Three Body II: Dark Forest

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Three-Body II: Dark Forest is the second part of the Three-Body trilogy, published in 2008. It is written by the Chinese science fiction writer Liu Cixin.


The world now entered the Crisis Era. Save for a few significant technological developments such as human hibernation, no further progress could be expected from basic sciences like fundamental particle physics due to the intelon lock-down. Despite skepticism and defeatism in the general populace, world governments started efforts to counter the incoming trisolaran invasion. The UN set up the Planetary Defense Council (PDC). Major countries also began to build their own space fleets and astroforces.

At the end of her free life, in a flicker of repentance, Ye Wenjie had an unusual meeting with her one-time student Luo Gee where she suggested that large numbers of civilizations might exist in the universe, and that Luo should consider studying the sociological behaviors of these civilizations. She proposed the Two axioms of Astrociology: 1. Survival is the first need for any civilization. 2. Civilizations grow and expand, but the total quantity of matter in the universe never changes. In addition to these axioms, Ye also hinted at two intriguing concepts: Chain of Suspicions and Technological Explosion. The conversation was witnessed only by a brown ant and maybe an intelon. After the meeting, Luo Gee found himself mysteriously involved in a murdering attempt.

Over long periods of evolution, the trisolaran life form had lost the need for organs dedicated to communication. Instead, all their thinking was exposed to each other, and instantaneous communication was enabled by strong brain wave interactions. One consequence of this biological feature is, they are incapable of conspiring and deception. Based on this captured knowledge, the PDC conceived the strategic Enclosure Initiative to take advantage of the imbalance between human and trisolaran ways of thinking. The design of Enclosure is such that a small group of individuals (called Dwellers) were selected from all over the world, and bestowed the responsibility for independently devising a plan to defeat the trisolaran invasion. Although the whole world had become an open book under the constant surveillance of intelons, the human mind remained impenetrable. By principles of Enclosure, a dweller was given authority to use all the world's resources, but he must not reveal the true intentions of his action to anybody. It was hoped the dwellers would help create a labyrinth of logical traps that would ensnare the trisolarans.

Much to his surprise and dismay, Luo Gee was picked as one of the four dwellers. A careless, philandering scholar, Luo knew nothing about his destiny and tried hard to get out of this scheme. But he found it impossible to do so once being put in that position. "How do we know this is not part of your work?" Resigned, Luo decided to put his newly acquired privilege to use. With help from Captain Shi, he was able to find his dream lover in real life; the two lived a luxurious life in an isolated, unnamed place under stringent security.

In response to Enclosure, the trisolarans sought help from their collaborators on earth, the escaped members of the ETO. The latter chose amongst themselves the counterparts for dwellers, the debunkers, whose mission was to reveal and invalidate their opponents' secret plans. Each of the three dwellers was assigned a debunker, except for Luo Gee, who was said to be his own debunker, and would "directly face the lord."

The first dweller, a former US Secretary of Defence, was quickly disclosed by his debunker and subsequently killed himself after a visit with Luo Gee in his home. In public, Taylor had been seeking to turn macroscopic nuclei and sphere lightnings into weapons that could be used by the earth's space fleets in the doomsday battle with the trisolarans. Apparently, he was also looking for ways to cultivate a spirit of self-sacrifice, modern day kamikaze, amongst the astroforces. But the true purpose of his plan was to use the weapons in the first moment of the encounter to annihilate the Earth Space Fleet to turn them into quantum ghosts who would willingly continue the fight.

The other two dwellers included Manuel Rodriguez, a Chavez-like former president from South America famous for his successful deterrence of an US invasion through guerrilla warfare aided by creative weaponry produced with publicly available technology; and Hiance, a scientist turned politician from Britain. Hiance had been nominated twice for the Nobel Prizes in physics and physiology due to his ground-breaking work in brain research in collaboration with his wife Keiko. Both dwellers' plans reached the limits of human technologies (in nuclear fusion and computing) and they chose to go into hibernation until the required technologies become available.

After living in Eden for five years, Luo Gee was forced out of seclusion to conduct his work as a dweller. His wife and daughter had been taken away to be put in hibernation, leaving only a note behind that reads, "Beloved, we'll be waiting for you at the end of the world.". Prior to this, the traces left by the trisolaran fleet in stardust had been directly observed for the first time with Hubble Telescope II. The last skepticism was put to rest.

When Luo Gee finally got down to work, he found himself already half way from finding out the reason for his being chosen as a dweller. Everything must have started from that fateful conversation with Ye Wenjie. After months of concentrated meditation, Luo had a revelation one night, and discovered the dark truth about civilizations of the universe. To verify his hypothesis, Luo requested the broadcasting of a "curse", i.e., the positioning information about 87J3X1, a distant star system, using the Sun as a magnifier. Shortly after this was done, Luo was hit by a targeted release of an influenza virus, and was subsequently put to hibernation until such a day "when the effect of the curse becomes known."

In the Twelfth year of the Crisis Era, four years after Luo Gee went in hibernation, the trisolaran fleet was observed a second time as it sailed past another belt of stardust. In addition to the 1000 ships, 10 small probes were also observed to sail at accelerated speeds towards the Earth. The date when these probes were launched coincided with the date of the curse.

It only took 8 years before the technologies required by Rodriguez and Hiance arrived, and the two were waked up at the same time. But Rodriguez was debunked soon after. His plan was to deploy hydrogen bombs on Mercury, giving the human race the power to use those bombs to plunge Mercury into the Sun and wipe out life in the whole solar system. This would theoretically give the human race the leverage to bargain with the trisolaran fleet by threatening mutual annihilation. Rodriguez was killed by furious mobs when his plans became known to the public.

Hiance went on to invent a Mind Seal machine. Those who chose to be mind-sealed would firmly believe in whatever they were programmed to believe. In the astroforces, this group of people were called the Mind Sealers. Unbeknown to the world, Hiance himself was a defeatist deep-down.

Luo Gee woke up in Year 205 of the Crisis Era to a changed world. After a half-century of serious setback (the Great Recession, where two third of world population perished), the humankind was back on its feet again. Surprising technological breakthroughs (controlled nuclear fusion in particular) helped create a world of inexhaustible food supply and energy, three astroforce fleets of 2000 great battleships, and a complacent, humanistic society filled with optimism. The crisis was over, the trisolaran Invasion would surely be defeated. Luo Gee was waken up because the Enclosure Initiative was no longer needed. His mission as a dweller was terminated.

Zhang Beihai was an astroforce political officer who had been "sent to the future" from the beginning of the crisis to reinforce the astroforces in their battle with the trisolarans. On waking up, he was appointed executive CO on the giant cruiser Natural Selection. It was feared that hidden remnants of defeatist mind sealers in the space fleets might seek to escape before the trisolaran encounter. His job was to assume control of the ship and stop any such attempt. With the first of the trisolaran probes approaching, the three space fleets (Asian, European, and North American) got into a political fight for the first engagement with the alien spacecraft. As a compromise all 2000 ships were summoned back to their home base around Jupiter.

The droplet shaped trisolaran probe was met by a team consisting of a pre-crisis era physicist and 2 fleet officers. After its perfectly smooth surface formed by strong interaction was examined, the droplet came to life and started attacking at dazzling speeds. In less than 20 minutes, all but a few of the 2000 battleships were pierced by the Droplet and destroyed. This came to be known as the Doomsday Battle. Among the survivors was Natural Selection.

The whole world watched the battle in real time and was on the brink of total collapse. Even more terrifying were the ensuing Battles of Darkness which broke off in the two groups of escaped spaceships, each fleeing away from the solar system from an opposite direction. The space ships succumbed to a chain of suspicions in search for limited fuel and spare parts and started fighting each other.

Luo Gee's dweller status was reinstated after one-year-old astronomical data showed 87J3X1 had been destroyed. The Battles of Darkness further exemplified his theory: the universe is like a dark forest where every civilization is a hiding hunter; anyone exposed will be attacked and destroyed.

But the Droplet had already stationed itself between the sun and the earth and started full spectrum jamming. In the pretense of a false project to deploy hydrogen bombs on a solar orbit for spreading Oil Membrane used for the detection of the incoming trisolaran fleet, Luo finished a setup for cosmic broadcast using synchronized explosions of the bombs to create solar flares that encoded the position of the Three-Body world.

In his final confrontation (via an intelon) with the trisolarans in front of Ye Wenjie's tomb, Luo successfully negotiated an honorable peace for the Earth. Droplets left the solar system, and the invading fleet changed its course. Thus ended the Crisis Era and began the Era of Deterrence.