Supernova Era

Supernova Era
By Cixin Liu (translated by Joel Martinsen)

In Supernova Era a nearby star explodes and the resulting radiation has the effect of fatally poisoning all the adults on Earth. Knowing they are dying, the grown-ups initiate a crash-course program for the children in order to teach them the knowledge and skills necessary for humanity’s survival.

What begins as a typical Cixin Liu story, with the government bringing scientists and the military together to solve some problem threatening the planet, turns into a broader meditation on human nature and social behaviour as the last adults die and the geopolitical games-without-frontiers of the Supernova Era get started.

It’s interesting that this novel came out at the same time as a re-release of Hugh Howey’s Half Way Home, as both books deal with young people having to create new worlds on their own. What with the recent school strikes against climate change in the news it’s a timely message (though Liu wrote the novel in 1989). But it’s also no coincidence that both books invoke The Lord of the Flies as warnings of what can go wrong in such scenarios.

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