Supernova Era

Supernova Era


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From science fiction legend Cixin Liu, the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Three-Body Problem, comes a vision of the future that reads “like Ursula K Le Guin rewriting The Lord of the Flies for the quantum age.” (NPR).

In those days, Earth was a planet in space.

In those days, Beijing was a city on Earth.

On this night, history as known to humanity came to an end.

Eight light years away, a star has died, creating a supernova event that showers Earth in deadly levels of radiation. Within a year, everyone over the age of thirteen will die.

And so the countdown begins. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge needed to keep the world running.

But when the world is theirs, the last generation may not want to continue the legacy left to them. And in shaping the future however they want, will the children usher in an era of bright beginnings or final mistakes?

"This audacious and ultimately optimistic early work will give Liu's English-reading fans a glimpse at his evolution as a writer and give any speculative fiction reader food for deep thought."Shelf Awareness

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250306036
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 10/22/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 78,113
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

CIXIN LIU is a prolific and popular science fiction writer in the People's Republic of China. Liu is a winner of the Hugo Award and a multiple winner of the Galaxy Award (the Chinese Hugo) and the Xing Yun Award (the Chinese Nebula). His novels include The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death's End. He lives with his family in Yangquan, Shanxi.

JOEL MARTINSEN is the translator of The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu and (with Alice Xin Liu) of The Problem With Me, a collection of essays by Han Han. His translations of short fiction have appeared in Pathlight, Chutzpah, and Words Without Borders. He lives in Beijing.

