Read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin Ken Liu Online


The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon 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 destructioThe Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon 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.At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied....

Title : The Three-Body Problem
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781466853447
Format Type : ebook
Number of Pages : 330 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Three-Body Problem Reviews

  • Rick Riordan
    2019-05-06 14:58

    Adult sci-fi. By Chinese author Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem takes a classic scenario -- contact with alien life -- and cranks up the sinister factor to maximum. The story begins during the Cultural Revolution when young Ye Wenjie watches her scientist father beaten to death by fervent revolutionaries. She is sent off for hard labor at a re-education camp, but by a strange twist of fate gets a chance to work at a top secret government project seeking out extraterrestrial life. Fast forward to the present, when nanotech scientist Wang Miao is snatched up by cops and brought to a secret meeting of military officials who are fighting an unnamed enemy -- some force that is trying to destroy the roots of human science and technology by killing scientists or driving them to suicide. Wang goes undercover in this strange conspiracy when he started playing a virtual reality game called The Three-Body Problem, which only the most brilliant scientific minds can hope to beat.The premise is fascinating and well-grounded (as far as I can tell) in hard science. The book raises haunting questions: Do we really *want* to contact other civilizations? If you had the chance to pull the plug on the human race, would you do so? Is science truly objective and provable, or is it simply the best we can do given our limited understanding of four dimensions? I found the novel a bit of a struggle until about halfway in. There are a lot of characters, and many of them seem like ciphers to advance the plot or mouthpieces to espouse ideas rather than living breathing people. Sometimes the prose seems like the summary of a novel rather than a novel. However, the ideas are compelling. This is about as close to "mind-blowing" as any book I've read. If you like big ideas and fantasy based on hard science, this is worth a read.

  • Mona
    2019-04-26 12:55

    Badly Written and Ill Conceived Science Fiction with a Few Interesting IdeasI'm not sure I read the same book as everyone else. This got lots of four and five star reviews here on Goodreads. Plus, it's been nominated for both Hugo and Nebula awards.As often happens, I'm not with the majority opinion here. I give it two stars.I'm not sure if the problem was the translation, or the original text, or both. (Unfortunately I only have the audio for this, so I can't quote the text here).But I found the writing wooden, the characters two-dimensional cartoonish stick figures, and the audio narration poor. Although most of the characters are academics or intellectuals, the most believable and interesting character turns out to be a coarse and apparently ignorant policeman, She Qiang (nicknamed "Da Shi").Most of the characters are cold and unsympathetic. A few of them commit murders for which they seem entirely unremorseful. It's impossible to care about these people.And there are many unbelievable plot developments. For example, Mike Evans, an environmentalist, conveniently inherits his billionaire father's money at just the right time in the plot. I won't say much more about this as it's a spoiler.This might have been acceptable in the early years of science fiction, but now it just seems like a bad novel. As for the science...I'm not a physicist, so I can't really discuss the physics. Evidently, the three body problem has been unsolved by physicists dating back to Newton. So this part has some scientific basis. Also, the stuff about micro circuitry was interesting.But I have worked with computers for many years. The "human formation computer" (a computer powered by trained soldiers with colored flags) seems a bit silly to me, although nothing is impossible. I doubt if millions of humans could achieve the required precision. Interestingly, a minor character in the book who is an executive in a software company says the same thing.Also, the author seems preoccupied with social status. And science is held up as an object of worship.Science and technology are important, but I don't think they should be a religion (which in some quarters they seem to have become).Anyway, here's a brief summary. As a young girl, Ye Wenjie, an astrophysicist, witnesses the killing of her father by Cultural Revolution fanatics.She becomes an astrophysicist herself and is recruited for a secret Chinese science/military project, Red Coast. It's years before she learns the true purpose of the project.Meanwhile, many intellectuals are playing a video game (which requires a haptic suit), called "The Three Body Problem". The main gamer character, Wang Miao, is a professor of physics specializing in nanotech.It turns out the game and the Red Coast project are connected.They both relate to extraterrestrial life.(view spoiler)[The game transports the players to the Trisolar Universe, a universe with three suns that really exists.In most respects, Trisolar is behind earth technologically (they are playing out earlier eras in earth history), but in certain respects they are ahead of earth.Trisolar swings between "chaotic eras" and "stable eras". Both of these last for indeterminate time periods. Hundreds of civilizations there are destroyed by extremes of heat and cold produced by configurations of the three suns. Residents of Trisolar dehydrate themselves to survive chaotic eras.The game's purpose is to spread information about Trisolar among persons of high intellectual capacity and high social standing. Even though Trisolar really exists, the game plays out differently for different players. (hide spoiler)]Anyway, I won't say much more about the story. I don't want to spoil it.If you liked The Martian, you might enjoy this. The focus is technology and science, with the prose, characters, and plot being entirely secondary to the ideas. Isaac Asimov's Foundation was another book where the characters and plot were subordinate to the ideas, although I think it works much better as a novel than this does.I didn't really care for Luke Daniels' audio narration either. His voice varied from leaden in some spots to over-excited in others. And when doing foreign accents, he either exaggerated them, or in some cases, got them wrong. I'd say pass on this one, except that lots of others seem to love it. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Brendon Schrodinger
    2019-05-06 08:45

    Originally published in it's native Chinese in 2008, The Three-Body Problem has now been translated for English speakers to read and enjoy. It is the first volume in a hugely successful SF trilogy that has proved to be a popular seller in China.No matter what our opinions are on the government of China, we all know that they have a history of controlling the media. It was not so long ago that I was reading articles on how even SF stories may not be published if they contain certain themes or SF tropes that the government does not approve of such as time travel. Yet here we have a novel that Tor are willing to bring to an international English audience. So is it a matter of government restrictions being exaggerated or is it proof that art defies restrictions?While I can think about these questions I do hit a brick wall after a short while. I'm no geography or political buff. I have no ideas on these matters. But I do know quite a bit about SF and I know a little more about science and I feel that these are the most import factors when reading The Three-Body Problem. Sure it would have been great to know what the hell was going on in those early chapters during the 'cultural revolution', but I guess I was lucky to follow the story when it delved a bit into quantum mechanics and orbital mechanics. And while a reader without this knowledge would not have a problem following the story at all and could easily skim those sections, they definitely were rewarding and offered a greater depth to the story. And I'm sure that someone with a knowledge of modern Chinese history would have felt the same.Three-Body is essentially the story of two scientists, Ye Wenjie, an engineer working in a top-secret military base during the 1970's, and Wang Miao, a nanotechnologist in current day China. While events in current day China unfold for Wang, the story of Ye is told in alternate sections. The nature of the top-secret base is uncovered during the intricate story and don't worry, it's not a bad X-Files ripoff at all.But I did find Wang's story much more interesting and frightening. It explores the idea of the failure of science. What happens if over time scientific endeavours consistently defy any conjectures or postulates, refuse to comply with any previously known laws and just keep on giving random and seemingly supernatural outcomes? It may sound a bit trivial here, but the more you think about it, the more frightening it is. And the author explores this and truly did convey the horror to me as the reader. The events of this book had me tense and on-edge at several points.There really are some fascinating ideas pursued in this book and it is a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking read in the style of SF greats such as Kim Stanley Robinson and Asomiv. The style of interchanging stories with historical aspects, as well as some of the style did remind me of Murakami, but I have no idea if this is being literature racist as this is the only other Asian book I have read other than those by Murakami. It also had echoes of Neal Stephenson in that it was an intricate and baroque plot full of subterfuges and technical writing. But maybe I'm just projecting two of my favourite authors onto another book that I enjoyed.So here is one reader that is converted to the forthcoming volumes and possibly converted to reading more international SF. Both Stanislaw Lem and the Strugatsky brothers failed to take my interest, but Liu Cixin has managed to produce something that I really did enjoy and also made me think big thoughts.September 2016 Reread:Nothing has changed, but I put my star rating up. It is a special read that I enjoyed just as much the second time around. Yes, there were very little surprises, but I appreciated the pacing and understood more about the characters and the history. I saved my reading of Book 2 and 3 until they were all out. I'm too old and there are too many other books to read to have to reread a series each time a new volume comes out.See you all for for Book 2 review.

  • Petrik
    2019-05-11 14:44

    3.5/5 StarsThe Three-Body Problem may be one of the most critically acclaimed Sci-Fi novels of our modern age, and in my opinion, it truly deserved the recognition for all the Sci-Fi ideas and narrative, but not for the characterization.The Three-Body Problem, the first book in Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Cixin Liu, was actually something I never heard of despite its apparent popularity until I stumbled upon an interview with Barack Obama. He stated that this is one of his favorite novels, Mark Zuckerberg agreed and said the same thing, and that made me decided to give it a try. Plus, the cover for this trilogy is gorgeous. Most of you probably already know that TTBP won Hugo Award for best novel in the year 2015, it also has been nominated for many other Sci-Fi awards and there’s an upcoming movie in production already.Pictures: Movie posters of "3Body: Once Upon a Time in Earth". Artworks by Jay WongThe question is: does it deserved all the praise it received? Mostly yes, especially when it comes to how the book discussed a lot of relatable topics with our current societies; mostly science (d’oh), religions and human nature.“Even if God were here, it wouldn’t do any good. The entire human race has reached the point where no one is listening to their prayers.”As far as we know, humans have been reaching for extraterrestrial contact forever now; there’s been plenty of “sightings” or conspiracy theories but none of them are concrete proof. I’m a believer that there are another life forms outside of Earth, and there’s no doubt it will be a groundbreaking discovery when they truly make that first contact with our world. As exciting as that sounds, humans tend to forget that when they do appear, how EXACTLY will humanity react? The Three-Body Problem revolved mostly around this question and the concept of The Three-Body Problem equation—that hasn’t been solved—were used to explore motivation and behavior of humans in the face of the unknown.“It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.”The book shone light upon many historical events of China’s Cultural Revolution and several philosophies of the well-known scientists such as Einstein. The entire plot was told in two different timelines, Cultural Revolution and our modern age, both in China; the scope of the story, however, is massive. There’s a lot of limitation to what I can talk about here because the main strength of this book lies within its mystery; telling you more of the plot will definitely change your expectation, in fact, I probably already said more than enough.One thing you should definitely know though is that this is a hard Sci-Fi, and I will not claim to understand all the scientific terms in this book. I’m not a genius or science freak here, some scientific terms did go over my head. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite good at envisioning and understanding Sci-Fi in my head, but only when it comes to something that has to do with pewpewpew (laser gun), ngungggggggg (lightsaber), boom boom wooshhh (space opera) or alternate reality stuff; the terms that go over my head mostly have to do with physics and scientific calculations. For someone who on a good day got 7/100 (don’t you dare laugh at me) on their physics final exam back in high school, stating that I understood all the scientific terms here is equivalent to saying an iguana invented iPhone; impossible. Now, enough talking about how dumb and dumber I am with physics, my point is, despite some terms I failed to understand, I was never bored throughout my time reading this book. I don’t think it’s fair for me to judge the prose, especially knowing that this is a translated work but in my opinion, Ken Liu did an excellent job on the translation. Cixin/Ken Liu explained the required terms in understanding the plot as easy as possible, making sure that the readers fully understand the plot at least. The reason I say this book is slightly overrated is not due to the plot or scientific terms; how can I possibly judge something as overrated from something that I don’t fully understand? That’s nonsense. However, it's because of the weak characterizations.This book is written in third person limited omniscient narrative and this direction is apt for the story that Cixin Liu tried to tell; with a lot of changes in locations and timelines combined with the withholding of information, they provided a sense of mystery that compelled the reader to continue. However, the downside of this is that the characters felt flat and devoid of feelings because we never truly get inside the person’s head. Characterizations are the most important factors in the books I read, and this book suffers from great characters to love. In fact, I'm fully disconnected from the characters that I can’t even bring myself to care whether they die or not.Overall, The Three-Body Problem is a great book filled with imaginative ideas and intriguing plot but fell short due to its weak characterizations. If you’re a fan of heavy scientific terms, this is truly a book you must try to read. I can’t wait to see what the sequel has in store because the ending of this book made me realize that this is just a beginning to an epic Sci-Fi tale.You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest

