Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Review:Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu
I'm beginning to thoroughly enjoy the spin that Cixin Liu puts in his stories.
Of Ants and Dinosaurs is a sort of blend of analog and fable and cautionary tale. Maybe we could call it Fable -istic Fiction.
The story begins a bit like a fable in itself as the T-Rex grabs himself a meal and settles for a nice nap only to find that he's gotten some food stuck in his teeth. The ants who seem more mercenary than helpful are suffering earth quakes from the thrashing dinosaur. The ants are also hungry and thirsty. They decide the only reasonable way to stop the quakes is to help the T-Rex with his 'flossing'. This ends up serving two purposes. In dislodging the food they allow the T-Rex to settle down to a nap and they also get the benefit of a nice meal-leftovers so to speak.
This is all the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Fast forward 50,000 years and we find the evolved dinosaurs in a productive symbiotic relationship with the ants. The dinosaurs are the great minds and statesmen who have the working class ants creating their micro technologies.
Of course along with progress comes strife between dinosaur factions and war. This troubles the working class ants and they are becoming restless thinking that the dinosaurs are taking advantage of them. Eventually this leads to a strike, which is swiftly stopped because- well the dinosaurs are huge and they unify this once for action against the ants.
This creates tension between ants and the dinosaurs that leads to sabotage of the micro computing industry and attempts to assassinate key dinosaurs through some rather creative use of explosive devices and the ants knowledge of dinosaur physiology since the ants can preform micro surgeries on the dinosaurs.
Professor Joyah of the ants tries to caution her fellow ants that there are levels of the dangerous weapons of the dinosaurs that they know nothing about and that this could lead to catastrophe.
I may not be clear on what the dinosaurs and the ants represent in this analogy but I would guess that its the national political structure for the dinosaurs and the worker economic structure for the ants. The rebellion as with any rebellion might be justified but often leads to chaos before it evolves into any useful form of restructuring.
In this instance it might prove fatal.
This was a fun story to read-being a novella it seems to nicely fit into the space provided. The final outcome is predictable so the real meat of the story is how they get there. There are some amusing though thought provoking notions that build to the climax and interesting philosophical notions about what is come.
I enjoyed this as much as I might enjoy any fable finding it interesting to use the ants and dinosaurs in identifiable human situations as a means of trying to stretch the readers ability to accept the credibility of the story.
Humorous thought provoking analogs for any lover of science fiction fantasy or even fables. Not to mention the eco- political inclined.