Table of Contents

Prologue 13

1 The Dead Star 17

The End 17

The Midnight Sun 23

2 The Selection 30

A World in a Valley 30

The State 51

3 The Great Learning 56

The World Classroom 56

The Chief of General Staff 73

MSG and Salt 81

4 Handing Over the World 88

Big Quantum 88

Dry Run of the New World 91

The Epoch Clock 96

The Supernova Era 104

5 The Era Begins 109

Hour One 109

Suspension 125

6 Inertia 138

Inspection 138

The National Assembly 143

A Country of Fun 152

Debate 164

7 Candytown 169

Dreamtime 169

Slumbertime 177

8 Candytown in America 188

The Ice Cream Banquet 188

Candytown in America 210

World Games 221

9 The Supernova War 225

Antarctica 225

Games of Blood and Iron 248

A Thousand Suns 274

The CE Mine 284

Counterattack 287

Blizzard 292

10 Genesis 303

A New President 303

A Visit 310

New World Games 313

The Exchange 317

The Decision 320

The Great Migration 324

Genesis 334

Epilogue: Blue Planet 336

Afterword 345

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Supernova Era 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
jeddunn 4 months ago
This is the first book I have had to read by the author Cixin Liu , but he has been on my TBR ( to be read) list for a while. I found this book excellent in the prose of what would happen in a world without adults, there were definite similarities to Lord of the Flies, ( looking at you Piggy), I definitely put on my spectacles * wink* for my reading. This offered a new perspective on a global scale for sure. I loved the inclusion of modern technology and the look at what the future may bring as far as technological advancements, and the grasp of the child psyche more than the modern interpretation. I would most definitely recommend this book to any sci fi fans, dystonia fans, or my high school freshman English teacher Mrs. Mack if your out there pick this one up after Enders game and lord of the flies.
Anonymous 14 days ago
I want to start this off by saying I thought this book's plot had a lot of potential. But the book didn't meet expectations. First off I understand when a writer is creating an apocalyptic world there needs to be a lot f world building and background. But there was way too many details and most of them were scientific and not understandable. You can tell that the author did a lot of scientific research writing this book but it made me feel like I was reading a textbook. The plot was also very slow. I would skim over the scientific explanations and look for the storytelling element of the book. But it was quite rare to find. I honestly didn't even make it through the entire book. I think the story overall had such potential. It reminded me of "Lord of the flies" or "Gone" by Michael Grant, but unfortunately that potential din't pan-out.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Rough Start I had read the first impression for this one and felt pulled into a different scientific world unlike our present. The cover provided the science fiction feel. It was really intriguing to see that it was not originally written in English. I like the premise of a world where children will grown up and run things as their parents will no longer survive due to the impending scientific crisis. However, I did find myself struggling to finish this one. It had a great storyline, great characters, but it fell flat in the writing structure. The story was written with normal dialogue, paragraphs, etc, but it also inserted coding structures and computer language that was difficult to decipher for the plot. I understand the significance of it, but for someone already not into science fiction, it forced me to push through the story and struggle instead of simply enjoy. The story and language was just hard to follow.
TattooedBibliophile 4 months ago
"The future's so cool I can't decide. But whatever I do, I want to be the best!" Through a cosmic disaster, children 13 and under inherit the earth. The adults are dying of radiation poisoning. They have 1 year to prepare the children. So everyone takes their kids to work and trains them, from teachers to fighter pilots. The children shall continue the world as it was before. But once the adults are gone, the children discover that basic human psychology will not allow them to continue as the adults did. Who wants to go to school and work all day with no play? Certainly not the majority of the new workforce, who are between 5 and 10. But they must endure. What kind of world can they make when they are all just kids? As a mother myself, this beats the hell out of any old horror novel. Children under 13 running the world? Operating nuclear plants? Policing the streets? RUNNING THE MILITARY? My blood runs cold just thinking about it. I was instantly enthralled by the very unique premise of this book. A Dystopian Lord of the Flies. The writing was just perfection. I never had to wonder what the writer meant, it's all very clear without being bogged down with way too many sci-fi imagery details, which TBH sometimes ruin this genre for me. I want futuristic, but I'm not a mechanic or a scientist, so sometimes I find the long explanations of the future technology detract from the story. Not here. It is the perfect balance of what and why, without so much of the how that I forget what was happening when the description started. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, but mainly because I wanted more. The premise of this story is so strange, the uniqueness of the plot kept me riveted. There were some things I wish the author would have addressed that nagged at me through out the book, such as what about siblings? What about mass PTSD, which should have been inevitable with an entire world of children abandoned. 3 starts, good writing and interesting story, would not reread.
ultralurkykitty 4 months ago