  • Adina
    2019-04-23 12:45

    The Three-Body Problem was the best SF novel that I’ve read so far. Admittedly, I did not read a lot of them. However, I can recognize when I encounter a special gem and this one definitely is unique in its world building. Moreover, it is very well written (and translated) which, unfortunately, it is not always the case with SF novels, especially with the classics. The first chapters take place in the Chinese Cultural revolution and I thought to be a harrowing experience which perfectly introduced the reader in the oppressive atmosphere of the time. I do not want to say too much of the plot because I believe it is better for each of you to explore it. I went in almost blindly and I appreciated the opportunity to discover by myself how the plot develops. What I can tell is that you will read an amazing blend of Chinese history, mythology, hard SCi-Fi and well crayoned characters. If I were to reveal anything I guess this quote from the first part of the novel is pretty suggestive. “It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.”The novel can be hard on science sometimes but the aspect did not lower my enjoyment, although I was overwhelmed by some explanations as my background is mostly economics. Despite some long science passages, the narration flows beautifully and I was not bored for one second. I am looking forward to reading the next volume in the series and I hope it will not suffer from the 2nd books syndrome. **********Excellent! One of the best SF books I've read. Review to come.

  • Bradley
    2019-05-18 17:02

    From the opening, I was struck by how much history I didn't know about China's Cultural Revolution. It might be obvious to anyone growing up in those parts, of course, but I was almost lost in that story long before I saw that there was anything sci-fi about the novel. This is a good thing. It speaks of good writing.And then things changed. I became a frog in a pot. Small hints accumulate, surrounded by mathematical problems both fundamental and curious. And then the MC's sanity is questioned. It's an open question that both the reader and the character must answer.And then I got an idea. I could easily make the argument that all scientists in this novel are actually Main Characters, and indeed, that theory only becomes crystal clear later in the novel. It was a delight.The novel is full of scientist suicides, damn odd hallucinations, all the way to a fantastic virtual reality game that draws intellectuals from around the world before devolving into a suggestive epic space opera featuring some of the most interesting aliens I've read about in a LONG time.The worldbuilding is top-knotch-squared.The clever uses of technology are the true highlights of the novel, and I'm upset. Why? Because the translations and publications for the next two novels are still in the future. Why am I still upset? Because I can hardly find the other works for this great author.A grandmaster of Chinese sci-fi? I can't deny the fact. And just because I can't compare to other science fiction masters of Chinese literature is a null point. I am already a fanboy. I'll be revelling in every work I can get my hands on.This is a fantastic example of how great science fiction can be. Truly inspiring.Update.This novel now a Hugo Nominee for 2015 because of the translation and introduction into the English-speaking market. It is a last minute replacement for Marco Kloos's Lines of Departure that was bravely self-removed due to the Sad Puppy 3 controversy. It wasn't his fault, and he got caught up in some seriously not-cool BS with this year's Hugo. He should be treated like any other Hugo Nominee. With respect and awe for the accomplishment it is, even though he withdrew.On the other hand, after finding out that Three Body Problem took his place, I have to admit that it couldn't have happened to a better novel. I loved this one. It was really fantastic and it had everything I like to see in seriously good fiction.This one might truly be my top pick for the year. It might be the one I cast my ballot on. But first, I need to read a few more Nominees. I take this very seriously. We bring our levels of joy and dedication to the ideas we thrive on. Awards are only as good as we make them. I refuse to let the Hugo become a quagmire.Let the best novel win!Brad K Horner's Blog

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2019-05-24 08:43

    Fascinating piece of scifi by Chinese writer Cixin Liu. A surprising mix of nanoscience, string theory, and astrophysics and religion with the Cultural Revolution as a background, the story takes its protagonist Xiao Wang (the nanoscientist) into an adventure that will impact all of humanity. I liked Ye, the astrophysicist, and found Du Shi, the policeman, funny and well-drawn. As for the action and plot, it is easy to read although I got a little lost in the pure science aspects once or twice (despite being an engineer and having dabbled in quantum mechanics years ago). I am excited about reading the next two books (which I suspect will be a little like the Foundation Trilogy by Asimov) and hope you'll also enjoy this one. Note that it won the Hugo award in 2015, kind of a geek's Pulitzer if you will.Having finished the entire series, I have to say that it does actually get better and better as it evolves. The narrative structure of this first book is a quite different than the other two but all are extraordinary.

  • David Brin
    2019-05-23 12:50

    The Three-Body Problem is part one of an award-winning trilogy by Liu Cixin — and is arguably the best Chinese science fiction novel ever translated into English. Liu uses the “three-body problem” of classical mechanics to ask some terrifying questions about human nature and what lies at the core of civilization.The series explores the world of the Trisolarans, a race that is forced to adapt to life in a triple star system, on a planet whose gravity, heat, and orbit are in constant flux. Facing extinction, the Trisolarans plan to evacuate and conquer the nearest habitable planet, and finally chooses a candidate/victim when it intercepts a message—from Earth. The Three-Body Problem has been translated into English by award-winning writer, Ken Liu (author of books such as The Grace of Kings). Take a look at Stephan Martiniere's way-cool cover for the coming Tor Books edition!)Special note… The Three Body Problem deals very closely with the issue of SETI and the Fermi Paradox and whether we should shout "yoo-hoo!" into the cosmos -- a quandary about which I've also written, from time to time. But the biggest news is this proof of the maturation of Chinese science fiction into the top ranks of thorough and fascinating thought experimentation. I’ve long maintained that the health of an enlightened and progressive society is measured by how vibrant is its science fiction, since that is where true self-critique and appraisal and hope lie. If so, the good news stretches beyond China!

  • Lightreads
    2019-05-11 15:05

    A scientist is drawn into a conspiracy involving a computer game and an old research station and extra-terrestrial life.Translated from the original Chinese. I have to admit I read this book mostly because the way it's being talked about made me really uncomfortable. There's the contingent who want to treat it as some sort of referendum on the Chinese science fiction landscape, or Chinese literature in general, as it was a wildly successful bestseller there. Yeah, okay, tell you what – go take a look at this week's NY Times bestseller list and pick out the book we should translate into other languages for readers to judge as a referendum on all of American writing of that genre. I'll wait. And then there's the way the translator responded to criticism by making a lot of sweeping statements about Chinese writing that I have very little doubt, even in the absence of any personal expertise, are dubious at best. This book is occupying some weird space in reviewerland, is what I'm saying.So I read it, and. Um. It's not very good. Flat characters, some shall we say eyebrow raising decisions regarding women, a lot of but humans don’t human that way, etc. Which kind of figures, since if notions of best seller can be translated, then this book is Chinese Tom Clancy. So . . . there you go.It did intrigue me on behalf of other Chinese science fiction, though. The cultural context of this story – the asides about how communism impacted intellectual thought, for example – interested me more than anything else.I generally have a pretty good nose for these things, though, and I smell movie deal, for what that's worth.

