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Once 'Ball Lightning' Gets Rolling, This Sci-Fi Mind-Bender Shines

“球状闪电”滚动之时,《球状闪电》闪耀之世

August 19, 2018 10:00 AM ET

Colin Dwyer 撰写

Somewhere deep in Siberia, a strungout Russian scientist has a little wisdom to offer.

西伯利亚的某个深处,一个俄国老酒鬼科学家有点人生哲理要分享。

Wedged into the cabin of a geriatric biplane, flanked by a pair of nervous new acquaintances, Dr. Alexander Gemow has been asked about the aircraft's fitness for flight. It's just sputtered to a halt on a snowbeaten tarmac — and while their drunk pilot has jogged it back to life, Gemow's fellow passengers understandably wonder what would happen if the ancient aircraft should die again, you know, after it takes off.

亚历山大·格莫夫博士挤在一架老式的双翼飞机的机舱内,两位新结识的伙伴把他夹在中间,紧张地问他飞机的飞行状况。就在刚刚,停在大雪覆盖的停机坪上的飞机的轰鸣声停了下来;在醉酒的飞行员上蹿下跳地把飞机重新启动的当口,格莫夫的两位旅伴理所当然地提出疑问:如果这家老式飞机再次宕机怎么办?当然指的是起飞后。

"In Siberia," comes his less than inspiring reply, "a one hundred percent guarantee isn't necessarily a good thing. Sometimes you fly all the way only to discover it would have been better to have fallen halfway."

他的回答很“鼓舞人心”:“在西伯利亚,什么都百分之百保险不一定好,有时你飞到了头,却发现还不如中间掉下来。”这段话大概在书的三分之一处。

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And it's not just a product of Liu's fertile imagination. It's a real, if little understood, phenomenon.

这并非来自于刘慈欣丰富的想象力,而是真实却少为人知的自然现象。

In the book's opening pages, we meet Chen at the eerie moment that shaped his life: the birthday party at which the beautiful ball of death claimed both his parents' lives.

在本作的开头,陈出场于一个改变他人生的诡异时刻:在生日宴会上,一枚瑰丽的死亡之球夺走了他的双亲。

That eerie electromagnetic mcguffin gets this whole novel rolling (so to speak) in promising fashion, but it's a promise that takes a while for him to keep. As Chen embarks on his quest to comprehend his parents' killer — first in academia then through collaboration with the military — the reader must face some long, lonely stretches of apparently thin motivations, telegraphed plot twists and thickets of unexplained jargon so thick, it can be tough to find the other side.

这个诡异的电磁麦高芬,以一种很有前途(promising)的方式让整部作品运行/滚动【此处和标题中的Roll皆一语双关】起来,却也是陈想要践行但尚需时日的诺言(promise)。为了更深入了解杀害双亲的凶手,陈登上了寻求真相之旅,先是在学术圈随后又与军方合作;相应地,读者不得不面对一片漫长空虚的汪洋大海,充满了说服力显然不强的动机、一眼就能看穿的剧情反转、以及未加阐释的术语混杂,想要安然渡过登达彼岸并非易事。
【麦高芬:电影术语。简言之就是可以与主旨无关的,仅用来推动剧情发展的,无实质意义的道具/工具。】

But here's the thing: Don't be fooled by Gemow's bleak adage, the way I nearly was. This novel rewards commitment. Eventually, after the introduction of a few late-arriving characters, one of whom readers of the trilogy will recognize right away, Liu's own boundless creativity finds its footing. The wayward gears fall in line and the text shudders to life. Vivid, mind-bending life.

但请注意:别像我一样差点,被格莫夫的丧气话所蒙蔽。这本书非常值得一读。几位出场较晚的人物亮相之后,读过三体三部曲的读者会立即认出的某位角色终于登场。刘慈欣本人无尽的创意立足于该角色身上。不规则的齿轮啮合一致猛然转动,无生命的行文活了起来,鲜活而又致幻。

As the characters begin to unravel the novel's central mystery, experiment after experiment, their understanding of the world unravels with it. Chen and Lin set out toward their shared goal, the knowledge of ball lightning, following different paths — in his case, the pursuit of scientific growth; in hers, the desire for the perfect instrument of destruction.

随着书中人物逐渐解开核心奥秘,进行了一场场实验,对世界的理解也更加明晰。陈和林云虽有着理解球状闪电的共同目标,却分道扬镳:他追求科学发展,而她渴望完美的毁灭兵器。

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In other words, prepare for things to get weird — so weird, in fact, you may be inclined to sympathize with the random extra who at one point blurts out: "You look at the air and it seems so empty, not a crazy world like this!"

换言之,准备好接受事情来得古怪,古怪到你会对某个节点脱口而出“看上去空无一物的天空也是这样的一个疯狂世界!”的路人甲报以同情。

And that, in the end, makes the little irritations and leaps of logic well worth it. Therein rests the reward for seeing this thing through: the chance to see the world new.

并且书的结局部分,能弥补之前小小的不快和跳跃式逻辑的缺陷,让人觉得非常值得。全书通读之后藏着一份奖励:一个重新审视世界的机会。