Supernova Era has a really interesting premise - what would happen if only those 13 years and under survived an apocalyptic event, in this case a supernova star showering earth with deadly radiation. It is well written and engaging. It is an idea and concept based book rather plot based, as many of the things that happen are completely unrealistic, e.g., 13 year olds learning to fly fighter and commercial planes in six months. There is also no discussion about what must be the inevitable high infant and early childhood mortality that would occur. It is a difficult book for parents to read as there are large numbers of children who die as a result of their own society’s bad decisions. However, this is the kind of book that will be fodder for long and interesting discussions. How would you prepare children for a world without adults?
iamree 4 months ago
I was not familiar with the works of Cixin Liu and looked forward to reading his science fiction tale, SUPERNOVA ERA. The English translation is, apparently, new, but it was published in China 15 years ago. The author wastes no time in establishing a sense of doom: a teacher is very ill at ease and people are referred to as “carbon life forms.” When scientists start panicking after taking blood samples from random citizens and 43 students in China are suddenly loaded onto a bus at the order of a totalitarian government, it still is not clear what world event is unfolding. The author peppers his story with enough scientific jargon to lend credibility to the crisis – massive doses of radiation from a dead star. The rest of my review from this point on might contain some **spoilers ** Older people (parents) seem destined to certain death in a short period of time, but children for some reason are going to be able to survive. For this reason, there is a frantic effort to teach them all of the adult information they need to keep society going and not fall back into the Dark Ages. Is it possible in a one-year period? However, the world is not going to go on as it has been in modern times because children become frustrated with the work; it is not just a game after a while. About one-third of the way into the novel, some children even say to go ahead and do them a favor by shooting them. Sadly, the world is losing a wonderful part of life on planet Earth because animals start to die. This is not just a dystopian science fiction world but also a bit of a political commentary: the children of the United States are obsessed with guns. They were, in fact, provided with them to shoot children. Migration begins to other planets. If I were a die-hard science fiction fan, I might have rated this a 5 instead of a 4. I think the book is worth reading, and I always enjoy an introduction to an author that was not previously on my reading list. This is my honest review after receiving an ARC from Tom Doherty Associates Book.
JNHK73 4 months ago
A star has died creating a supernova event that showers the earth with radiation. Within a year, everyone over the age of thirteen will die. Parents apprentice their children and try to pass on the knowledge they'll need to keep the world running. Sounds interesting, right? Well, in the beginning I was enjoying the book very much. It was a promising story... until the adults died... then it just got a little ridiculous... a little too grand... and a lot unbelievable. At first I thought: Ok, a Lord of the Flies scenario on a global scale... cool. But the children didn't act like children. And they definitely didn't talk like children. And there was no way they could have learned so much in such a short period of time. The plot went off the rails. Then it crashed. Then it burned. 2.75 stars rounded up to 3 because some of it was good.
Jodi Wiggins 4 months ago
Cixin Liu's Supernova Era begins with an intriguing premise--radiation from a supernova hits Earth, and everyone on the planet who is over 13 is dying. For some reason, the 13-year-olds might have a chance, and the children 12 and under will survive mostly unharmed. That is, if they and their older siblings can raise them into adults. I admit I had difficulty understanding how this would work; however, the premise is the point, not how it happens. The adults have about a year, in which they are getting sicker and sicker, to train the brightest of the older children in disciplines ranging from medicine to engineering to politics. They build a sophisticated second internet as a gift to the children. They hope that the children will at least be kinder and less prone to war than themselves. Then they die, and the action really starts when three Chinese 13-year-olds take the reins of their country, whether they're ready or not. But hey, most 13-year-olds think they know everything, right? Supernova Era has been compared to Lord of the Flies on a macro scale. The comparison is justifiable. World-running, even world-maintenance, is hard work for anyone, let alone children and teens. Some of the children see no reason to consider anything the adults told them anymore. Others get exhausted, bored, and ready to give up. Liu's tone is a bit dispassionate, but conveys what is happening to both individual children and the world. The writing is stilted in places. However, it has been translated from Mandarin Chinese to English, so I am not certain whether Liu or the translator is at fault here. The technological and political aspects also seem a bit dated. Supernova Era was originally published in Mandarin Chinese in 2003 and written years before then, so that makes sense. This isn't my favorite sci-fi novel, but Supernova Era does have interesting insight into human nature and Chinese culture. Give it a go, then give it to your favorite 13-year-old when they're being a pest. Thanks to BookishFirst for a free ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