  • Matthew Quann
    2019-04-26 09:11

    I just spent a week with this hard science fiction, Hugo-award winning novel from Chinese author Cixin Liu and I have to admit: I'm impressed. The Three-Body Problem had me putting off tasks to pick it up, stuck with me throughout my day, and was always a pleasure to read when I sat down with it. With that said, this isn’t a novel I’d easily recommend to everyone. This isn’t a review that offers a pan-recommendation along with its 5-star rating. Indeed, this review seeks to help an intrigued reader decide if this book would be a good fit for them and their reading taste. Hard Sci-Fi The premise of The Three-Body Problem is that an alien civilization receives a message from a Chinese scientist in the 1970s and plans to come to Earth, naturally, for a good old-fashioned invasion. I know, I know. You’ve read this story before, right? I assure you that this is a wholly original take wherein the aliens don’t even make a proper appearance for the entire novel. Instead, The Three-Body Problem is more concerned with its titular problem, scientific history, cutting edge scientific theory, and a fair smattering of ludicrous science near the novel’s end. This novel revels in its appreciation of science and a bit of brushing up on introductory physics would not go amiss. However, if you don’t recall the mathematical expression that governs the motion of two celestial bodies in a vacuum, you need not worry. Cixin Liu (and his translator, Ken Liu) does a fantastic job in explaining basic and high-level science concepts in clear language. Although there were times in which I had to set the book down to interpret, these moments were largely towards the end of the book where the science gets really out there. I was also less than impressed with the video game within the book that serves as an introduction to the alien civilization. Roughly, each time the game is booted up the player is greeted by an ever-advancing Earth-based representation of scientific progress. So, at first you meet an ancient Chinese king, but eventually you hang out with Einstein. This grew on me after the first few chapters set in the game. Liu uses these sections to convey the difficulty of the scientific problem at hand, show reverence for science history, and introduce the civilization in an innocuous way. Space & TimeOne of the things that really sets this reading experience apart from traditional science fiction is that it is really, really Chinese. The first 100 pages deal mostly with the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In fact, after 100 pages I realized that I was enjoying that material so much that I wouldn’t have minded if aliens never stopped in. Of course, as the novel goes on it does an excellent job of weaving together the threads from the Cultural Revolution and the impending invasion. This Chinese-based sci-fi is a breath of fresh air, and it’s a shame that China’s most popular sci-fi author has never made the jump to English before. Not only is it set in a different part of the world from most sci-fi you’ll encounter, but it also feels remarkably different in writing style and plot development. Where other novels skim over the nitty-gritty of the science behind spectacle, The Three-Body Problem spends pages making sure the reader knows what to expect. This never feels obnoxious; on the contrary, it is refreshing to see an author convey a concept in such understandable language. Though the novel alternates between the time of discovery during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the present day story, it never feels random. There are stretches where I spent 50 pages in the present, took a brief 10 page detour into the past, only to return for a lengthy bit set in the present. The story unfolds rather than following a strictly predictable path. Instead of predictability, it seems guided by logic. You don’t know about Y, but once you know X, Y follows much more easily. This all makes for a read that is compelling because it makes the reader feel as if they are hot on the pursuit of the central mystery. The Three Dimensional Character ProblemYou’ve probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned the cast of characters, and there’s good reason. I’m not the first reader to note this, but the lead characters in The Three-Body Problem are pretty flat. Indeed, Wang Miao may be a brilliant nanotechnology researcher, but I’d be hard pressed to tell you much about his personality. Instead of driving the plot, Wang reacts to it. I never felt that the decisions he makes in the novel were guided by his belief system. He’s kind of like the cart on an on-rail amusement park ride. The ride sure is thrilling, but you’re unlikely to remember much about the cart.Now, normally I’d be roasting this book alive for having such weak characterization. I mean, why read a book if you don’t care about the characters? The Three-Body Problem genuinely makes the case for having a fairly empty lead. I kept thinking during my read that I could imagine being in Wang’s shoes, pulling back the curtain on yet another mystery. It is genuinely impressive that Liu is able to pull off, at least for me, the sensation of feeling like you’re in on the mystery that would be lost with a stronger character. Conclusion?This novel doesn’t end with resolution, though you could conceivably just read this novel and come away with a complete story. Of course, there are two more novels in the series that will delve further into the impressive, exciting, and pessimistic world that Liu has created. I’m hoping for some better-developed characters, but will happily continue on if the subsequent books are as mentally stimulating as this.I’d suggest tackling this one if you are interested in a headier science-fiction story that eschews typical western plot, makes your brain twist and turn into weird shapes, and makes the case for more translated SFF.**The second book is better than the first! You can find my review of The Dark Forest here!

  • Lyn
    2019-05-04 15:01

    I liked this and there is no doubt that this is a science heavy, brilliantly produced and contemplated, highly original SF novel from a physics understanding Chinese author that was good enough to win a slew of awards including the Hugo.But I like to watch Ridiculousness. I like Travis McGee. I like Mickey F****** Spillane. Beer and pizza and a bug zapper is quality entertainment.“Conan – what is best in life?”Three Body Problem did not have near enough axe welding barbarians or laser beams for my taste.Liu Cixin’s wildly popular, speculative fiction gem was first published in China in 2008 as 三体 (I guess – that’s what it says on Goodreads) and I enjoyed the English translation written by Ken Liu (himself a very talented writer) published in 2014.Liu begins in the late 60s during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and then moves forward in time to a near future where a strange virtual reality game replicates an even stranger reality.And the aliens.Maybe I would have liked this more if I were a physicist. A very smart commentator opined that perhaps Westerners don’t get the subtle nuances of a writer whose cultural background is not based upon the individual but rather is more attuned to a gestalt perspective.“Brilliant and entertaining “ – Dr. Sheldon Cooper.

  • Samantha
    2019-05-07 09:48

    While this is obviously a masterpiece of hard sci-fi, that is also the reason I had a hard time connecting to it. While the science behind it all is complex and interesting, I found myself glazing over many a time and detaching from the story. The characters didn't feel real to me. Aside from that, this is a book I'd love to discuss with others because I wonder how much of this book was harder for me due to cultural and historical differences I wasn't even aware of while reading. I think I have discovered that hard sci-fi is not for me, as I need more of a connection to the story and characters, but I'd recommend this for any science buff.

  • Apatt
    2019-04-23 10:10

    One of my favorite ways of choosing a book by an unfamiliar author to read is by the buzz from sf blogs and discussion forums. Not any old buzz mind you, I don’t want to end up reading “50 Shades” or some equally unreadable blockbusters, I only take notice of the excitement among SF/F reading communities.The Three-Body Problem was my SF Book Club’s book of the month (three months ago), it was recommended to me a friend here on GR and I have noticed numerous blogs, articles and online discussions about it so if I am to have any hope of keeping up with the Sci-fi Joneses I’d better give it a shot*. About the official synopsis, I am surprised how much spoiler is in it. I am glad I did not read the synopsis until I was half way through the book, but even then I wish I had finished the book before reading the thing. Having said that, when I tried to write my own synopsis I find myself struggling as the book’s storyline is quite complex with several plot twists and turns.It starts in China in 1967 during the Cultural Revolution, astrophysicist Ye Wenjie witnesses her father’s public execution at the hands of some young Red Guards women. This is beginning of her disdain for the entire human race and a later betrayal by a friend which leads to her agreeing to join a top secret Government science project which has will have a great impact on the future of humanity. About forty years later Wang Miao a nanomaterial researcher stumbles upon a VR game that seems to have surprising real world consequences.OK, a little bit of a spoiler now. After all the surprising plot developments this book ultimately turns out to be about (view spoiler)[first contact / alien invasion! (hide spoiler)]. It is not all about that though, there are many facets to this book: Hard SF / cyberpunk / conspiracy / Chinese Cultural Revolution, not to mention the human drama, the political allegory, the philosophy and the moral themes of loyalty and betrayal (of individuals and eventually the entire human race). I think even the kitchen sink is mentioned at one point!The Three-Body Problem is a huge bestseller in China, it is the first book of a trilogy (only this first volume translated and published internationally so far) and a film adaptation is in the making (by Chinese film makers, not Hollywood – yet). The book reminds me a little bit of Neal Stephenson'sSnow Crash though it is much grimmer in tone and also Asimov’s classicThe Gods Themselves (ah, I need to reread this!). Considering the hype I am surprising how divisive this book is, it has all the things most hard SF fans normally want, the plausible science, the cool tech, huge ideas etc. I suspect the dislike among some of the readers is due to the book's initial focus on the Cultural Revolution in the 60s. If you read sci-fi just for the sci-fi and you don't want to know about this part of Chinese history this substantial part of the book may bore you. I know nothing about this history and I personally found it to be very interesting. There are also some lengthy scientific expositions which are a little hard to follow. I quite like how the main characters are developed but none of them are particularly sympathetic, not even Wang Miao who is described as “a good man”. I love the cyberspace world (or metaverse) of this book, it is bizarre and fascinating; how it impacts the real world is more reminiscent ofPhilip K. Dick thanWilliam Gibson. It also leads to the explanation of the book’s title which is a brilliant hard sci-fi concept.The New York Times described this book as “a classic science-fiction story in the style of the British masterArthur C. Clarke”. While the comparison makes some sense stylistically Liu Cixin is very different from Sir Arthur C. I don’t know how much of this is due to the excellent translation byKen Liu but there is much more characterization and emotion here than any Clarke books I have read. This does not make him a better author than Clarke though, Clarke was a master storyteller who told some ingenious stories with much more economy and clarity of vision.So given the divisive opinions of this book I would recommend it with caution that you try a sample chapter first if possible, or at least read a few trusted reviews. Also, the book is not an easy breezy read, there are passages that will tax your brain and others that require your patience. Personally I would love to find out what happen in the subsequent volumes of the trilogy. Get on with it Mr. Ken Liu!__________________Note:Barack Obama has something interesting to say about The Three-Body Problem

  • Mpauli
    2019-05-12 13:10

    ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest reviewThe Three-Body Problem is a very successful trilogy in China and is now translated and published in English for the first time.We're following two main characters over two different time periods. The first is Ye Wenjie who witnesses the death of her father, a scientist, during the cultural revolution in China during the 1960s.A scientis herself she then gets the chance to participate in a high security project for the government, despite her anti-government attitude.Our second protagonist is Wang Miao, also a scientist, who lives in modern times and gets involved with a police investigation related to some strange suicides in the scientific community. During the course of the investigation, Wang discovers a mysterious video game called The Three-Body Problem and starts to play it.How Ye, Wang and the game are connected will get clear during the novel.The book reads a lot like a thriller and the SF elements are rare, but when they happen they always have significance.While reading it, the book hovered around 3,5 - 4 stars for me for a long time. But in the end the book offers you some clues and if you can connect those, you're going to see what a well constructed piece of art the novel is.It is one of those books that really functions on a meta level and you need to do a little bit of analysis and interpretation to get the full level of enjoyment out of it.With its symbolism in numbers it reminded me a lot of reading Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series, cause he constructs his stories in a similar way and the reader has a bit of work to do.But I personally enjoy those engaging reads and The Three-Body Problem was a book I often set aside after finishing a chapter to think about it and that is always a good sign for a great reading experience.In the end, this was a clear 5 star book for me and I'm really looking forward to the release of the second book in 2015.Link to my video review on my YouTube channel:

  • Hadrian
    2019-05-08 11:41

    三体 is a charming book. It's a novel of ideas, and it reminds me of the best of early 20th century science fiction. The mystery is intriguing, the VR sequences were imaginative and brilliant allegories, and the atavistic brutality of the Cultural Revolution was also well-done. Many of the characters are bland and stiff, but the background drowns all that out. My Chinese is not quite at the point where I could read the original unaided due to all the technical terms, but I was able to struggle through it with a dictionary and occasional reference to the English translation. I didn't know what 宇宙微波背景辐射 (cosmic microwave background radiation) was, but 纳米材料 (nano-material) was a bit easier. I should also point out that in some of the Chinese editions, the order of the chapters is different than the English translation, where the Cultural Revolution chapters are moved to about Ch. 7 or so instead of the beginning. It wasn't as much of a hook on the original publication as a serial, but in English it's interesting enough to put first.

  • Stuart
    2019-05-13 13:43

    The Three-Body Problem: Particle physics, the rise and fall of civilizations, and alien contactOriginally published atFantasy LiteratureThe Three-Body Problem was first published in China back in 2008 and translated into English in 2014. It got a lot of attention and was put on the Hugo Award ballot this year when another author pulled out. Cixin Liu’s book has a lot going on and requires your full attention. So after listening to the audiobook during a trip to the East Coast I realized I couldn’t write a proper review, and decided to listen to it again. I’m glad I did, because this book is bursting with fascinating ideas about the rise and fall of civilizations, virtual-reality gaming, mind-blowing particle physics, the lonely life of scientists and intellectuals, the madness of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and alien contact as well.This book is impossible to discuss without significant spoilers, so if you are interested in it since it was put on the Hugo ballot, or you like hard-SF alien contact stories, or you just want to see what the most popular Chinese SF book is about, then read no further and get the book. It is well worth your time. A detailed discussion of the plot (with unavoidable spoilers) has been placed at the end of this review.The Three-Body Problem is split into three main narratives:1) The backstory of scientist Ye Wenjie, who grew up during the madness of the Cultural Revolution and saw her father killed for his scientific ideas. She ends up grudgingly working at a secret military facility in the 1970s dedicated to making alien contact, but never has trust in humanity after suffering various betrayals.2) The modern-day story of Wang Miao, a scientist studying nano-fibers, who is dragged into an investigation of a string of mysterious suicides among prominent particle physics researchers. His tale takes up the bulk of the book, and for much of the novel both he and the reader are in the dark as to what is going on. The further he gets involved with the secretive group The Frontiers of Science, the more he realizes that there are numerous conspiracies occurring, all involving scientists, alien contact, and a mysterious game called Three Body.3) The virtual reality game called Three Body, in which players can observe and try to influence the course of an alien civilization in a far-off world that has three suns orbiting in a non-stable configuration. Because of the suns’ irregular behavior, the planet’s civilizations must struggle to advance during brief stable eras before the suns approach or recede and usher in chaotic eras, destroying all life. To survive this, the aliens develop the ability to dehydrate and wait until the next stable era. However, these eras are so unpredictable that 180 civilizations have already been destroyed, but still they try to advance their scientific knowledge in order to solve the Three-Body Problem.Overall, I thought The Three-Body Problem was chock full of cool ideas about science but was fairly weak in characterization, particularly the main character Wang Miao, who is a fairly passive guy who serves to move the story forward. Ye Wenjie is much more complex, and her betrayal of humanity is believable considering what she has suffered. I liked the cynical and profane cop Shi Quang best, as he continually ridicules the milque-toast concerns of Wang Miao and the other scientists who seem very quick to commit suicide when their experimental results go haywire.The most poorly executed part of the book was the virtual reality game Three Body, as it was so unclear about who was controlling the avatars, what the purpose of the game was, who created it, and whether the human participants were actually able to affect the outcome. Moreover, it was hard to believe that anyone would like to play such an esoteric and turgid game. Perhaps these mysteries have been left there deliberately to be revealed in the later books, but it was a bit confusing and took up a lot more pages than necessary.The last 100 pages or so from the Trisolarans’ perspective was my favorite part of the book, since it dealt with mind-blowing particle physics and multiple dimensions. It was something of an info-dump, but cleared up so many earlier plot threads that I didn’t mind. Not to mention that the Trisolarans themselves are fascinating and their motivations for invasion are fairly believable, even if I question why they need bother if they have the power to create sophons.I thought the translation by Ken Liu, author of The Grace of Kings in his own right, was done fairly well, although it’s basically impossible to judge unless you can also read Chinese fluently and can compare with the original. The writing sounded natural and the lack of embellished language is almost certainly the style of Cixin Liu, considering his interest in particle physics and admiration for Arthur C. Clarke. I imagine it’s a pretty tough novel to translate and I think Ken Liu did it justice. Notably, the second book is being translated by Joel Martinsen, so it will be interesting to see what he brings to the story. The third book, I’ve heard, will be done by Ken Liu, but that may not be accurate.Finally, since I listened to the audiobook narrated by Luke Daniels, I have to give him full credit for handling the Chinese names well (as far as I could tell) and also for giving distinct voices to a number of characters who really wouldn’t have stood out at all otherwise. I noticed that the narrators for the next book are also different, so both translator and narrator are not the same.I will definitely be looking forward to the next installment, The Dark Forest, which will be available on Audible on Aug 11, 2015. I also wouldn’t mind if The Three-Body Problem wins the Hugo Award this year, but I haven’t read the other contenders.I wanted to discuss the plot in greater detail in a way that will spoil it, so if you’re interested in that, please read on: (view spoiler)[The novel begins with the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, during which time Ye Wenjie’s physicist father is killed for “counter-revolutionary” ideas which basically amount to believing in the science of Western enemies of the revolution. Seeing this, Ye is forever after distrustful of other people, but her scientific ability makes her indispensible at the secret military facility called Red Coast, which initially hides the fact that they are seeking signs of alien life in the stars. One day Ye discovers the long-awaited alien message, but it’s not what was expected: it’s a warning not to respond or humanity will be hunted down and destroyed. Presented with an opportunity to strike back at the Communist authorities who destroyed her father and treated her as a traitor, she fatefully decides to send a message back anyway, essentially saying “humanity is corrupt, so it would benefit from an alien invasion.” She hides this act, but eventually various groups discover the alien contact, which has major repercussions in the modern-day narrative.Meanwhile, Wang Miao is pressured by Chinese authorities, including a gruff and cynical police officer named Shi Quang, to infiltrate the Frontiers of Science to find out why so many prominent scientists have been committing suicide. He discovers that they have been encountering strange and impossible results in their study of fundamental particles, and when he is suddenly faced with seeing a ghostly countdown showing up in photos he takes but which are visible to nobody else, he starts to doubt his own sanity. Meanwhile, in the course of his investigations, he finds out that many of the scientists are playing the Three Body game, so he also goes down the proverbial rabbit hole to find out what is happening.The Three Body game itself is supposedly a massive multi-player online game, but each time Wang plays it he only encounters a few other avatars, mainly famous scientists from the past like Isaac Newton, John Von Neumann, and Albert Einstein. These scientists are trying to use their theories to solve the Three Body Problem that plagues the kingdom of the game, and each time they come up with a solution, another chaotic era wipes out the kingdom and civilization again.This part of the story occupies a lot of the book, but it is also the most unclearly described and least believable. It’s hard to see how any but the most scientific-minded players could become so interested in coming up with solutions to save the kingdom, there are hardly any other players, and it’s not clear who is controlling them. The rise and fall of the kingdoms is more of a metaphor for the rise and fall of civilizations and societies that mankind has undergone (in fact, some Chinese readers apparently have seen a parallel with the rise and fall of Internet companies in the cut-throat business world of today).We then shift back to the story of Wang, as he discovers a group called the Adventists who, if I understood this correctly, sympathize with the aliens and welcome their invasion of earth as saviors to cure corrupt humanity. The government officials who contacted Wang are trying to combat this group of pro-alien, anti-humanity fanatics. The Adventists have apparently gotten hold of much more data from the aliens, and have formed a quasi-cult dedicated to welcoming them. Much later in the book, we learn that Ye Wenjie is allied with them, and is probably the source of this info, though it wasn’t entirely clear to me. Meanwhile, there is also the rise of various anti-scientific and environmental terrorist groups that seem determined to undermine scientific progress. This also was fairly muddled, and I wouldn’t blame the translation but rather the author instead. When the military group finally makes a decisive move against the Adventists, it’s not entirely clear what’s at stake.Finally, The Three-Body Problem switches perspective to the aliens themselves, and this is where the book got really interesting, and where Cixin Liu’s debt to his favorite author (Arthur C. Clarke) becomes most clear. The aliens are called Trisolarans, after the three suns of their system, and the game Three Body essentially describes their history. The book never spells out the relationship, but I think that the only possible way that the Three Body game could mirror Trisolaran society so closely is if the aliens had shared this information with humans, who then designed the game to introduce the Three Body Problem, either to crowd-source possible solutions to it, or to build sympathy among humans for the Trisolaran plight, as they continually struggle to survive every chaotic cycle.As it turns out, the Trisolarans have been seeking for generations a way to either solve their Three Body Problem or to find another planetary system to escape to, so when they receive the initial signal from Red Coast, the first Trisolaran monitor realizes that if humans establish contact they will be tracked down and conquered. This is a nice parallel story to Ye Wenjie, who betrays humanity in favor of the aliens. So once the Trisolarans receive the message of Ye, they pinpoint the location of Earth and quickly assemble an invasion fleet. The reader might wonder why they are so aggressive, but the book suggests that the brutal conditions the Trisolarans have faced throughout their history precludes any form of cooperation in favor of conquest, that old chestnut of lebensraum used by the Nazis to justify their invasions.The Trisolarans are not content just to send an invasion fleet, so instead they devote their resources to particle physics, namely unfolding protons to two dimensions in order to create a planet-sized mirror upon which they etch micro-circuitry using the strong nuclear force and mesons to conduct data. They then shrink this down to three dimensions and make a new construct called a sohpon, which is essentially a massive computer shrunk to the size of a proton, which can then be sent across space at the speed of light and is used to infiltrate the particle physics accelerators used by the researchers back on Earth. These sophons are then used to create all kinds of impossible experimental results to confound Earth’s scientists and drive them to suicide. I couldn’t help thinking that if the Trisolarans can manipulate multiple dimensions and create such powerful devices, why would they waste their time harassing scientists when they could simply infiltrate and destroy any technological device on Earth? It seems so implausible, but since The Three-Body Problem is a trilogy, I imagine dedicated readers will find out more as the story progresses.Basically the novel ends with the military group foiling the Adventists plans, but the Trisolarans send a simple message to all of humanity that states bluntly, “You’re bugs.” As in, we’re coming to kick your ass and you can’t do anything to retaliate. However, it will take 450 years for the alien invasion fleet to arrive at Earth, which gives humanity quite a time span to prepare a defense. Strategically, if I were an alien invasion fleet I would probably have told Earth “We come in peace” to keep them complacent, but I guess the Trisolarans would prefer the intimidation route instead. But as we all know from many SF books and movies from War of the Worlds to Independence Day, humans are pretty feisty and won’t go down without a fight.(hide spoiler)]

