that while I was asleep, they not only cured my illness, but also conducted psychiatric treatment.

“Da Shi, it seems the whole world is against me. I used to have a favorable impression of it.”

In a few minutes, a small, flying delivery van pulled up outside the transparent wall and delivered the medicine through the portal that had just opened up with a slender mechanical arm

“Many aspects of modern society—politics, economics, culture, lifestyle, and relations between the sexes—have changed greatly in two centuries, so it takes some time for us to adapt.”

Special Contingent of Future Reinforcements commander Zhang Beihai reporting

Their tall, slender bodies had none of the clumsy sturdiness of people growing up under Earth's gravity, but possessed the light agility of spacers.

“We call the modern people 'walltappers,' because when they first get here they're always touching the wall out of habit, trying to activate something.”

Eventually, environmental protection was seen as no less treasonous to humanity than the ETO. Organizations like Greenpeace were treated like ETO branches and suppressed. Work on the space forces accelerated the development of highly polluting heavy industry, which made environmental pollution unstoppable. The greenhouse effect, climate anomalies, desertification…

There's another term you might find interesting, Dr. Luo,“ said the first neighbor, drawing closer to him. An economist before hibernation, he had a deeper understanding of the issues. “It's called civilization immunity. It means that when the world has suffered a serious illness, it triggers civilization's immune system, so that something like the early Crisis Era won't happen again. Humanism comes first, and perpetuating civilization comes second. These are the concepts that today's society is based on.”

“Emancipation of human nature inevitably brings with it scientific and technological progress.”

“From now on, just think about how to live a good life. That old revolutionary slogan is just an adaptation of the old saying from the Golden Age: 'Make time for life, or life won't make time.' To new life!”

Make time for civilization, make time for life

For Zhang Beihai, this was another aspect of modern technology that few people had imagined: the elimination of single-purpose facilities. Only the first tendrils of this trend had appeared on Earth, but it was part of the fundamental structure of the far more advanced world of the fleet. This world was spare and simple. Devices were no longer permanently installed, but would appear when necessary at any location required. The world, made complex by technology, was becoming simple again, its technology hidden deeply behind the face of reality.

Under maximum propulsion, the ship's acceleration could reach 120 gs, but this exerted a force more than ten times what a human could tolerate under normal conditions. To go to maximum, they had to enter a “deep-sea state,” which consisted of the cabins being filled with an oxygen-rich “deep-sea acceleration fluid” that trained personnel could breathe directly.

Floating in space five kilometers away from the station were the most peculiar objects in the Solar System: a set of six giant lenses, the top one 1,200 meters in diameter, and the five below it slightly smaller in size. This was the latest incarnation of the space telescope, but unlike the previous five generations of the Hubble, this space telescope had no barrel, or any connecting material at all between the six giant lenses. They floated independently, the rim of each lens equipped with multiple ion thrusters that could precisely adjust the distance between them or change the orientation of the entire group. Ringier-Fitzroy Station was the control center for the telescope, but even from this close, the transparent lenses were practically invisible

Fog Umbrella Project

The ship itself was a metal seed carrying the total information of human civilization. If it germinated somewhere in the universe, then it might grow into a complete civilization. The part contained the whole, hence human civilization might be holographic as well. He had failed. He had not managed to spread these seeds, and for this he felt regret. But not sadness, and not just because he'd done everything he could to carry out his duty. His mind, now freed, took flight, and he imagined the universe as holographic, every point containing the whole, so that the entire universe endured so long as one atom remained. Suddenly he had an all-encompassing sense of focus, the same feeling that Ding Yi had just over ten hours ago at the other end of the Solar System on the last stage of his approach toward the droplet, while Zhang Beihai was still asleep.

