Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem was the last book I read in 2018 and the first book I finished in 2019. It took me four months to finish this book but not because it was boring or difficult to read. On the contrary, The Three-Body Problem is a gripping novel about science and the dark side of humanity.
The Three-Body Problem is the first book in Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, originally published in Chinese in 2006. Three-Body was translated to English in 2014 and went on to win the Hugo Award for best novel in 2015. The novel spans over 40 years, beginning with the events of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s. Following Ye Wenjie, a young astrophysicist whose life was drastically transformed during the Cultural Revolution, the novel skips forward briefly to the 1980s and then to 2015, when it relates the present events in the life of Wang Miao, who is a nanomaterials researcher. In the present, Wang Miao becomes involved in a series of bizarre events involving China’s top scientists and the world’s military leaders that would later determine the fate of the entire human civilization.
With themes such as the Cultural Revolution, physics, and mathematics, Three-Body seems intimidating at first; however, the novel is filled with intrigue and secrets skillfully revealed throughout the novel to keep readers interested until the end. