Three-Body Problem, The

Cixin Liu
Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenemonenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-06-03
You can certainly tell why this novel won the 2015 Hugo Award for best novel; such an excellent work of Science Fiction.
Reviewed: 2016-10-31
Complex Chinese sci-fi that was at times confusing and convoluted. That said, there was still a payoff to wading through the scientific jargon and reading of the numerous characters that populated the immerse narrative by virtue of discovering a unique and conceptually brilliant alternate form of reality that blurred the lines between alien life-form and virtual reality. I would've liked more closure to the book but am pleased there are additional books that follow on from here.
Reviewed: 2016-01-30

YES! Yes, YES, YES!!!! This book is AMAZING. So much gushing to do, but let's begin here: 

hated The Martian, and I formed an impression then that perhaps I just didn't like "hard sci-fi", as that supposed novel was described. But turns out, it's not hard sci-fi that I detest, it's people conveying the purpose of science as the struggle to engineer clever solutions. 

Compared to the brittleness of the theoretically deprived The MartianThe Three-Body Problem is platinum strength hardcore sci-fi, grounded firmly not only in the newest physics (from quantum to strings to particle theory), but in the philosophical foundations underlying the science (how is science like faith? how do ethics enter the world of scientific research, and where do these fields intersect? how is theory supported by experimentation? and on and on! If you've got a question about physics or the social, cultural, religious, political intersections of science and society, Cixin's got you covered). Some of his imagery is a bit... preposterous (i.e. a proton unfolded in two dimensions enveloping a planet), but technically not incorrect (it could be unfolded, theoretically, true, but I doubt we'd see it even if it were technologically possible). 

There's a lot more to love: Cixin presents significant amounts of historical detail into the Cultural Revolution, the pace of his story is impeccable, his characters are all too recognizably human (even as we may grow to detest them or to abhor their choices), and to top it all off, the novel's structure lends it a quite trippy vibe (there's people in a video game that isn't quite what it seems, there's world-wide conspiracies, secret messages being sent between worlds, chaotic-theory manifesting in strange ways, etc).

I wouldn't say The Three-Body Problem is perfect - the translation was quite choppy (I would imagine Chinese is extremely challenging to translate to English - and I'm not sure we'd be better off with a translation that's more eloquent in English but that corresponds less with the Chinese). Some questions are not considered at all (for example, if we found ET lifeforms, the chances that they'd be like us would be incredibly small). The characters are not terribly developed. 

But, whatever, you can't do everything, and for the amount of thinking The Three-Body inspires, and for the scientific, cultural, historical detail it provides: A !
 

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