With the scope of “Dune” and the commercial action of “Independence Day”, “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. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
Please note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review courtesy of the publisher.
I first became aware of this book during the ALA Midwinters conference in Boston this January. Liu was autographing copies of his book and was wholly entertained by the complete lack of recognition of his English-speaking audience. He happily gave a description to each and every person he signed a book for and (with a wink) proclaimed that “Obama was currently reading his book!” Utterly charmed by his patience and enthusiasm for his book, I knew this would be towards the top of my stack when I got home from the conference. Having good thoughts going into the book, I certainly was not disappointed.
Initially my head was spinning a little as I tried to keep up with the cultural grounding presented in the first part of the book, but once I caught up (and with a little intrigued googling), I quickly became absorbed. Both historical context and well-explained physics kept me consistently interested and intrigued even without the overall plot. Ken Liu did a fantastic job balancing his translation, while still preserving (what I imagine) is the cadence and pace of the original work. It definitely felt like it was a different tempo than what I am used to, but not in a bad way. In fact, I’d argue it was good for me to have something a bit out of the standard shelves.
All that aside, the storyline is fascinating. I definitely disagreed with some characters and yet, I still related to them and were rooting for different ones at different times. And, considering I almost always hate alien encounters, I really enjoyed this one. I will confidently say this is a science fiction book that is unlike any other you may have read and I will definitely be continuing the series.
Warning: Contains some violence.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who should read it? Science fiction fans who enjoy a little real physics and history mixed into the story.
Want to read the whole series?
- The Dark Forest (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #2)
- TBD Translation (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #3)