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Summary

In a sunlit clearing in Central Gondwana, on an otherwise ordinary day in the late Cretaceous, the seeds of Earth's first and greatest civilisation were sown in the grisly aftermath of a Tyrannosaurus' lunch. 

Throughout the universe, intelligence is a rare and fragile commodity - a fleeting glimmer in the long night of cosmic history. That Earth should harbour not just one but two intelligent species at the same time defies the odds. That these species, so unalike - and yet so complementary - should forge an alliance that kindled a civilisation defies logic. But time is endless and everything comes to pass eventually.... 

The alliance between ants and dinosaurs, was of course, based on dentistry. Yet from such humble beginnings came writing, mathematics, computers, fusion, antimatter and even space travel - a veritable Age of Wonder! But such magnificent industry comes at a price - a price paid first by Earth's biosphere and then by all those dependent on it. And yet the dinosaurs refused to heed the ants' warning of impending ecological collapse, leaving the Ant Federation facing a single dilemma: destroy the dinosaurs, destroy a civilisation...or perish alongside them?

©2020 Cixin Liu (P)2020 W F Howes

What listeners say about Of Ants and Dinosaurs

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What fun

A super story with some clever digs at the humans of this planet. Very clever concept and well read, thoroughly enjoyed and will look for more by this author and narrator.

3 people found this helpful

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  • GW
  • 13-02-21

Poetic license on history with a lesson for now

This is another great book to get people into Liu's work. Thought provoking and detailed yet lightweight and fun. He hints at the story in other works, but delivers a riveting story you can finish in one afternoon.

3 people found this helpful

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History of two species.

Perhaps something is getting is lost in translation. This book is perhaps directed specifically for a Chinese audience. I found it difficult to suspend disbief and felt the opportunity for a cracking story was missed. Both species were anthropomorphised far too much and the ant's behaviour and communication was not plausible to any degree. Their anatomical explorations of dinosaur anatomy was frankly laughable. How they understood the dinosaur's verbal and written language was just impossible and the author lost me right there. Sadly I am not interested enough to finish this book and am returning it.

3 people found this helpful

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3/5

I'm sure that this tale was supposed to contain a profound meaning and possibly delivered some. The fable itself is bizarre to the point of almost losing that meaning though. Taken as just a speculative story about ants and dinosaurs it was enjoyable if slightly odd.

The good:
- Very detailed and clearly explained the rise of civilisation and the political relationships between different factions.
- The narration was great and the narrator did a fantastic job conveying the story.

What could have been improved?:
-The message could have been better conveyed. The ways it had to bend to fit the odd narrative diluted its message.
- Lots and lots of names that when listening via audiobook are difficult to distinguish.

Overall, an interesting read, probably more suited to those who enjoy speculative fiction, satirical but message-laden stories and political metaphors.

2 people found this helpful

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An interesting idea rather than an interesting story

The idea is interesting, but the execution of the story itself less so. Unlike his excellent Three Body Problem trilogy, this is written in the style of a fable, with little sense of individuation of characters.

Part of my problem might be that I’m already fully in agreement with the moral of the story (don’t wreck the planet), so there wasn’t any kind of ‘aha’ moment for me.

I think this might have been better as a short story rather than as a short novel.

2 people found this helpful

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Doesn't quite work

It's a fun concept - what if there was a civilisation in the Cretaceous, founded on a partnership between ants and dinosaurs? Of course, we know how it all ended - the dinosaurs wiped out by a huge rock from space slamming into the Yucatan Peninsula; the ants surviving, but only as mindless insects. The trouble is, Liu doesn't quite pull it off, for two main reasons.

One is that anyone with sufficient interest to want to listen to this story probably has some baseline knowledge about dinosaurs - that they came in a large variety of shapes and sizes, were probably warm-blooded, and died out as described above. But the story doesn't fit with these known facts. Maybe I'm nit picking, but it offended my inner four-year-old - Stegosaurus and T. rex didn't exist at the same time, and without wanting to give the end away, it doesn't fit with the space rock thing.

An even bigger problem though is the lack of nuance. There are only five characters: Arrogant Leader (dinosaur); Slightly Less Arrogant Leader (ant); Gung Ho Military Leader (dinosaur); Gung Ho Military Leader (ant); Honest Scientist (ant). No corresponding dinosaur scientist, honest or otherwise. The ants are a lot more sympathetic than the dinosaurs, though neither come out looking that good by the end.

Yes, I know it's an allegory, an instructive fable. But it would work a lot better if it reflected the reality that disasters happen even when there are people of good will and intelligence working on both sides.

1 person found this helpful

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Thoroughly Enjoyable Idea

A very interesting play on what might have been. Reminded me of Empire of the Ants by Bernard Werber.
Lovely pacing, practically nothing inappropriate for younger readers, clever ideas and a nice translation.
Having seen the Wandering Earth this makes me want to read more of his work.
Put aside politics and enjoy!

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  • Ga
  • 08-04-22

Nice ideas

This was an interesting and different book.
Easy and quick read. Good narration. Would recommend.