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The Dark Forest

Book Notes

Book 2 of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series.

Okay, book two of the series, this book was not like the previous book. The previous book was a nominally self-contained book with some crazy, but ultimately believable, advanced technology. This book sorta veers sideways into, ummmmm, okay, yes, I guess, more of the person side of things.

In Chapter 41, there's a part where a bunch of military guys, full of confidence on how they are going to crush their enemy, start jockeying for position on who will attack first and where everyone else will be, because at this point, it is all about their place in military history. The fleet is then promptly and completely destroyed. The descriptions of the jockeying reminded me of the war games that the US played in the Mediterranean a decade and a half ago (found it, the Millennium Challenge 2002), where "oh, you must follow this script" instead of learning from the non-conventional war tactics that the underdog could and absolutely would use, were dismissed. Like a combatant would follow a script. Uh... no.

That said, still a good book, still a good series, still a, oh boy, satisfying read. Going to read the next one, most definitely.

It felt no sense of towering above its surroundings, because it had no fear of falling. It had been blown off of places higher than this many times without any injury. Without the fear of heights, there can be no appreciation for the beauty of high places.
Page 15

The US government said that no form of socialized technology was realistic, that it was a naïve idea, and that under the present circumstances US national security was a priority “second only to planetary defense.”
Page 46

The implications of the frustrated socialized technology movement are far-reaching, and people have been made aware that even in the face of the devastating Trisolar Crisis, the unity of the human race is still a distant dream.
Page 46

Yang Jinwen suddenly grew excited: “And if it’s really true, then the state’s a pack of morons! If anyone’s going to flee, it should be the cream of our descendants. Why the hell would you give it to anyone who can pay? What’s the point of that?” Miao Fuquan pointed at him and laughed. “Fine, Yang. Let’s get to your real point. What you really want is for your descendants to be the ones to go, right? Look at your son and daughter-in-law: Ph.D. scientists. Elites. So your grandsons and great-grandsons will most likely be elites too.” He lifted his glass and nodded. “But if you think about it, everyone should be equal, right? There’s no reason elites should get a, you know, free lunch, right?” “What do you mean?” “Everything has a cost. It’s a law of nature. I’ll spend to ensure a future for the Miaos.
Page 47

"That’s a law of nature, too!”

“Why is this something that can be bought? The duty of escaping is to extend human civilization. They’ll naturally want the cream of civilization. Sending a bunch of rich dudes across the cosmos,” he snorted. “What’ll that do? Hmph.”
Page 47

Like Evans, he enjoyed isolation, but he needed the companionship of beings other than humans.
Page 48

The Wallbreaker smiled. “My Lord, you really don’t have to worry about that at all. No large-scale flight of humanity will ever happen.”
Page 49

“The greatest obstacle to flight is not disputes among countries, either.” Then what is it? “Disputes among people. The question of who goes and who stays behind.”
Page 49

That doesn’t seem like a problem to us. “We thought so at first, but it turns out to be an insurmountable obstacle.” Can you explain? “You may be familiar with human history, but you will probably find this hard to comprehend: Who goes and who remains involves basic human values, values which in the past promoted progress in human society, but which, in the face of ultimate disaster, are a trap.
Page 50

Defeatist thinking is prevalent and spreading swiftly among the troops.
Page 77

“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 is a development and extension of techno-triumphalism and the ‘weapons decide everything’ theory that has cropped up in the armed forces in recent years. The trend is particularly pronounced among highly educated officers. Defeatism among the troops takes the following forms:

“One. Treating one’s duty in the space force as an ordinary job: despite working with dedication and responsibility, lacking enthusiasm and sense of mission and doubting the ultimate significance of one’s work.

“Two. Passive waiting: believing that the outcome of the war depends on scientists and engineers; believing that prior to breakthroughs in basic research and key technologies, the space force is just a pipe dream, and subsequent confusion about the importance of its present work; being satisfied simply with completing tasks related to establishing this military branch; lacking innovation.

