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Ball Lightning

Narrated by: Feodor Chin
Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
4 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Wildly imaginative." (Barack Obama on The Three-Body Problem trilogy)

A new standalone military science fiction adventure from the New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of the Three-Body Trilogy. 

When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of the mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station.   

The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier in particle physics. Although Chen’s quest provides a purpose for his lonely life, his reasons for chasing his elusive quarry come into conflict with soldiers and scientists who have motives of their own: a beautiful army major with an obsession with dangerous weaponry, and a physicist who has no place for ethical considerations in his single-minded pursuit of knowledge.  

Ball Lightning, by award-winning Chinese science fiction author Cixin Liu, is a fast-paced audiobook about what happens when the beauty of scientific inquiry runs up against a push to harness new discoveries with no consideration of their possible consequences.  

This program is read by Feodor Chin, voice of Zenyatta in Overwatch.   

©2005, 2018 Liu Cixin; Translation copyright by China Educational Publications Import & Export Corp., Ltd. (P)2018 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, but...

I finished the Three Body Problem series, which left a vacuum in my nightly entertainment slot. I picked up Ball Lightning in hopes that it would be equally amazing, but it didn't quite hit the spot. The story took quite a bit of time to get started with the hard science fiction, I was hoping for. That said, once it started, it got quite good. Ball Lightning is a prequel to TBP, and the introduction is there on a few occasions, if you're familiar with that storyline.

The performance on the narrator is good, but I couldn't quite get used to his portrayal of the female characters. Overall, though, he did well.

I highly recommend this book for any hard science fiction fans out there. Cixin Liu is a master of his craft, and while I would have liked some differences in the storyline, it is still a great story.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Weaker Cixin book, but stellar performance

The recording for this book is fantastic, and the story is quite compelling, though much more focused in scope than the Three body series.

For fans of the other books, it's an easy recommendation, and it prompted me to re-visit the series via audible.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Most boring-fun book

Feels like an academic work of literature. Beautiful in form, and has some memorable characters. Some ppl would say it's boring, but for fans of the author is a great piece.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointing after Three Body Problem

I loved Three Body Problem. All three books were wonderfully imaginative. When I saw this follow-up, I had high expectations that were not met with this effort. There are some interesting ideas in this book, but not enough to carry it and make it worthwhile to trudge through the less-than-good prose.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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not as good as 3body story

having read 3body first i was expecting something just as good, disappointing but still worth reading, 3body is alot to live up to

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carter Hooper
  • 2018-08-22

Ate it Up With a Spoon...

I don't know how Cixin Liu does it, but he writes some phenomenal, eye-opening and mind-expanding technical stuff that goes down smooth and leaves you wanting more. What an imagination, I swear this could be real. Not since Frank Herbert has a sci-fi author come up with rich, detailed characterizations, plots and ideas. We need more of his stuff translated and I mean RIGHT NOW! Hungry for more....

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lana Lee Plum
  • 2018-10-31

The infinite state of matter.

The characters in this book come from the mind of the author of the book. It stretches your brain to believe and accept science fiction at its best. The geeks of this world and beyond will laugh and cry with the characters and the story that is told.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • tosbanzai
  • 2018-08-25

Silly title, great book

This is a great book from the same author as “The Three Body Problem” and it’s series. It takes place in the same “universe” before the Three Body Problem, but isn’t really related to it. There’s just some characters you may find recognizable, is all. Other than that, this is a great stand-alone that takes place before any of the events of The Three Body Problem.

I almost didn’t even click on the link for this book. I didn’t know “ball lightning” was a thing, and I actually LOLd IRL when I read the title, and muttered something along the lines of, “what genius picked that title?”

Then I checked the author’s name and went, “wait a second.”

Worth it. Get it. Enjoy it. And if you haven’t read the The Three Body Problem, you should, but do it after this book.

Btw, this book was written before The Three Body Problem, and it shows. It’s not as good obviously, but it’s still pretty good, and I still recommend it.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Samantha
  • 2018-09-12

Thought provoking, with compelling narration

If you've heard Feodor Chin as Zenyatta in the game Overwatch, it's strangely appropriate to feel like you're being read a book about the moral quandaries of technological innovation by his character in that game (an extremely philosophical robot, for those unfamiliar). He's got a great voice, and I enjoyed his performance of this book as well.

The story is unsettling and sometimes nightmarish, especially when exploring human motivations for scientific discovery, but there's still a hint of optimism. Recommended if you like hard science fiction or just want more from Cixin Liu!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • prograft
  • 2018-08-21

A romantic explanation to BL

This might not be the most accurate scientific explanation to the ball lightning, but it's definitely the most romantic one.
A semi-presequal to the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy (starting with The Three Body Problem)

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrea McCain
  • 2018-10-21

Just wow.

First, allow me to say how much I have enjoyed this author. I have now completed each book he has published and each time I am left stunned by the author's command over imagery and his ability to blend believable characters with fantastical science. To call the author imaginative is, I feel, an understatement. Liu is a visionary blessed with the ability to depict a believable alternate reality. The concepts he introduces in his books have affected the way I look at my own reality. The performance of the audio book was an excellent contribution to an incredible story. Liu's name will be placed among the greatest sci fi writers in history.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Boaz
  • 2018-10-19

if you loved the three body problem . a must

even though this is a prequel for the three body problem I suggest reading it as a number four book. As a super enthusiastic fan of the three body problem series this one is an excellent 4th listen

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Skarz
  • 2018-09-01

Outstanding

Extremely well written. Performance superbly done. Makes you wi ssc h there is more but eventually enough.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • SRS
  • 2018-08-23

Excellent read.

Great sci-fi story with insight into modern day China. When I was listening to it I thought it was non-fiction. The story seemed very believable.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Steven
  • 2018-08-16

Great cover....

It was a dark and stormy night, during which something interesting happened, then nothing interesting happen for a very very very long time. By the time I thought I was going to have no pulse, like the narrative arc, a few interesting things were starting to happen. But, by then I found myself playing the audio at 1.5x speed just to get through the book so I could listen to something else.

The narrator was too singsong for me. He was not dry, but in my opinion did not convey the emotions the book was trying to evoke.

Overall, the book was not bad, but it was not good. It was average and mundane. The only aspect that stood out was the Mainland China centric people and places.

The cover is great.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful