Review of ‘Of Ants and Dinosaurs’ by Cixin Liu

An unusual science fiction novel, fun and thought-provoking. ‘It was an ordinary day in the Late Cretaceous.’ Then, two kinds of creature you’d never think of together – ants and dinosaurs – start co-operating and communicating. They become essential to the development of each other’s civilisations. But what happens when they are at war? And how did the dinosaurs really die out?

The concept might sound a little ridiculous – picturing the dinosaurs using computers or exploring space, for example – but it’s a fascinating story which works as a fable of humanity, eco warning, critique of capitalism, or any other perspective you wish to use. It could even be a tale from the future, with the whole cycle of evolution, rise and fall of empires, mass extinction events, happening over and over again. That’s a scary thought, because any species intelligent enough to invent technology that trashes the earth never learns its lesson.

The writing style is quite easy to read and is even humorous in a dark way. I liked how characters were occasionally given names, to keep us invested in a story that spans millions of years. It reminded me a little Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Children of Time.

Recommended if you want something differ-‘ant’ to read. I ‘saur’ this book at the library, was intrigued and I’m certainly glad I tried it.

English edition translated from Chinese by Elizabeth Hanlon and published by Head of Zeus in 2020.

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