  • Michael
    2019-05-13 16:44

    Brilliant and thrilling, fun and mind expanding. If this is what Chinese science fiction writers bring to the table, feed my head! This won the Hugo Award for 2015, a fitting outcome to the controversies surrounding the controversies around their selection process. This tale deals with the classic issue of first contact with an alien civilization. The plot evolves as a mystery that engages a nanotech scientist Wang. He starts to encounter strange phenomena such as a progression of numbers appearing on his camera film. It suggests to him some form of a countdown, and he gets warnings to stop his research in creating super-strong materials. He also gets disturbed by suspicious deaths of prominent scientists and clues that link to the activities of an elusive group concerned with stopping human environmental devastation. He makes an unlikely partnership with a tough, uneducated police lieutenant whose pragmatism and humor makes for a great balance to all the scientists in the story. Wang’s investigations lead him to an online computer game called “The Three-Body Problem”, which engages players in a virtual world where scientific prediction of the classic conundrum is of critical importance to a civilization’s survival in a situation where a planet’s orbit in a three-star configuration is disastrously unstable. Wang’s story interweaves with historical events experienced by Ye Wenije, a female astrophysicist whose academic father was killed in the Cultural Revolution and has found refuge in a secret project on a remote mountaintop base called Red Coast. There she was involved with the Chinese equivalent of the SETI project, scanning the spectra and regions of outer space for signatures of extraterrestrial intelligence. She is especially gifted in her innovations in how to amplify signals and, most significantly, sending messages back.Saying anything more will spoil the fun. I will say the plot evolves less around the aliens themselves than how Earth’s societies and peoples would react to knowledge of an alien civilization, both in terms of perceived benefits and projected threats. I was fascinated by Liu’s exploration of how different factions would respond emotionally and spiritually and in terms of actions to defend against dangers and harness any benefits for the good of all or of only a subset of the human race. We saw a bit of that in Sagan’s “Contact” and a lot more in a favorite of mine, Niven and Pournelle’s “The Mote in God’s Eye.” I look forward to the two sequels to this novel.Liu has been quoted in interviews as saying: “Everything that I write is a clumsy imitation of Arthur C. Clarke,” That is a fair perspective and warning to those considering reading this who don’t often read science fiction. I’d say his characters are a bit more colorful and engaging than Clarke’s, though still not up to broader literary standards. In a tailpiece written for the 2014 translation of this 2006 book, Liu provides some interesting background to his interest in writing science fiction. Sputnik, the hunger for science in the recovery from the Cultural Revolution, the ferment of his mind from math and astronomy, and his personal humbling about the fragility of humanity in response to a 1975 flood and dam failures that destroyed his town and killed over 200,000 people. I appreciate the wonder and humility of these words: Through the medium of science fiction, I seek only to create my own worlds using the power of imagination, and to make known the poetry of Nature in those worlds, to tell the romantic legends that have unfolded between Man and Universe.But I cannot escape and leave behind reality, just like I cannot leave behind my shadow. Reality brands each of us with its indelible mark. Every era puts invisible shackles upon those who have lived through it, and I can only dance in my chains.

  • Rachel the Book Harlot
    2019-04-25 17:02

    2.5 starsThere has been an enormous amount of buzz and accolades surrounding Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem. It has been nominated for numerous awards, including a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Does it deserve all the hype? In some respects I can see why it has garnered so much praise. The science is fun, there are some interesting philosophical concepts, and the world-building is also interesting. However, that for me is where the praise ends. Where the book fails is in the basic fundamentals of what makes a good story: writing, characterization, pacing, and plot. Harsh, I know. The characters are flat, the writing is lifeless and choppy, the pacing is slow as molasses in some places, and some of the dialogue is downright terrible. There are instances where the author awkwardly uses dialogue to info dump:"Professor Wang, we want to know if you've had any recent contacts with members of the Frontiers of Science," the young cop said."The Frontiers of Science is full of famous scholars,and very influential. Why can't I have contact with a legal international academic group?"There are also weird instances where characters behave like stage actors, having side conversations with one another in order to provide the audience with info while other characters in the scene pretend not to listen. Strange and awkward.Despite these problems, the story does start out interesting enough with the character of Ye Wenjie during the Chinese Revolution. However, it later jumps to the modern day, through the point of view character of Wang Miao, where its problems can no longer be ignored and the story fizzles. Perhaps it is unfair of me to heap such harsh criticism at the writing since this is a translation from the original Chinese. Maybe these issues do not appear in the original? I cannot be sure, and if someone has read the original I'd love to hear your thoughts. But, as it stands I can only go with the version I've read. Sorry, book. You had some interesting elements, but not enough to overlook the problems. Final Rating: 2.5 Stars

  • Jody
    2019-04-26 12:09

    How would humanity react if we found out we are not alone in the universe? Not only that, if we knew that alien civilization was on its way to earth to invade our planet? How would we react? How would YOU react? The Three-Body Problem is a unique sci-fi novel set in China. It takes place over several time periods from the 1960's to present time. The story begins during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960's, and focuses on how the intellectual society was hard-pressed and assaulted. Those who were not killed were humiliated and sent to labor camps to be 'reformed'. This part of the story follows the life of Ye Wenjie. An astrophysicist and one of the intellectuals sent to be reformed. Ye Wenjie's experiences during this time are sad and lonely, but lead her to play a key role in the future of earth.Part II of the story flashes forward 40 years to introduce a new character. Wang Miao is a Nanomaterials researcher who suddenly finds his life turned upside down. He is thrust into a society with elite scientists and top military personnel. Wang is not sure what is happening, but soon finds out he is to play a pivotal role in the future of how the human civilization will try to survive the impending alien invasion. "Yes, the entire history of humankind has been fortunate. From the Stone Age until now, no real crisis has occurred. We've been very lucky. But if it's all luck, then it has to end one day. Let me tell you: It's ended. Prepare for the worst."Liu Cixin has developed a very impressive sci-fi novel that takes root from actual events from Chinese history. His overwhelming knowledge of science and human nature are probably the best I have read in this genre. I would describe this as a slow burn and it may not appeal to all readers. I didn’t mind the slow pace and enjoyed reading about the science and mathematical parts in the story. Although, I will admit, it was over my head in some areas and I did feel out of my element a time or two. These sections didn’t last long, but left me wondering if I had just missed out on a vital part of the story. Luckily, that was not the case….I think.This is the hardest book I have reviewed in a long time. I can't seem to put my experience into words the way I want to. I didn't take as many notes as usual, but that's because I was so entranced with my reading. That is probably the best way I can get my experience across. I have spoken with several people that loved it and several others that didn't, so it really comes down to personal preference. If you enjoy sci-fi then you must give this a try, and find out for yourself. 4 stars ****

  • Althea Ann
    2019-04-30 17:05

    NYT has an article today... finishing it after I finish the book! the author's postscript:"I've always felt that the greatest and most beautiful stories in the history of humanity were not sung by wandering bards or written by playwrights and novelists, but told by science. ... Only, these wonderful stories are locked in cold equations that most do not know how to read."Before becoming China's most popular science-fiction writer, Liu Cixin was an engineer, and his scientific and mathematical bent is clearly seen in this story. While it doesn't ignore the small things - indeed, one of the larger themes of the book is how individual actions can change the course of history - the focus is wide. The title of the book comes from a classic problem of physics ( There is extensive discussion of this, and other ideas in physics, both direct and metaphorical, throughout the book. As the novel begins, renowned scientists, some of whom have been working on this problem, have been discovered to be killing themselves. Is there some secret that has been divulged to them that has caused them to lose all hope?Are these deaths tied in, in some way, with a secret society tied to an organization of scientists? Is a mysterious and abstruse video game which puts the player into a virtual reality world ruled by unpredictable physics a key to what's happening?The plot is not one that's easy to summarize - there's a lot in here. But I don't think it's giving too much away to say that this does turn out to be a first contact/threat of alien invasion story. Like many such stories, it explores how different groups of people might react to such a possibility, and how these reactions might divide society. However, I found some of the ideas here to be quite fresh and unusual. Perhaps it's a cultural difference in expectations; perhaps it's just Liu's original take on the genre.I have to admit I was mainly drawn to the book by finding out that Liu is so popular in China, and thus was curious as to what people are reading there. This is, without doubt, a Chinese book. Translator Ken Liu (no relation to the author) notes that Chinese literature comes with a different set of readers' expectations.To me, at times the book moved rather slowly, had extended tangents/digressions, and neglected interpersonal relationships & emotions in favor of more intellectual motivations. However, I also felt that all of these qualities were intentional on the author's part, and that some readers may see these aspects of the book as strengths.In addition to form, the plot very explicitly deals with Chinese culture and politics - the beginning is set during the Cultural Revolution, and the horrors and traumas that his characters experience during that civil conflict set the stage for their decisions later in life.I felt that the book was worth reading just for that - the glimpse into another perspective on history; one that may be unfamiliar to many Western readers. However, it's also a fascinating tale for anyone interested in theories about alien civilizations, and one that will be of particular interest to those with an interest in physics.A copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley. Many thanks. As always, my opinions are solely my own.

  • Manju
    2019-04-26 15:41

    "To effectively contain a civilization's development and disarm it across such a long span of time, there is only one way; kill its science."The only thing that I knew about this book prior to reading it was that it revolves around alien invasion. So I prepared myself for spaceship, some cool weapons and amazing battle scenes. All in all I was looking for Guardians of the Galaxy in book form. But how wrong I was! I am so glad that all my hopes were dashed within first few chapters.What started from cultural revolution of China soon became a tug of war between two factions. One that want an alien invasion as human race must be cleared from earth for Earth's survival, the other is trying tk stop this invasion (this group consists of most of the powerful nations of the world).I am not a huge fantasy fan, in fact I am a beginner in this genre. The only other sci-fi that I have read is The Fifth Season. While I was super impresses with that one, this one just crossed all limits of my imagination with it's world and use of science.The author has used many amazing concepts in this book like dehydration, rehydration, three body game, dimensions greater than three and many more. I also loved how Liu told us about "Trisolaris". He just didn't dump all the information at once. He took his sweet time telling us about this alien race. Though this book use tons of physics terms and it can be scary initially but the notes at the end help readers a lot to understand them.I thought all this was awe-inspiring until I read about "Sophon". What a concept! It was absolutely brilliant and scary at the same time. Hope this never become a reality.The only thing that me give this four instead of five stars is characters. I feel they're weak. Despite all this brilliance I simply cannot let go of the thought if the human race has really crossed all limits? And is now emotionless and self-centred that earth must be purged of it for earth's survival?Immensely enjoyable and highly recommended.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-05-03 14:11