AOMullan44 4 months ago
3.5STARS Humanity's darkest hour...its future in the hands of children! Cixin Liu’s newest novel Supernova Era was entertaining rand unique. I was immediately pulled into this story and completely captivated by the unfolding events as the author described the Dead Star and its journey through space and time. The introductory statement- “In those days, the earth was a planet in space. In those days, Beijing was a city on Earth.” sent chills down my spine as the author sets the stage for this amazing, emotionally charged, and spectacularly imaginative science fiction journey. Supernova Era was originally written in Chinese in 2004 and was wonderfully translated into English. I totally enjoyed this book and the author’s descriptive, often poetic, writing style. His many philosophical statements and ideas were very thought provoking and brilliant. The characters in this story were all really well developed and the plot was extremely well thought out and detailed. I appreciated how the author not only told the story but also incorporated the science behind the Dead Star, historical events, interviews, communications and witness statements to take the reader on a unique journey to the Supernova Era. Supernova Era begins in Beijing, China. On this night Ms. Zheng and her forty-three students are having a middle school graduation party. As they look into the night’s sky the Dead Star appears suddenly and showers the Earth with deadly levels of radiation. Soon it is determined that within one year everyone over the age of thirteen will die from the fallout. China quickly comes up with a plan to establish new leaders and to pass on as much knowledge as possible to the children with the hopes that the children will succeed in keeping the world running. Three children from Ms. Zheng’s class are tasked with running the government but is it possible to properly prepare the children to run the world? Despite all the best efforts to prepare the children, is it possible to predict what their world will be like? The three students tasked with running the government take their responsibilities seriously. Initially, chaos takes over but using the resources left to them (Big Quantum) they quickly calm down the distraught children. For the first couple of months things seem to be running smoothly. However, having to work at adult jobs all day and then taking classes at night soon becomes overwhelming. The children become tired, bored and decide to stop going to work. The children desire to create a more fun based world than the one left to them by their parents. This desire to play is a worldwide one which leads the children to come up with a global war game that takes place in Antarctica. These games become the most violent and bizarre games the world has ever experienced. I really enjoyed reading this book. The children’s response to their new responsibilities was authentic and believable. The first half of this book was outstanding and I devoured it! However, the second half was overly detailed and bizarre. The second global game was somewhat disturbing and confusing and then the book abruptly ended. Although I enjoyed the overall experience, the ending and the Epilogue left a lot of unanswered and frustrating questions. Despite the ending, I found myself thoroughly pulled into this story and completely invested in the outcome. Thanks to Tor books and BookishFirst for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Alliespeaks 4 months ago
It's been years since I've read Lord of the Flies but I remember being not just totally sucked into the story but also a little weirded out by the story. I mean come one an island full of kids and they end up eating each other, that's creepy. The first whole chapter of the book is full of very technical sciency things. I'm not a scientist, and while I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, it made it hard for me to get into the book. I kept needing to stop and think about what was being said. I honestly, thought it'd be more important to the story line than it actually was, so don't let all the science specifics detour you. They do pop up quite a bit through out the book, and while the comments make the tasks the kids have forced upon them seem even heavier, they are not the main purpose of the story. I really enjoyed the overall story line of the book. A star in another milky way dies and centuries later the light and excess from the star reaches Earth. While it's presents is only seen for a week or so, the levels of radiation it's exposed humans too is unprecedent. Apparently, people 13 years or younger are able to rebuild the hurt cells while anyone older than that will never be able to recover. Because of this the adults of the Chinese society (and every other society on earth) are attempting to teach their middle schoolers how to run everything from surgery and the post office to diplomatic meetings and governments as a whole. The writing itself isn't flowy. I normally prefer more prose in my writing rather than then more factual writing. This may be due to the fact the book's original language is in Mandarin (I believe), but Liu's writing style is very direct. I really think it's more just a language change and the expectations we have with the English language versus the more direct language of Mandarin. Either way the directness of the story is my biggest complaint. The story is good. The book is a quick read and I actually enjoyed it. I'd only give it ★★★ though because it didn't WOW me. Maybe I'm just comparing the story to much to Lord of the Flies but that's how the cookie crumbles.
Breywar 4 months ago
