"Save Plan" is a science fiction novel written by American author Andy Weir and published in 2021. It tells the story of an astronomer named Grace who embarks on an interstellar adventure and friendship with an alien named Rocky from the constellation Bojiang A in order to save the Earth.
This is the best science fiction novel I have read in the past two years. If "The Three-Body Problem" is an epic of science fiction, then "Save Plan" is a refreshing science fiction.
If you are still unable to escape the impact on your mind caused by the "Dark Forest" rule of the Three-Body Problem, why not try reading this "Save Plan"? It can help dilute the terrifying influence that all alien civilizations are like Godzilla.
Reading obstacles and refreshing science fiction
I like this kind of popcorn science fiction, the silent and dark universe, shimmering with a few warm lights. Humans, carrying the continuation of Earth's civilization, travel in spaceships to find a glimmer of hope beyond light-years.
Crises come one after another when you least expect them, and as a Chinese reader, I am very afraid. Our brains have been domesticated and self-castrated to the point where we don't believe in true love in the world.
By reading this science fiction novel, I realized that there is a problem with my brain. It is not just a matter of water seepage. Various neurons have been reshaped, and synapses with free genes have been smoothed.
Not only do we castrate ourselves when expressing ourselves, but we also have castration attributes when reading.
What's going on?
Whenever a crisis occurs, I can't help but imagine that there must be a hidden conspiracy behind the story, using the "Dark Forest" rule of the Three-Body Problem to see if there is a dark logic in which one civilization tries to destroy another civilization.
I even thought about the last scene, where the τ-star worms leaked on Grace's spaceship were intentionally released by Rocky in order to not expose his own civilization.
Automatically imagining the greed behind Grace's surprised expression when he first saw the xenolith, I predict that he will definitely take action against Rocky, who has no understanding of radiation principles. I often unconsciously view the development of the story with an evil filter.
All of this is a psychological expectation built to protect oneself from harm. If someone expresses goodwill towards you in life, our first reaction is, "Are you trying to deceive me?"
Why is normal communication associated with distrust?
Because there have been too many stories of farmers and snakes in the civilization we live in, to the point where kind and generous words have become uncertain, and even the change of word class has become too fast, equivalent to despicable and shameless.
I feel ashamed of these terrible thoughts, so I am particularly afraid of seeing astonishing actions that reverse human nature in order to show the ending. Fortunately, the author did not do that.
Engineering-style hard science fiction
"Okay, no problem," I said, "I also want a gift from you: xenoliths. In solid form and prefabricated liquid form. Earth scientists will have this demand."
I thought to myself that when humans on Earth learn that the constellation Bojiang A possesses the precious resource of xenoliths, that civilization will eventually be plundered like the land and resources of the Native Americans.
Where else would you find such a lovely conversation: "I am a terrifying space monster, and you are a leaking space bubble."
In order to describe the unity of the Earth's Salvation Alliance, the book incorporates many Chinese elements, including scientists from Russia and others, abandoning various prejudices and joining forces to save humanity.
I think this part is the most science fiction part of the whole book.
The author tries to make the profound and unfathomable knowledge of physics and chemistry easy to understand. What I mean is that although I can't understand it, I understand what he is going to do next.
Once again, I feel the magic of mathematics. With just a few coordinates and various formulas, you can calculate a shortcut to solve the problem.
"Mathematics is not thinking, mathematics is a process. Memory is not thinking, memory is storage. Thinking is thinking, problem, answer. Your thinking speed is the same as mine. Why, problem?"
Mathematics is a tool used for thinking. Verified methods are stored as memories, and thinking speed is the process of extracting methods from memory and obtaining results. Therefore, thinking does not start from scratch.
For two civilizations that suddenly meet in the universe for the same purpose, how do they communicate and cooperate? The book describes this in great detail, full of imagination. It solves a question that has puzzled me from childhood to adulthood: how would I communicate with aliens if I encountered them?
Peeling away layer by layer, the basis for communication between the two civilizations: life developed under similar gravity, and the wisdom developed is also similar.
If it is a high-dimensional life, they don't need to come and discuss with ants how to transport cookies to their caves.
They communicate using programming languages, from basic concepts such as time, measurement, and scales to various variables that represent similar meanings in the two civilizations.
Therefore, Rocky's answers feel like printing logs after executing a certain program. Although the author's intention may be to allow readers to quickly distinguish between dialogue characters, it is a clever setting.
Why is this called an engineering-style hard science fiction? In addition to involving professional knowledge of physics and chemistry, Grace's ingenious problem-solving ideas when encountering various difficulties and the skillful use of DIY tools to solve problems.
The alien Rocky is set as an all-powerful mechanical engineer who can fix anything. As long as it involves structural engineering, there is nothing that cannot be solved with a wrench.
From devourer to devourer
When Grace hesitates only briefly and then rushes to save his friend when he realizes that Rocky may be in danger on his way back to Earth, I couldn't help but shed tears.
It has been a long time since I saw such a heartwarming and touching scene, that pure friendship, the sincere respect and genuine emotions from one life to another. Anyone whose heart is not completely numb will be touched.
Especially living in a cold and ruthless place, this emotional fluctuation is precious. We suppress our emotions and never easily reveal our true thoughts no matter where we are.
In the era we live in, exposing our true thoughts is an extremely dangerous thing.
Thought guards are everywhere. They are like single-celled organisms, abnormal synaptic connections through sensing others' thoughts, and then rapidly dividing and reproducing. They are the "devourers of thoughts".
If analyzed under a microscope, the brains of these devourers have evolved to be no different from maggots. Their perception of feces has become increasingly subtle.
They are good at grasping other people's thoughts, and their most common sentence pattern is, "Don't think I don't know what you're thinking!"