This is possibly the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read. It starts by tapping into a general feeling that scientific progress has stalled recently, which I think lots of engineers appreciate… and then it launches into an incredibly imaginitive plot that mixes fundamental science, world politics, and deep (if not slightly ridiculous) characters.

Some great quotes:

  • But Ye had the mental habits of a scientist, and she refused to forget. Rather, she looked with a rational gaze on the madness and hatred that had harmed her.

  • To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.

  • He believed that technological progress was a disease in human society. The explosive development of technology was analogous to the growth of cancer cells, and the results would be identical: the exhaustion of all sources of nourishment, the destruction of organs, and the final death of the host body.

  • In China, any idea that dared to take flight would only crash back to the ground. The gravity of reality is too strong.

  • She stared at her father’s lifeless body, and the thoughts she could not voice dissolved into her blood, where they would stay with her for the rest of her life.

  • Shi continued to speak roughly. “So I’m working in the hope of redeeming myself by good service? I thought you told me that all my techniques were dishonest and crooked.” “But useful.” Chang nodded at Shi. “All we care about is if they’re useful. In a time of war, we can’t afford to be too scrupulous.”

  • I’m a simple man without a lot of complicated twists and turns. Look down my throat and you can see out my ass.

  • So much information is hidden beneath a simple representation.

  • In this gray life, a dream appeared especially colorful and bright. But one always awoke from a dream, just like the sun — which, though it would rise again, brought no fresh hope. In that moment Ye saw the rest of her life suffused with an endless grayness.