I don’t even know where to begin with this. It started out harshly for the first like 75 pages as a 1 Star read, then the next 150 pages were easily a 4-5 star, and then the last 100 pages was a 1 Star. So I’m giving it a 2 star rating. The beginning was slow. A lot of buildup for very little happening. The parts at the beginning of the supernova era were super interesting, to know how the kids took on becoming the government, and saved them. The candytown and slumbertown sections were super interesting, and real sounding, and then I was super hyped for the Olympic Games, and then I wanted them to be over. And then the was the section on switching countries, I’m still confused by that. 1.) why was that necessary? 2.) a country that already killed 500,000 kids comes to you with an idea that doesn’t make sense, and they admit it’s because they think they can get their territory back in 5 years, also they nuclear bombed you during the games despite that heavily being against the rules, why would you agree??? Wins: - I loved the characters. They were all very complex and very different, despite being 13 or younger. They had good storylines, and even their teacher was a really good character, until she wasn’t in the story anymore. -unique. Honestly part of me sat here thinking “another book where adults die and kids take over, here we go again!” But it was really different from every book with the same synopsis. I really enjoyed the idea of it, and that were just getting a brief history look. -written like a futuristic history book. That was honestly a really cool way to do it, it reminded me of World War Z, which is an all time favorite of mine. Opportunities: -I know they’re children, but the juvenile ness about their attitudes, and how not a single one of them cared about their existence, didn’t want to work, didn’t store up food. There was 100 pages of the adults handing over the reigns slowly, and apparently they didn’t mention how crucial them working was to them living, I doubt that. -the Olympic Games. I don’t think in any situation, a kid is going to run forward after all of his friends have died in the same activity and want to do the same thing. It was 82 pages (ONE CHAPTER WAS 82 PAGES!) of death that didn’t make sense, there was an attempt to justify it saying kids didn’t care about living, that I strongly disagree with. If I got blown up in a tank and survived, no ones reaction would be “let’s do it again”. I thought I was going to love the Olympic Games, and they were obnoxious and dragged for almost 90 pages. -everything, and I mean EVERYTHING was over explained. Paragraphs and paragraphs of senseless writing that you could skip and wouldn’t miss any plot lines. It got super tedious towards the end, against during the Olympic Games, that i was seconds away from DNFing this book, until skimming it for vital info saved it. So recap, this wasn’t my favorite, nor was it my least favorite book ever read. The writing grew super tedious, the main plot just kinda wasted into a pointless section of the book, that followed through to another pointless exchange that just made me roll my eyes and cringe. And that’s how the book ends, with an event happening that was very unnecessary. There were good elements. I really liked the Chinese government, pages 100-200 were pretty good, lots of good plot going there until it genuinely went nowhere that mattered. 2/5 stars is my final verdict.
SharSam 4 months ago
Complex, dynamic, thought-provoking, unexpected. The novel's story is written from a historian perspective, detailing what happened within the three years of the Supernova Era. It's a world populated by children from new born babies to 11 years old. The perspective from children during this time I felt was fascinating. Their main challenge was overcoming inertia, and wanting to have fun instead of working. I found myself wondering what I would do at that age. The novel made me think deeply about what's currently happening with our world. The Epoch Clock left me sitting in silence, pondering how that relates to common historical events and potential future disasters. This is definitely a novel that should be discussed and talked about between groups of people. The ending was a surprise for me, not what I was expecting. The war games scene for me went on too long, that's why I gave the book four stars instead of five. If you like science fiction, this is highly recommended. Thank you Bookishfirst and the publisher for the chance of winning this fantastic entertaining novel.
wordsandpeace 4 months ago
VERDICT: Brilliant mix of science-fiction and sociology. What are our and our children’s main interests in life? What picture does it give us of our world tomorrow? Wow, after three meh books, I hit the jackpot with this stunning work of science-fiction/sociology/foreign affairs. Yes, Supernova Era is all that, and so well orchestrated. Plus, it’s written by THE Chinese master of science-fiction, Liu Cixin, a nine-time winner of the Galaxy Award (China’s most prestigious literary science fiction award), among many other Chinese and international awards. A supernova has just exploded near planet Earth, and because of the heat and radiation, human chromosomes are damaged. As a consequence, everyone older than 13 is going to die. I hear you, yes, wow! Scary thought. 