    I requested and received a copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu is the first book from the biggest selling science fiction series in China, and thanks to this translation we finally get to see why.This is a science fiction book that revolves around a concept in physics where three masses in space will never fall into a stable or predictable orbit around each other. It’s a problem that mathematicians and physicists have been puzzling over for years and science fiction was never going to leave that sort of toy in the box for too long. Plenty of authors in the past have explored similar “big dumb object” scenarios and come up with uninspiring lifeless stories (I’m looking at you Niven) but, my dear potential reader, this is not one of them. Three Body manages to balance the human and the scientific in a tale so full of tension and adventure that you’ll be absorbed from beginning to end. First off the plot was complex and intriguing from the start. It alternates between the life of Ye Wenjie who is a young physicist during the cultural revolution and Wang Miao a nanomaterials researcher in the present time. Ye’s life is ripped apart by the political climate of the cultural revolution: she watches as her father is executed before she is forced to work in labour camps and then a top-secret government science base for her reactionary views. Wang Miao, living comfortably in the modern day, is suddenly sucked into a military and police mission when a spate of suicides occurs among his fellow scientists. The deaths appear to be connected to a game called Three Body Problem set on a planet with strangely unpredictable seasons where hundreds of successive civilisations flourish and then die as the long periods of heat and cold make survival impossible. Slowly the stories of Ye, Wang and the game begin to fit together until we can suddenly see what’s been going on the whole time and it’s not good news for humanity. Three Body is at moments like a political thriller and at others a haunting reflection on the horrors of human history. Ye’s life is one of unrelenting tragedy and Wang is terrified by the events surrounding him. But in the midst of all this worry there are moments of hope. In fact the contrasting themes of despair and hope come up again and again. The endless attempts of the world in the game to survive the chaotic eras and the horror of their destructions; Ye’s belief in the redemption of humanity and the reality of her endless loss and betrayal at the hand of corruption; and the wonderful character of Da Shi, a policeman whose determination to keep going no matter what, is completely inspiring. After so much excitement about this series finally being translated there was a lot for this book to live up to. And I think it did well at that. It combines the wonder of science fiction with the excitement of a psychological thriller and I think that goes a long way to explaining its success. I have no way of knowing how faithful or not this is to the original language but it felt like a very elegant translation. Sparse footnotes explained the bare minimum of history needed by the, probably unaware, western reader and the unusual rhythms of storytelling and allusions that the characters made gave a very clearly Chinese sense to the book whilst remaining familiar enough to read without pulling you out of the story. My only real complaint, in fact, was an overuse of info dumping about the Three Body world that felt at odds with the rest of the story which had been seen through very human eyes. Overall, an exciting and compelling read and one which has made me excited to pick up the next part in the series.

  • Kaora
    2019-05-16 14:47

    Yes, the entire history of humankind has been fortunate. From the Stone Age till now, no real crisis has occurred. We’ve been very lucky. But if it’s all luck, then it has to end one day. Let me tell you: It’s ended. Prepare for the worst.This book first appeared on my radar after receiving good reviews from quite a few people I know. It is originally written in Chinese, but is being translated to English. While a few of the metaphors were slightly awkward, I felt the translation held up pretty well. There are a few cultural differences that the author does a great job of explaining in footnotes. Not being from China my knowledge of the Cultural Revolution was limited, but I didn't feel too lost.The messages are true no matter where you are from.These are the rules of the game of civilization: The first priority is to guarantee the existence of the human race and their comfortable life. Everything else is secondary.The book is quite heavy scientifically, so if you don't have an interest in science I suggest you skip it. It is based around the three-body problem (obviously) that has existed in physics for some time. Given a initial starting mass, position and velocity of three objects is it possible to determine the motion of these three objects. There is a lot of physics theories referenced as well as long descriptions of the problem which may bore some readers.Can the fundamental nature of matter really be lawlessness? Can the stability and order of the world be but a temporary dynamic equilibrium achieved in a corner of the universe, a short-lived eddy in a chaotic current?However, I found the premise interesting and am curious to see where the author goes with this series.

  • Julie
    2019-05-02 13:43

    I'm really waffling between whether to rate "did not like it" vs. "it was okay" -- I very, very rarely give out one stars, and it feels uncharitable because it was a book I wanted to like more than I did, and I want more diverse SF, but... no. I've consciously created a "not my cup of tea" shelf for this very book, however, because a lot of people seem to have liked it. Is this what hard SF is like? In which case, it reminds me of similar "I am completely unable to get interested in this" problems I had with Kim Stanley Robinson last year.I actually started this book months ago, but wasn't feeling it after the first chapter and stopped. I picked it up again now, stubbornly ploughing through because of the Hugos, and I kept waiting for it to suddenly turn around and wow me, but... it never did. At the 80% mark, I was still waiting.Learning more about the Chinese Cultural Revolution was fascinating, and I liked seeing its colossal effects on Ye, plus the feeling of 'science will save us' that permeates the society. Liu Cixin's imagination of an alien society was really good and unique (dehydrate! dehydrate!).Da Shi is, hands-down, the best character of this entire book. I much rather wanted to read his tales of fighting crime, with his seedy, no-bullshit, 'I'm not a good cop, but I'm a great cop' approach. He livened up every scene he was in! Instead, this was so much like reading a physics textbook.That's about where my praise ends, because I prefer emotional character-driven plots with some action, whereas this is a science-driven impersonal plod. Who the hell is Wang, our protagonist? After one single scene with his wife and son (!), they literally disappear for the rest of the book, and I couldn't tell you what his personality is like. He's just the viewfinder through which we see information unfold -- and unfold it does, with just reams and reams of exposition and info-dumps.The prose is dull. I didn't so much mind it being stilted, and the dialogue carrying the remnants of its original language (a conscious effort on the translator Ken Liu's part), but it's just such a trudging plod. I highlighted a few more poetic passages that I really liked, but for the most part it leans more to clinical and dry.I really liked the virtual reality chapters, but after all that buildup, I feel like it just fizzles out and absolutely, literally, nothing has been accomplished by the end of the book. With where the plot goes, the entire book honestly just feels like a prologue for the sequel.I feel like the Goodreads blurb was pretty awfully off-base, touting that it has "the scope of Dune and the commercial action of Independence Day". I... what??? There is literally ONE action scene, it occurs about 90% through the book, and the characters aren't actively involved, just watching on from afar. And while the alien world/society is interestingly-written, it is nowhere near the scope of Dune.Without characters with real depth to get attached to, I just never got hooked into this book. Ye has so much potential, but I feel like she wasn't fleshed out enough either -- people's more interesting psychological choices are left unplumbed/unexplored, meaning that I'm left with behaviour that I don't really buy, that doesn't seem natural for a human to do. Specifically: (view spoiler)[I'm talking about the rebels turning against all of humanity, to the extent of campaigning for the deaths of themselves and their own children. And this is a widespread movement?? We're such a selfish, self-centered, survival-oriented species that I just don't believe it. (hide spoiler)]The chronology and pacing is all over the place, too, hopping back and forth in time and as characters tell each other rambling stories. It's slow and sedate and takes forever to get anywhere -- the blurb trumps up (view spoiler)[the alien invasion (hide spoiler)], but even that doesn't happen in the book at all, and indeed, (view spoiler)[won't actually happen for another 400+ years! (hide spoiler)], so what in the world is the point of this story?I mean, I get the point. I get that it's about humans pitted against humans, and the divisive cracks that can tear us apart even without the physical presence of an Other.But man, I just couldn't bring myself to care. I'm so sorry, Cixin. I wanted to love it.

  • Claudia
    2019-05-04 11:08

    Update: I just discovered that it will hit the big screen in 2017:'t wait too see the result :)----Even better (if that’s possible) at a second reading. You know the story, what happens, where is heading, therefore you can concentrate on the details. It has so much harsh reality in it that makes your heart tighten. And it raises so many questions about what we have become: a species without control, without care, without vision. "Is it possible that the relationship between humanity and evil is similar to the relationship between the ocean and the iceberg floating in its surface? Both the ocean and the iceberg are made of the same material. That the iceberg seems separate is only because it is in a different form. In reality, it is but a part of the vast ocean…"Don’t we have the wisdom to change ourselves? Why are we not capable of preserving what we have? When will we be conscious how fortunate we are to live on such an amazing and unique planet?At the end of the book, there is an afterword by the author about himself and his road on becoming the writer he is today: one of the most beautiful mini-biography read. Somebody told me once to recommend a book and my first choice was sci-fi, but I asked first what genre she would prefer, because in sci-fi I could recommend plenty. Quite offended, she answered: ‘no, I do not read science fiction; I read only books from which I can learn something’. After a frozen moment, I smiled and said that I cannot recommend anything, because I read books only for fun – I don’t want to learn anything anymore, therefore I cannot help her... I remembered this episode because there is a fragment in Liu Cixin’s postscript that is exactly about this and match my feelings to the core:”I’ve always felt that the greatest and most beautiful stories in the history of humanity were not sung by wandering bards or written by playwrights and novelists, but told by science. The stories of science are far more magnificent, grand, involved, profound, thrilling, strange, terrifying, mysterious, and even emotional, compared to the stories told by literature. Only, these wonderful stories are locked in cold equations that most do not know how to read.”(reread from 20.08.2016 to 24.08.2016)PS. There is also a postscript from Ken Liu which I believe it should become a mandatory reading for all translators. All should be this dedicated and have the same respect for the works which are in their responsibility. -------------1st readBe careful what you wish for, lest it come true...That's pretty much the conclusion of the story, but... There is a big BUT involved: this is no common sci-fi story. It's a damn complex one.Half of it consists in non-fiction (better said historical fiction) facts, mostly from China's recent history (the way Liu presents the horrors of Cultural Revolution in 1966 makes your skin crawl). Add to this numerous mathematical models/problems, some physics laws and you get yourself an almost hard SF opera (but, despite all the scientific concepts, it is not a heavy reading, on the contrary.)Still, there is more - environmental issues are present as well:"Why does one have to save people to be considered a hero? Why is saving other species considered insignificant? Who gave humans such high honors? No, humans do not need saving. They’re already living much better than they deserve.[..]Saving a species of bird or insect is no different from saving humankind. ‘All lives are equal’"And among all these earthly matters, here comes the fictional part: a virtual computer game world and a distant solar system and its civilization.Until about 60% of the book, all the above appear to be disparate pieces of puzzle with no connection in between. It took me a week to read half of the book and just few hours to finish it after that breaking point. It is one of the most intricate stories I have read, due to its narrative threads and characters behavior. I guess the cultural differences do have a great impact even in a tale.And even if it's not fast-paced (at least, not in the first part), it is one heck of a reading; Liu Cixin's imagination and his brilliant way to combine the two opposite genres left me dazzled.At the end of this book, there is a postscript from the author for the English edition in which, among a lot of his beliefs which I very much resonate with, there is also the following fragment:There’s a strange contradiction revealed by the naïveté and kindness demonstrated by humanity when faced with the universe: On Earth, humankind can step onto another continent, and without a thought, destroy the kindred civilizations found there through warfare and disease. But when they gaze up at the stars, they turn sentimental and believe that if extraterrestrial intelligences exist, they must be civilizations bound by universal, noble, moral constraints, as if cherishing and loving different forms of life are parts of a self-evident universal code of conduct. I think it should be precisely the opposite: Let’s turn the kindness we show toward the stars to members of the human race on Earth and build up the trust and understanding between the different peoples and civilizations that make up humanity. But for the universe outside the solar system, we should be ever vigilant, and be ready to attribute the worst of intentions to any Others that might exist in space. For a fragile civilization like ours, this is without a doubt the most responsible path.Nothing more from me, except 5/5.

