Chapter 18 Meet-up
Novel：The Three-Bodyauthor：Cinxin Liu pubdate：2019-02-14 14:53
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Chapter 18 Meet-up
Meet- u p
The location for the Three Body players' meet-up was a small, out-of-the-way coffee shop. Wang had always imagined game meet-ups would be lively events full of people, but this meet-up consisted of only seven players, including himself. Like Wang, the other six did not look like gaming enthusiasts. Only two were relatively young. Another three, including a woman, were middle-aged. There was also an old man who appeared to be in his sixties or seventies.
Wang had originally thought that as soon as they met they'd begin a lively discussion of Three Body, but he was wrong. The profound but strange content of Three Body had had a psychological impact on the participants. All the players, including Wang himself, couldn't bring it up easily. They only made simple self-introductions. The old man took out a refined pipe, filled it with tobacco, and smoked as he strolled around, admiring the paintings on the walls. The others sat silently, waiting for the meet-up organizer to show up. They had all come early.
Actually, of the six, Wang already knew two. The old man was a famous scholar who had made his name by imbuing Eastern philosophy with the content of modern science. The strangely dressed woman was a famous writer, one of those rare novelists who wrote in an avant-garde style but still had many readers. You could start one of her books on any Page.
Of the two middle-aged men, one was a vice president at China's largest software company, plainly and casually dressed so that his status wasn't obvious at all; and the other was a high-level executive at the State Power Corporation. Of the two young men, one was a reporter with a major media outlet, and the other was a doctoral student in the sciences. Wang now realized that a considerable number of Three Both players were probably social elites like them.
The meet-up organizer showed up not long after. Wang's heart began to beat faster as soon as he saw the man: it was Pan Han, prime suspect for the murder of Shen Yufei. He took out his phone when no one was looking and texted Shi Qiang.
"Haha, everyone got here early!" Pan greeted them in a relaxed manner, as though nothing was wrong. Appearing in the media, he usually looked disheveled, like a vagrant, but today, he was dressed sharply in a suit and dress shoes. "You're just like I imagined. Three Body is intended for people in your class because the common crowd cannot appreciate its meaning and mood. To play it well requires knowledge and understanding that ordinary people do not possess."
Wang sent out his text: Spotted Pan Han. At Yunhe Coffee Shop in Xicheng District.
Pan continued. "Everyone here is an excellent Three Body player. You have the best scores and are devoted to it. I believe that Three Body is already an important part of your lives."
"It's part of what keeps me alive," the young doctoral student said.
"I saw it by accident on my grandson's computer," the old philosopher said, lifting his pipe stem. "The young man abandoned it after a few tries, saying it was too abstruse. But I was attracted to it. I find strange, terrible, but also beautiful. So much information is hidden beneath a simple representation."
A few players nodded at this description, including Wang himself Wang received Da Shi's reply text: We also see him. No worries. Carry on. Play the fanatic in front of them, but not so much that you can t pull it off.
"Yes," the author agreed, and nodded. "I like the literary elements of Three Body. The rises and falls of two hundred and three civilizations evoke the qualities of epics in a new form."
She mentioned 203 civilizations, but Wang had only experienced 184. This told Wang that Three Body progressed independently for each player, possibly with different worlds.
"I'm a bit sick of the real world," the young reporter said. "Three Body is already my second reality."
"Really?" Pan asked, interested.
"Me too," the software company vice president said. "Compared to Three Body, reality is so vulgar and unexciting"
"It's too bad that it's only a game," said the power company executive.
"Very good," Pan said. Wang noticed his eyes sparkling with excitement.
"I have a question that I think everyone wants to know the answer to," Wang said.
"I know what it is. But you might as well ask."
"Is Three Body only a game?"
The other players nodded. Clearly the question was also on their minds.
Pan stood up and said solemnly, "The world of Three Body, or Trisolaris, really does exist."
"Where is it?" several players asked in unison.
After looking at each of them in turn, Pan sat down and spoke. "Some questions I can answer. Others I cannot. But if you are meant to be with Trisolaris, all your questions will be answered someday."
"Then . . . does the game really portray Trisolaris accurately?" the reporter asked.
"First, the ability of Trisolarans to dehydrate through its many cycles of civilization is real. In order to adapt to the unpredictable natural environment and avoid extreme environmental conditions unsuitable for life, they can completely expel the water in their bodies and turn into dry, fibrous objects."
What do Trisolarans look like?"
Pan shook his head. "I don't know. I really don't. In every cycle of civilization, the appearance of Trisolarans is different. However, the game does portray something else that really existed on Trisolaris: the Trisolaran-formation computer."
"Ha! I thought that was the most unrealistic aspect," the software company vice president said. "I conducted a test with more than a hundred employees at my company. Even if the idea worked, a computer made of people would probably operate at a speed slower than manual computation."