“Three. Harboring unrealistic fantasies: requesting to use hibernation technology to leap four centuries into the future and take part in the Doomsday Battle directly. A number of younger comrades have already expressed this wish, and one has even submitted a formal application. On the surface, this is a positive state of mind, a desire to throw oneself onto the front lines, but it is essentially just another form of defeatism. Lacking confidence in victory and doubting the significance of our present work, a soldier’s dignity becomes the only pillar sustaining work and life.

“Four. The opposite of the above: doubts about the dignity of the soldier, the belief that the military’s traditional moral code is no longer suitable for the battlefield, and that fighting to the end has no meaning; the belief that a soldier’s dignity only exists when there is someone to see it, and when a battle ends in defeat and no humans are left in the universe, then this dignity loses its significance. Although only a minority hold this notion, the abrogation of the very worth of the space force is exceedingly harmful.”
Page 76 - 78

“Are you under the impression that the object of everyone else’s love actually exists?”
Page 92

“Sure. For the majority of people, what they love exists only in the imagination. The object of their love is not the man or woman of reality, but what he or she is like in their imagination. The person in reality is just a template used for the creation of this dream lover. Eventually, they find out the differences between their dream lover and the template. If they can get used to those differences, then they can be together. If not, they split up. It’s as simple as that."
Page 92

“How are we supposed to sleep in a state like this?” “Leave someone on watch. What good are you if you’re tired out? They may try to keep us on high alert all the time, but I maintain my own opinion of security work: When you’ve thought of everything you should, and done everything you need to, then let whatever happens happen. There’s nothing more anyone can do, you know? Don’t psych yourselves out.”
Page 94

Besides, I’m not a good soldier at all. A soldier who’s only willing to engage in a winnable war is unqualified to be one.”
Page 123

“Is steadfast faith not built upon science and reason ? No faith is solid that is not founded on objective fact.”
Page 127

“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.”
Page 138

“That approach violates the basic moral principles of modern society : Human lives come first, and the state and the government can’t require any individual to take up a death mission. I seem to remember a line Yang Wen - li said in Legend of the Galactic Heroes : 12 ‘ In this war lies the fate of the country, but what does it matter next to individual rights and freedoms ? All of you just do your best. ’”
Page 147

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds,” Allen exclaimed.
Page 149

Allen went on, “And then a man called Bainbridge followed up Oppenheimer’s statement with something completely nonpoetic : ‘ Now we are all sons of bitches. ’”
Page 149

In the east, the sun rose in overarching solemnity, as if declaring to the world, “Everything is as fleeting as a shadow before me.”
Page 149

“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.
Page 155

“Even if there were a template for a Wallfacer, Luo Ji is not entirely inconsistent with it.” “What ?” asked Kent, a little taken aback. “You’re not saying that you see a certain amount of quality in him ?” “That I am.” “Well, damn it, what do you see ?” Shi Qiang clapped a hand to Kent’s shoulder. “You, for example. If the Wallfacer mantle descended upon you, you would be an opportunistic hedonist just like him.” “I’d have broken down long before now.” “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.” “But he’s so … I mean … if he’s just carefree like that, how does it relate to the Wallfacer Project ?” “I’ve been explaining it all this time and you still don’t get it ? I said that I don’t know. How do you know that what the guy’s doing right now isn’t part of the plan ? Once again, this isn’t something for you or I to judge. Taking a step back, even if we’re correct in what we think,” — Shi Qiang drew close to Kent and lowered his voice — “some things require time.”
Page 156