13 year olds and younger kids will survive, because their chromosomes will heal. So adults have at most twelve months to train and prepare their children to run the world and learn everything, from performing surgeries, to flying planes, operating a nuclear plant to produce electricity, etc. Talk about a coming of age novel! The beginning of the book focuses on this preparation, mostly in China, and especially on a class with a few brilliant children that we’ll follow throughout the book. Then we have the transition, when all the adults end up disappearing, and then how the children manage the world. If you remember Lord of the Flies (actually referenced on page 229), by William Golding, and the movie Wild in the Streets, you know you can’t expect everything to be rosy. What really fascinated me in this work, is how the author takes some elements that are essential in our current society (sorry, telling you which would be a spoiler), and how he uses them to illustrate the evolution of this children world. It seems the social or sociological dimension is something you can find in several books by Cixin Liu, and this works perfectly with science-fiction. So for me, this novel is a wonderful analysis on our current world, and what can happen if we don’t address certain issues. Among the characters is Specs, the rather typical awkward kid with thick glasses. He is however the thinker and the philosopher, and the others do respect him for his wisdom and for trying to find solutions. This adds another level of depth. Incidentally, there are funny (dark humor) passages on the US, with its young president being a total and obnoxious jerk (though he does ultimately have a redeeming behavior). And oh, that president gets impeached… The book comprises some real scientific and astronomical data. I was intrigued by some information, so I checked, and it is apparently all correct. The writing is superb, with a great flow to it, and I can only congratulate the translator! I enjoyed a lot the opening of the book with its theatrical zoom. I just found chapter 9 too long, though its details do make sense for the entire plot. And the ending in Chapter 10 and in the Epilogue is both very clever and shocking.
Haylee42 4 months ago
In candor, I cannot remember a time when my mind has felt so utterly blown as it does upon completing this work. This novel is nothing short from a literary masterpiece that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and releasing breaths of air you never realized you were holding. This novel takes you through the psychological, sociological, and political distress and advancements that these newly orphaned children face, while still holding on to the promise of a better future. Even from the very beginning the novel plays on your emotions and takes you through a rollercoaster of feelings as you watch these children grow and mature, quickly loosing their childhood and childlike innocence as they are forced to become adults in an adult-less society. In a loose way, this book seems to have some Lord of The Flies (William Golding) vibes, and maybe a little Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) a bit deeper in the novel. Supernova Era is essentially one of a kind, and it would honestly be a misfortune for anyone to miss out on this work.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I typically enjoy science fiction/fantasy. I also have an enjoyment for astronomy. Sounds like a good combination when this book is factored in. However, it failed. Miserably. I do not take any enjoyment out of writing two, or even one, star reviews. Authors put so much time, energy and life into writing these books that it greatly saddens me when I do not find the end result enjoyable. With that being said, I would like to start out with what I did like. What worked for me: In the beginning, when we get past the science explanations (which will lose quite a few readers from the get-go if they are not fans of that type of science jargon) we get to see the supernova and how it impacts the government and daily life of every single person. There's fascination, then a weariness as things start to change and animals start to die off, then the adults start feeling their mortality and what it means for their children who, fortunately, will survive. As an Auntie, I absolutely love my nephews. I often joke with my sister-in-law that I make mama bear look positively harmless. I could feel the fear of the adults and how they wanted to ensure the survival of the children. I found myself cringing in sympathy when the adults finally handed over the world to the children, who they taught all that they could in their remain time, and knew that their time was up. That had to be one of the most difficult parts of the book. I enjoyed how the children seemed to work together at first. What didn't work for me? It is hard to go into details without having spoilers, but from the 200ish page mark, it got ugly real fast. I did not enjoy how the American kids were portrayed. It was not truly realistic and neither were how children of other countries were described in how they handled their knew world power. Maybe I'll be in the minority for my dislike the book. I honestly hope that I am one of the very few. I want this author to grow and continue on writing books that people will enjoy. This book simply was no for me. One thing I always like to mention at the end of every not-so-stellar book review: Don't take my word for it! Give it a try for yourself. You never know until you try and judge it for yourself. Happy reading!
Juinnye 4 months ago
What happens when every person over the age of thirteen dies within a year? This book covers such a cool premise, and the author does it in such a skillful way, you can't help but wonder what comes next! The first 1/6 of the book covers what the adults do with the information, but then the adults do ultimately die, and WHAT? you've got 7 year olds calling 13 year olds in government leadership positions for help. You've got anyone 8 years and up doing all the jobs from driving cars, to welding, to operating big manufacturing machines. It's just crazy, and it gets crazier, but in a believable way. The only place I started to skim or lose interest was the highly technical sections on war weapons (yes, those are featured, too). A very neat though experiment that piqued my interest and entertained me so much! Who knew I was a semi-sci-fi fan?!