Pan gave a mysterious smile. "You're right. But suppose that of the thirty million soldiers forming the computer, each one is capable of raising and lowering the black and white flags a hundred thousand times per second, and suppose also that the light cavalry soldiers on the main bus can run at several times the speed of sound, or even faster. Then the result would be very different.
"You asked about the appearance of the Trisolarans just now. According to some signs, the bodies of the Trisolarans who formed the computer were covered by a purely reflective surface, which probably evolved as a response to survival under extreme conditions of sunlight. The mirror-like surface could be deformed into any shape, and they communicated with each other by focusing light with their bodies. This kind of light-speech could transmit information extremely rapidly and was the foundation of the Trisolaran-formation computer. Of course, this was still a very inefficient machine, but it was capable of completing calculations that were too difficult to be performed manually. The computer did in fact make its first appearance in Trisolaris as formations of people, before becoming mechanical and then electronic."
Pan stood up and paced behind the players. "As a game, Three Body only borrows the background of human society to simulate the development of Trisolaris. This is done to give players a familiar environment. The real Trisolaris is very different from the world of the game, but the existence of the three suns is real. They're the foundation of the Trisolaran environment."
"Developing this game must have cost an enormous amount of effort," the vice president said. "But the goal is clearly not profit."
"The goal of Three Body is very simple and pure: to gather those of us who have common ideals," Pan said.
"What ideals do we have in common, exactly?" Wang immediately regretted the question. He wondered whether asking it sounded hostile.
Pan studied everyone meaningfully, and then added in a soft voice, "How would you feel if Trisolaran civilization were to enter our world?" "I would be happy" The young reporter was the first to break the silence. "I've lost hope in the human race after what I've seen in recent years. Human society is incapable of self-improvement, and we need the intervention of an outside force."
"I agree!" the author shouted. She was very excited, as though finally finding an outlet for pent-up feelings. "The human race is hideous. I've spent the first half of my life unveiling this ugliness with the scalpel of literature, but now I'm even sick of the work of dissection. I yearn for Trisolaran civilization to bring real beauty to this world."
Pan said nothing. That glint of excitement appeared in his eyes again.
The old philosopher waved his pipe, which had gone out. He spoke with a serious mien. "Let's discuss this question with a bit more depth: What is your impression of the Aztecs?"
"Dark and bloody" the author said. "Blood-drenched pyramids lit by insidious fires seen through dark forests. Those are my impressions." The philosopher nodded. "Very good. Then try to imagine: If the Spanish Conquistadors did not intervene, what would have been the influence of that civilization on human history?"
"You're calling black white and white black," the software company vice president said. "The Conquistadors who invaded the Americas were nothing more than murderers and robbers."
Even so, at least they prevented the Aztecs from developing without bound, turning the Americas into a bloody, dark great empire. Then civilization as we know it wouldn't have appeared in the Americas, and democracy wouldn't have thrived until much later. Indeed, maybe they wouldn't have appeared at all. This is the key to the question: No matter what the Trisolarans are like, their arrival will be good news for the terminally ill human race."
"But have you thought through the fact that the Aztecs were completely destroyed by the Western invaders?" the power company executive asked. He looked around, as though seeing these people for the first time. "Your thoughts are very dangerous."
"You mean profound!" the doctoral student said, raising a finger. He nodded vigorously at the philosopher. "I had the same thought, but I didn't know how to express it. You said it so well!"
After a moment of silence, Pan turned to Wang. "The other six have all given their views. What about you?"
"I stand with them," Wang said, pointing to the reporter and the philosopher. He kept his answer simple. The less said the better.
"Very good," Pan said. He turned to the software company vice president and the power company executive. "The two of you are no longer welcome at this meet-up, and you are no longer appropriate players for Three Body. Your IDs will be deleted. Please leave now. Thank you." The two stood up and looked at each other; then glanced around, confused, and left.
Pan held out his hand to the remaining five, shaking each person's hand in turn. Then he said, solemnly, "We are comrades now."
Chapter 18 Vocabulary Note
imbue...with - to make something have a quality very strongly
avant-garde - extremely modern and seeming strange or slightly shocking
disheveled - if someone's appearance is disheveled, they look very untidy
vagrant - someone who has no home or work, especially someone begs; a tramp;
abstruse - extremely complicated and difficult to understand
fanatic - someone who has extreme religious ideas and often dangerous
epic - a book, poem or film that tells a long story about brave actions and exciting events
pent-up - pent-up feeling or energy having not been expressed or used for a long time
scalpel - a small, very sharp knife that is used by doctor in operations
dissection - cutting up the body of a dead animal or person in order to study it
mien - a person's typical expression or appearance
Aztec - native Middle American people whose empire dominated central Mexico during the 14th and 15th centuries
conquistador - one of the Spanish conquerors of Mexico and Peru in the 18 century
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