Book Review — Supernova Era

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Supernova Era is a work of speculative fiction by Liu Cixin. Cixin is a nine-time winner of the Galaxy Award (China’s most prestigious literary science fiction award), winner of the 2015 Hugo Award (for The Three-Body Problem) and the 2017 Locus Award (for Death’s End) as well as a nominee for the Nebula Award.
Supernova Era is an interesting work of fiction and was written shortly after the Tiananmen Square uprising. The most difficult premise of the novel is taken care of near the beginning of the story and is put into play by a mysterious supernova. This quick pulse is needed because it requires the reader to suspend quite a bit of disbelief. However, it takes place rather smoothly and seemingly with enough “science” to explain it and before the reader can protest a “Wait, what?” the story has already moved on. This leaves the main body of the work which seems to have been influenced by Lord of the Flies and 1984. The latter may also be an influence of the Chinese society in which the author was raised. Big Quantum is a computer that monitors pretty close to anything with a computer chip, inventory, or a digitally stored record. In post 9-11 America, this may be one of the least difficult areas to grasp in the story.
With young teens left to run the world even when trained and assisted by technology, things fall apart quickly. A Thirteen-year-old is hardly ready to Prime Minister or even run a power station. Some aspects of the book and behavior are, as expected, strongly influenced by Chinese culture others are much more in tune with the video game mentality which leads to new problem-solving methods. Real-life problems emerge and must be handled in new ways. Earth has become a planet of orphans. Guidance must come from peers and without adults to moderate behavior things like alcoholism and the strong urge to shirk one’s duties and drop out are strong forces. The unasked question the book seems the answer is it doesn’t matter what kind of world we leave our children, they are going to reshape it in their own way.

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