cover image The Wandering Earth

The Wandering Earth

Cixin Liu. Tor, $28.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-250-79683-7

Climate change is the least worrying threat in this earth-shattering (literally) collection of 11 brilliant tales from Hugo Award winner Liu (The Three-Body Problem). In universes indifferent to humanity—filled with pragmatically minded, planet-stripping dinosaurs (“Devourer”), or where gods look to move back in with their offspring (“Taking Care of God”)—survival depends on those people brave or noble enough to take the long view, even if it takes 2,500 years to reach a new solar system, as in the title story. Despite the hardships Liu throws at his characters, he cushions his rougher truths with a wry humor; the elder humans in “For the Benefit of Mankind” pilot spaceships that “looked like an intergalactic cold-relief capsules,” and “Curse 5.0” pokes fun at Liu’s own sci-fi ambitions. While built around a hard-science outlook that acknowledges the bleakness of humanity’s chances, these stories also feature a lot of the heart and hopefulness that draw readers to science fiction in the first place. Liu conjures a sense of wonder while grounding his tales in well-wrought characters. This is a masterwork. (Oct.)