Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Translated from Chinese by Ken Liu --- 399 pages

Cixin Liu is the most popular science fiction author in China, where science fiction is a popular and thriving genre.  The Three-Body Problem is the first book in a classic space opera trilogy (the other two volumes are The Dark Forest and Death's End) published in China in the early 2000s and now translated into English by Ken Liu.  The other two volumes are also being translated and should be available soon.  The author recently signed a contract with a Chinese studio to produce a film trilogy based on the books. The Three-Body Problem won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

This is a dense and complex book about First Contact with an alien civilization, with a predominantly Chinese setting, so there is a lot of (necessary) exposition, since many Western readers are unfaniliar with contemporary Chinese literary conventions, Chinese science and recent Chinese history, which all bear heavily on the story.  But there is also a lot of nuts-and-bolts physics --- the "three-body problem" is a classic conundrum among physicists --- virtual reality games and an alien invasion welcomed by some disillusioned scientists and fiercely resisted by others, with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. The special effects for the films should be awesome.

For serious fans of classic science fiction.

Click HERE to read the New York Times review.

Click HERE to read the review from National Public Radio.

Click HERE to read the Hugo Award announcement from the UK Telegraph.

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