Starship Earth may have few people, but it possesses a highly refined information system through which any problem can easily be put to discussion and vote by all citizens. We can establish the first truly democratic society in human history.” “That won't work either.” Zhang Beihai shook his head again. “Like those citizens said before, Starship Earth is traveling through the harsh environment of space, where catastrophes that threaten the entire world might occur at any time. Earth's history during the Trisolar Crisis has demonstrated that, in the face of such disasters, particularly when our world needs to make sacrifices in order to preserve the whole, the humanitarian society you have in mind is especially fragile.”

All communication could be accomplished through the eyes. As they stared at each other, their interlocking gazes were like information conduits linking their three souls together and communicating everything at high speed. Fuel. Fuel. Fuel.

The most reasonable guess was that it was a token of goodwill from Trisolaris to humanity, expressed through its nonfunctional design and beautiful form. A sincere desire for peace.

It was at this point that people noticed a strange contrast: The mechanical arm was obviously designed purely as a functional object, with a rugged steel frame and exposed hydraulics that felt complicatedly technological and crudely industrial. But the droplet was perfect in shape, a smoothly gleaming, solid drop of liquid whose exquisite beauty erased all functional and technical meaning and expressed the lightness and detachment of philosophy and art

as if through the silence they could hear the sound of time flowing through space

The magnified surface remained a smooth mirror

He had exhausted his imagination painting humanity's defeat in the most disastrous way possible, both for Hines's needs and for his own personal pleasure, but cruel reality far outstripped anything he had imagined.

When the images of the fleet's destruction twenty AU away reached Earth after a three-hour delay, the public behaved like a gang of desperate children, turning the world into a nightmare-plagued kindergarten. Mass mental breakdown spread rapidly, and everything went out of control.

In fact, Zhang Beihai had been exceptionally rational in his thinking. He clearly knew that Earth's suitability for human life was no coincidence, much less an effect of the anthropic principle, but rather was an outcome of the long-term interaction between the biosphere and the natural environment, an outcome that would not likely be repeated on another planet around some far-flung star. His choice of NH558J2 implied another possibility: Perhaps a hospitable world would never be found, and the new human civilization would forever voyage on a starship.

“I'm thinking too simply. There's never been an answer to this question throughout human history, so how can we solve it in one meeting? It will, I think, require a long process of practice and exploration before we can find the social model most suitable for Starship Earth. After the meeting, discussions should be opened up on the issue…. Please forgive me for disrupting the meeting's agenda. We should continue with the original topic.”

The depth and expanse of deep space exhibited an arrogance that left no support for the mind or the eyes.

The boundlessness of space nurtured a dark new humanity in its dark embrace.

The universe had once been bright, too. For a short time after the big bang, all matter existed in the form of light, and only after the universe turned to burnt ash did heavier elements precipitate out of the darkness and form planets and life. Darkness was the mother of life and of civilization.

“There are lots of people like him,” the young man said, pointing disdainfully at the weeping man. “Unsound of mind.” His eyes lit up. “Actually, doomsday is a wonderful time. The most wonderful time, even. This is the only time in history where there's a chance for people to abandon all of their cares and burdens and belong entirely to themselves. It's stupid to be like him. The most responsible way of life right now is to enjoy ourselves while we can.”

In this age, the meaning of the term “countryman” had shifted from geography to temporality. But it wasn't used between all hibernators.

But I have a small request: Can you not talk about your plan to save the world? They're always so long. First just tell me what you need me to do.

Not being able to save the world isn't your fault, but giving the world hope only to shatter it again is an unforgiveable sin.

He at once felt both the power and the powerlessness of time: Maybe only a thin layer of sand had been deposited over the course of two centuries, but the long geologic age when humans were not present had produced the mountain that now housed these graves. He

“Were you already aware that the universe is a dark forest?”

In the words of a well-known Trisolaran saying, “Hiding the self through a faithful mapping of the universe is the only path into eternity.”

It's correct, though the word “love” is a little vague in the context of scientific discourse

the_dark_forest.txt · Last modified: 2018/10/26 00:13 by nik