  • Warwick
    2019-05-14 08:56

    In an afterword, Liu expresses his opinion that science fiction should not be used to make social commentary but should instead restrict itself to playing with ideas of science and technology. I was surprised to see that because Three Body had struck me (tentatively, since I know little about China) as an especially Chinese novel, with much to say about how societies should be organised. The portrait of an ‘authoritarian’ alien civilisation, where individuality is repressed in favour of homogenous common benefit, seemed almost too obvious a comment on Communism, especially when juxtaposed, as it is here, with historical scenes of the Cultural Revolution.Whether you accept his protestations or not is unlikely to affect your enjoyment of the novel, which blends historical tragedy with the kind of slow-burning first contact story that harks back to the golden age of the 1940s and '50s in the US. Perhaps the most fascinating scenes in the book, and certainly the eeriest, are those set within a virtual-reality computer game which is concerned with the practical implications of the three-body problem in physics; these chapters seem grand and bleak and impressively inhuman in scope.Less successful, perhaps, are the interpersonal relationships and the motivations of the characters in general. The plot hinges on the assumption that, faced with a particular challenge to their scientific and existential ideas, vast numbers of people would deliberately opt for suicide, both personally and in terms of trying to destroy their entire species. This seemed a little infeasible to me, though perhaps it's just a more Chinese way of looking at things. Either way, it makes for a curious and unusual plot. (An interesting companion read might be Adam Roberts's Yellow Blue Tibia, which used first contact as a way of writing about Stalin's Russia.)The translation, from (the unrelated) Ken Liu, is excellent on a sentence-by-sentence level, though apparently he rearranged some of the chapters for an English-speaking audience, which I can't say I approve of.

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-05-05 13:47

    The most intricate alien-invasion story I have read. It is erudite, it is playful and it makes you struggle with the big questions throughout. It has everything going for it, except, maybe, romance. Read it.

  • Erica
    2019-05-07 12:09

    Alright. I read this wrong. It's all on me.I've got my Cone of Shame and am headed to the Shame Corner right now.It was nice being out for awhile but we all knew I couldn't stay out for long.I'm not sure if something was lost in translation, if I'm just really not good at science, or if I am waaaaay too American, but whatever the case, I did not enjoy this.Well, I did, but only through maybe the first half. Then it got tedious, then it got boring, then it got downright ridiculous, and then I stabbed my ears out so I wouldn't have to listen anymore.The story follows two timelines and characters that you know are going to intersect. It starts with (phonetically-spelled, based on the reader's terrible pronunciation): Astrophysicist Yeah Wen-Sia who sees her father killed by three fanatic teenage girls when he won't deny science during the Cultural Revolution. Then, her favorite and best teacher commits suicide, her mother, who is terribly unstable, abandons her, and her sister has joined the Revolution and is a fanatic in her own right. Ye is angry and carries this anger with her to the woods where she is employed in deforestation at the base of Red Coast Station which is, essentially, a military base with a huge satellite that sits up on top of a hill and is fairly inaccessible and anyone who even strolls near will be shot.The second storyline is that of (phonetically-spelled, based on the reader's terrible pronunciation) Wong Meow, owner of zero personality. He's a nanotech/biology somesuch researcher scientist in the current day who is alarmed when the nation's top physicists and other brainy sorts start committing suicide. I don't really remember, if I ever actually knew, how he falls into all of this, but he gets involved, via a tough-as-nails cop named Dah Shee, with a sort of investigation into the larger scope of the problem that is causing these scientists to kill themselves.Through a series of not-noticeable events, Wang finds out about an online game called Three Body and he decides to play. It's a weird game that follows civilizations as they grow and then collapse on a world where there are three suns and these suns pose a real-life (like, real to our lives) mathematical quandary called the Three Body Problem in which three things whiz around a stationary object (I think. I may be making the stationary object up) but each has a different kind of orbit and they're sort of random and you must find the pattern of their zoomings to predict when they'll be close to each other or the object and when they'll be farthest apart, etc. How can you track the movement of these three bodies to predict what they'll do next, is the question. At any rate, if you solve the Three Body Problem in the game, you win. Only really smart people can play this game, obviously. People whose brains think in spatial relationships and numbers at all hours of the day, I assume.There are more characters but these are the main two and their lives intersect and things happen.Before I spew forth my list of what I misunderstood, I'm going to share what I thought I was going to read.The Direction In Which I Thought This Book Would Go: (view spoiler)[Someone, namely Yeah Wen-Sia, bent on revenge against humanity, reached out to SPAAAACE during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Aliens got the message and replied. Some aliens want to conquer us because of course but others send us the Three Body game as an introduction to their history and to build sympathy so that we offer them solace in our system or, at the very least, help them with their three body problem. The Tri-Solarans race to see who gets here first and one of the groups manages to send two protons to Earth. But are they protons or are they actually ships/bacteria/something sinister from aliens? What do they do? Why were they sent?Chaos ensues as the Good Aliens try to help those of us who want to save Earth fend off the Bad Aliens - all the same race, just different factions - and their human allies who think people should be eradicated because they destroy everything. The Bad Aliens don't want us to spread throughout the galaxies because, again, we destroy everything so they must destroy us first. The Good Aliens want to colonize us and live here because their own homeworld is in peril due to the unpredictability of their crazyass suns. We lose no matter what but is it better to be enslaved or to be eliminated?Yeah leads one side while Wong leads the other and there's an epic rap battle at the end! WHO WON! WHO'S NEXT? (hide spoiler)]What Actually Happened and Why I Lost Interest: (view spoiler)[Ye reached out, bent on revenge, then made up an entire alien race based on one reply she received eight years after her accidental Message to the Universe was sent. Someone created a game based on Ye’s made-up alien race and scientist-types played it to solve a math problem but then went mad (it may have been the protons) and killed themselves. Maybe the Adventists, one of three cult factions that formed in regard to First Contact, were behind the game because they were actually the only ones receiving information from the aliens and, presumably, giving info back. The game was won but then the nature of the game changed and players found out there had been multiple inhabited worlds and now there was only one because the suns kept bumping into the worlds and destroying them and the one that was still left was doomed and the TriSolarans (those are the people from the game and also the aliens who have been talking to China) want to move here and also want to kill us and the new End Game is to get TriSolarans to invent space travel. Then there was a big philosophical political thinkpiece over on the alien world that we got to hear and it was slapstickedly represented and then there was talking and something else happened I couldn’t quite grasp, all of it built on a foundation of theoretical physics. Then we were back on Earth and a battle was about to begin. I think. (hide spoiler)]And here are the things I just did not understand at all: (view spoiler)[1) The computer game. I actually loved it. It was really intriguing. Wong had to wear a haptic suit (like in Ready Player One) in the game, though I don't actually know why except to feel the extreme temperatures but ok, that's fine. There are extreme temperature fluctuations in this game and that's probably important plus it's fun to say "haptic suit." But here's the thing. The game is about the fall of civilization when a chaotic event occurs and wipes everything out and the further civilization can build, the closer it can get to solving the Three Body Problem and winning the game. I thought it was a multi-player game and it seems there is some crossover because players in and out of game recognize Wang but it also seems everyone has to play their own version of the game. At first, I thought everyone was a player and wondered what they did while they were dehydrated - did they just log in and sit there, being dehydrated in a stack of other dehydrated people? (during chaos times, all but a skeleton crew dehydrates and gets stored in dehydration silos. That way, during stable times, everyone (and thing) can be rehydrated to work on civilization. Yay!) But then another player said she'd gone through 203 civilizations when Wong had only experienced 194, or something, and while everyone knew his in-game character, he knew no others, so...ok, confused. Just how does this online game work, people?2) How many people know there's been contact with other sentient life out in the universe? Apparently, a lot of people because there are cultish factions built around the idea of the Tri-Solarans: The Adventists who want humanity wiped out, the Redemptionists who want to help The Lord solve the Three Body Problem OR let the Tri-Solarans come live here peacefully just as long as everyone stays alive and unenslaved. Probably. And the Survivors. Those are all the lower-class, poor people who just want to keep living. The militaries and governments of some of Europe and of America (but not Canada or South America, apparently) all get together and talk about the upcoming war. The Chinese police force are aware of the incoming danger. And yet, supposedly, it's not widely known that intelligent life has responded to queries...What?3) Ok. Math. I suck at it, I admit, but help me out here. Ye sent her message and eight years later, she got a reply. However, The Listener got the original message and is the one who sent back the "Don't reply, you dumbass" message and then they get a reply, like, half an hour later. And suddenly, the two worlds are essentially emailing back and forth. Apparently. How'd that work?Related: The TriSolarans are on their way to Earth, right? They've sent two protons to ahead of them, kind of Trojan protons and I didn't understand what that was all about but whatever. They got two protons here, probably using their email service. It was probably sent as a pdf, or something. The point being, they got here fast because they could travel fast. However, the ship the TriSolarans are traveling to Earth in will take 450 years to get here because while it can drive 10 times the speed of light, it can't keep that up and has to do a lot of coasting. Yet people are all freaking out over this bunch of aliens who will be here in just under half a century. But then the Judgement Day ship - and I assume that's an alien ship? - shows up and is sliced to pieces at the Panama Canal. Where the hell did the Judgement Day ship come from?? What happened? Someone please explain this to me? I don't understand how time works! Actually, I think I must have missed an entire chapter in which the Judgement Day ship was explained because I have no idea what went on there.4) The sliced ship brings me to my next item of contention. How did humans know where the ship was going to show up? They had discussed different places to set up this crazy nanofilament trap (how did they set that up, by the way, without slicing up everything the filaments touched?) because they needed certain environmental factors to be met but none of those factors were where the ship may dock. So they set it up across the Panama Canal and voila! The ship appears. I don't even know where it came from. The sky? Was it an ocean liner? What was this ship and who was on it and how'd it get to the Panama Canal? EXPLAIN!5) So we get to meet the Tri-Solarans (I think. I mean, I suppose we could have been seeing mainly what was going on in Ye's head as she read the love letters that went back and forth from Earth to TriSolaria) and they're a little bit silly. They sounded like a Monty Python sketch about high-falutin' types who take themselves too seriously. Anyway, they decide they can't actually do any better living on Earth but they'll wipe us out anyway because we're going to become a disease later on so they may as well do the universe a favor. What kind of logic is that? They're on the brink of extinction and they decide we should go, too? But before they do that, they have to make us stop having science because if we don't, we'll be able to beat their asses by the time they get here. Interestingly enough, there is only one kind of science in the universe because what we can see, hear, smell...all the things we can sense are the only things that exist in the entirety of space and time so TriSolaran science and Earthling science are the same which is why they understand how far we've come and how far we'll get in another 450 years and so they must stop our science for their own safety. This is all based on information I assume the Adventists emailed to them over their years of loving correspondence? I...what?An aside: Thank goodness Mike Evans died pointing to the computers that housed the secret alien emails. Because why wouldn't you be toting those along with you to the Panama Canal, amirite? (hide spoiler)]Ok, so, it's obvious this went WAY over my head. Way way way over. I'm probably too inculturated in Western SciFi to be able to appreciate what I listened to. And, by the way, what I listened to was crap because, yet again, the narrator is some white dude who doesn't speak Chinese. Also, he made the Chinese tough-as-nails cop's voice alternate between a NYC beat cop accent and a Texan accent. It was bizarre. I did not enjoy that at all.I've read several of the other five-star reviews here and I've yet to find any enlightenment on my misunderstandings. I'm just seeing a lot of people going nuts over how amazing this is and I can't understand, even from their glowing reviews, what they read that I didn't.This is the first in a trilogy. I feel like I should listen to them all just to find out if any of my questions are answered but I'm not really into self-torture so probably, I'll pass.