“Colonel, do you believe that we can restore the spirit of armies of the past ?” “What do you mean by ‘ past ’ ?” “A wide range of time, from perhaps ancient Greece through the Second World War. What’s key is the spiritual commonalities I mentioned : duty and honor above all, and, in time of need, to unhesitatingly lay down one’s life. You may have noticed that after the Second World War, this spirit vanished from the military in democratic and authoritarian countries alike.” “The army is drawn from society, so it would mean that the past spirit you speak of would need to be restored throughout society.” “Our views agree on this point.” “But, Mr. Tyler, that is impossible.” “Why ? We have four hundred years. In the past, human society used exactly that amount of time to evolve from the era of collective heroism to one of individualism, so why can’t we use the same amount of time to evolve back ?” Zhang Beihai considered this for a moment, then said, “This is a profound question, but I think that society has grown up and can never return to its childhood. In the four hundred years that led to the formation of modern society, we see no cultural or mental preparation for this sort of crisis.”
Page 157

anything. … Mr. Luo, where is this ?” “I don’t know either.” She nodded and chuckled to herself, clearly not believing him. “I really don’t know where we are. The land looks like Scandinavia. I could call and ask right now.” He reached for the phone next to the sofa. “No, don’t, Mr. Luo. It’s nice not knowing.” “Why ?” “Once you know, the world turns narrow.”
Page 160

After a lengthy silence, Shi Qiang said, “‘ Three things are unfilial, and having no issue is the greatest. ’ 13
Page 165

The old man motioned for Tyler to sit down. “I sympathize with you. After so many years, you still don’t know what our needs truly are.” “You can tell me.” “Weapons ? Money ? No, no. What we need is far more precious. The organization doesn’t exist because of Seldon’s ambitious goals. You can’t get a sane, rational person to believe in and die for that. It exists because it possesses something, something that’s its air and blood, and without which the organization would wither away immediately.” “What’s that ?” “Hatred.” Tyler was silent.
Page 172

“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.”
Page 172

The only constant in a world of tremendous change is the swift passage of time. Five years passed like a blur.
Page 186

Pale and emaciated, he looked malnourished. His glasses sat heavily on his skinny, pale face, his neck hardly seemed able to support the weight of his head, and his suit looked practically empty, as if it was hanging on a rack. As a politician, Tyler saw at a glance that 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. In everything they do, they fear making mistakes ; with everyone they meet, they fear causing displeasure ; and they dare not take the slightest glance through the glass ceiling to a higher plane of society. Tyler detested those people. They were utterly dispensable, and when he thought about how they made up the majority of the world that he wanted to save, it left a bad taste in his mouth.
Page 190

them. Research is a process of leaping forward, and qualitative change is only produced by long - term quantitative accumulation. Breakthroughs in theory and technology are mostly achieved in concentrated bursts. …
Page 192

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.
Page 220

The owner, in his fifties, hale in spirit and complexion, sat at a workbench examining a small stone with a magnifying lens, and he greeted the visitor warmly when he saw him. 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.
Page 248

In the old - fashioned atmosphere unique to old houses, Zhang Beihai was reminded that he and his comrades were fighting for the survival of the human race, while the majority of people were still clinging to their existing lives.
Page 248

When the devil does actually appear, the best option is calmness and rationality.
Page 274

“The mental seal equals thought control,” the Japanese representative said. “Not so. In thought control, there must be a controller and a subject. If someone voluntarily places a seal in their own mind, then tell me, where is the control in that ?”
Page 274

“Emancipation of human nature inevitably brings with it scientific and technological progress.”
Page 370

Once the General Staff team had finished resetting the pupil and fingerprint data that identified the captain in the system, Dongfang
Page 382

Yanxu surrendered her pass phrase to Zhang Beihai : “Men always remember love because of romance only.”
Page 382

“The people of my time have our own ways of thinking.” “But we’re not enemies.” “There are no permanent enemies or comrades, only permanent duty.”
Page 398

“I wouldn’t usually bother the girls I liked. I believed in what Goethe said : ‘ If I love you, what business is it of yours ? ’”
Page 412

He felt a stab in his heart when the thought entered his mind, because, at this moment, love and longing were the most excruciating things in the world.
Page 470

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