I Give Up Book Review: “Chung Kuo—The Middle Kingdom” by David Wingrove (1989)

A Sci-fi, mulit-installment epic where the Chinese of the future rule both Space and Sky? Yes please!

David Wingrove’s Chung Kuo series certainly intrigued me for other reasons than those just mentioned, though normally that would be enough. For example, the concept of the building material called “ice” which allowed the Chinese to effectively build physical layers of society over the surface of the earth, one on top of another, leaving true earth a dark and lawless land full of vagabonds and assassins.

Truth be told, my kind of science-fiction has to stick with the futuristically plausible (if not slightly outrageous). This means no aliens are allowed, and earth needs to be at minimum a distant memory, if not a major character in the story. Chung Kuo succeeded in offering me these few simple qualities, so I took the bait.

But then I got about 150 into Book One, The Middle Kingdom, and I hit a wall. Already, barely a breath into the first installment, I found myself getting totally lost in its myriad of characters and plots. The freshness of it all wore off so quickly that I really couldn’t see myself hanging on for another 10,000 pages (or however many pages make up the 8-book series). Thus my cutting the chord early. Like with Frank Herbert’s Dune, I will leave this mess for the die-hard fans to consume and fawn over. I’ve got better ways to spend my time.

©2014 E.T.

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