  • TheBookSmugglers
    2019-05-05 15:02

    Ana’s Take:During China’s Cultural Revolution, young astrophysicist Ye Wenjie watches her father be executed in the name of progress in front of her very eyes. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.A few years after that she is co-opted to participate on a top secret governmental project that ostensibly studies satellites. The truth is something else (and out there).Decades later, scientists start killing themselves.In the near future, nanoscientist Wang Miao is asked – by a multinational military-police task force – to infiltrate a seemingly innocuous scientists club. He starts playing a virtual reality game named Three Body and becomes increasingly obsessed with it. The game follows the rise and fall of a civilization – let’s call it Trisolaris – over and over again as its players try to solve an abstract problem that has befuddled scientists for centuries: how to predict how three objects will orbit each other in a repeating pattern? The potential solution to that problem is essential to save the Trisolarians and to win the game.And then the countdown starts.Written by Cixin Liu and translated into English by Ken Liu, The Three-Body Problem is – and you have to forgive me the cliché – a tour-de-force. The story goes back and forth in time, following two main characters and bridging all the aforementioned disparate plotlines into a cohesive whole that blew my mind away.Because The Three-Body Problem is exciting as it is thought-provoking. As a science nerd as well as a puzzle enthusiast, I gobbled this book up like it was a box of Lindt chocolates. It is not immediately obvious what exactly is at stake here, the revelations happening with every twist and turn, as the story progresses and as the connection between the different elements become clear – or every time Wang entered Three Body and played a round. The evolution of this story is phenomenal, especially how it connects history, hard science and sociology in a readable, engaging way.Then we have the basic premise of the novel which is based on two principles: one, that first contact between civilizations doesn’t need to happen in actuality for things to change; and two, that an encounter with an alien race will not end well because why would it? Those two are the foundation on which the author has written this tome.With the cat out of the bag – yes, this is a novel about aliens, or rather, about first contact – the question becomes what Will Happen Next, as humans find themselves in separate sides of this pending war: some welcoming our new overlords, others wanting to fight to the very end. Even those factions are not as evenly split as that, within each of those there are One of the most impacting things about The Three-Body Problem is how the utterly personal, how one small independent action by one person can impact the lives of so many. Ye Wenjie’s decisions are completely and absolutely understandable as they are completely and absolutely unforgivable. And every single one of her actions can be traced back to that opening moment in the novel.If Ye Wenjie is a fantastic character, the same cannot (unfortunately) be said about the remaining characters. Wang Miao for example never becomes more than “eyes” – through him we see everything that is happening but he is never fleshed out enough to become an entity on his own.It is possible to argue though that the main character of the novel is not one single person. Rather, the main character is Earth – or, humanity as a collective. That’s who or what we are to root for (or against, depending on where you stand when it comes to appreciating how much our planet is worth). That’s another fabulous side of The Three-Body Problem as it’s almost a choose-your-own-adventure: you can choose sides and play this game any way you want.With all that said, the book does have a few structural problems. There is a lot of info-dump but I was happy to give those a pass given their fascinating content. The exposition though, was quite clumsy. At one point a major character says, literally in the middle of a stand-off, “let me tell you what happened in the past” and proceeds to tell another character What Happened Then.Finally, there is the question of the added translator’s notes at end of each chapter rather than as footnotes or at the end of the novel. This might sound incredibly nit-picking but the placement of those notes at the end of each chapter was intrusive as it broke the flow of the story as one has to stop and read them – with such a placement it became a matter of having to read them rather than choosing to read them because it felt like one would inevitably miss a piece of VIP information if not reading them there and then.But those are minor criticisms because The Three-Body Problem is easily one of the best books I read this year. I enthusiastically recommend it. The sequel cannot come soon enough.Thea’s Take:I confess that, initially, I was not particularly excited about The Three-Body Problem.The book’s synopsis (and frankly, package) isn’t very grabbing, and although there were many glowing author blurbs attached to the title, the story sounded incredibly broad and hard to get excited about or truly fathom. But then trusted folks – mainly, dear Ana – told me to give it a try, that I would love it, etc.I’m glad I listened. Let me put it this way: The Three-Body Problem is the best science fiction novel I’ve read in 2014. It might be the best novel I’ve read in 2014, period.The story is thus: During the frenzied height of the Cultural Revolution, a university student watches as her professor father is murdered by the zealous Red Guard. Booted from her own physics research, Ye Wenjie is sent to a remote countryside observation station where she eventually begins her work anew, under the careful watch of the government.Many years later, in the near future, prominent physicists are killing themselves – all are tied to an organization called Frontiers of Science. A scientist named Wang Miao is asked to join the club in order to get to the root of the deaths, when he stumbles across a virtual game called Three Body… and weird shit starts to go down.I don’t want to spoil the particulars of The Three-Body Problem, because there are many different revelations that coalesce and crescendo throughout the text – these are best discovered and realized on one’s own. (In fact, I kind of hate that the book description reveals that the strange world of Three Body is actually a representation of alien world Trisolaris, and the extremes it faces with its tri-solar environment. But that’s just me.) What you need to know is this:The Three-Body Problem is a book that is, like its namesake virtual game, rich with nuance and detail. It’s a story about first contact between humanity and an intelligent, doomed alien species in the strangest possible way; but more than that, it’s a human story about the flawed people who make decisions that ripple outward and change the course of time and history. This is a science fiction novel, but it’s also a story about the changing narrative of history, really – at one point in the book a story is told about an adult who explains to a child that the pictured people are not heroes or villains; they are history. On a much larger, metatextual level, this analogy holds true for Ye Wenjie, Yang Dong, Wang Miao, Captain Shi Qiang, and the whole assorted cast of the novel. This is a visionary look at history and the narratives that people impose and write over space and time.The Three-Body Problem is told told from a Chinese perspective, set during and after the Cultural Revolution. As Ana says, Ye Wenjie is forever changed – her heart frozen over – after watching her father’s death at the hands of the Red Guard. This is an integral part of her growth and decisions as a character. Beyond Ye Wenjie, however, The Three-Body Problem shows the profound impact that the Cultural Revolution had on scientific accomplishment and progress, on social, economic and interpersonal relationships from the smallest particle, to the grandest extrasolar levels. Again, the roots of this story lie in history – specifically Chinese history, but also on a grander scale of interaction and reaction of beings (and unstable bodies) that circle and coincide with each other.The Three-Body Problem is a hard science fiction novel, rife with exposition. This has the potential to be very good, or very bad. You do not need to be a physicist to read or enjoy this book, but if you do not like science, math, puzzles, or lengthy discussion about such things, you might not be as fond of this book as Ana or I. As for me? I loved the lessons in transmission of energy and broadcasting signals, the chaos and possible stability of three suns, the potential applications of nanotechnology and interstellar possibilities. Oh, I should also say The Three-Body Problem is a weird book – from the first time you enter Three Body, read the chants of de-hy-drate and meet the various philosophers, scientists, and emperors who make their own cameos, you’ll see just how weird the book can be. But it’s a beautiful, enchanting, dreamlike weird. And I mean that in the best way – it’s been a while since I’ve been fully blown away by true originality in SFF (that sounds so jaded, but it’s true). The Three-Body Problem is wonderfully, memorably different. And I loved that.The Three-Body Problem has some issues with clunkiness. I’m not sure if that is translation or syntax, or if it’s just a poor editorial choice to include footnotes throughout the text in the manner of an academic paper. I like that there are notes from excellent translator Ken Liu throughout the book; I am less enamored with the fact that these are represented as footnotes that interrupt the flow of reading. I agree that had these comments come in the form of end-of-chapter notes (see Losers in Space by John Barnes, for instance), the reading experience of The Three-Body Problem would have been improved.That said…the book is so damn awesome, I really cannot find other fault.For me, it’s a Top 10 book of the year – and I absolutely, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically recommend it to all.

  • Liviu Szoke
    2019-05-06 16:03

    Deja am trecut-o pe raftul special, cu foarte puține cărți de altfel, dedicat capodoperelor SF. În mod sigur cel mai bun SF citit de mine anul acesta și probabil în top 5 Cele mai bune cărți SF citite vreodată. În ciuda gradului ridicat de dificultate și a amplasării într-un spațiu pe care-l știu doar din filmele cu karate la care încă nu am renunțat nici măcar acum, cartea este pur și simplu un deliciu. Da, am savurat nu numai episoadele pline de explicații științifice, mai ales cele legate de matematică și fizică atomică, ci chiar și pe cele care explică jocul. Pentru că însuși jocul reprezintă o explicație în sine, metodă ingenioasă prin care autorul a reușit chiar să mă păcălească până la un anumit punct (deși de obicei nu-mi plac astfel de episoade, aici sunt atât de ingenioase încât m-au lăsat mască).Cu câteva săptămâni înainte de-a citi această minunăție de carte, am dat pe Facebook peste un articol despre cei mai mari ucigași în masă pe care i-a cunoscut omenirea. Pe primul loc mă așteptam să fie Iosif Stalin, după ce citisem despre atrocitățile comise împotriva co-naționalilor sovietici în „Arhipelagul Gulag”. Însă, surpriză, pe primul loc se situează Mao Zedong, unul dintre eroii negativi ai acestei povești și autorul celui mai mare măcel din istoria omenirii. Așa că volumul lui Liu Cixin se potrivește perfect în acest cadru, iar acel articol m-a ajutat enorm să percep adevărata dimensiune a dezastrului. PS: de mare ajutor sunt și notele explicative ale lui Ken Liu, cel care a tradus în engleză acest prim volum al trilogiei. Mai multe, pe FanSF: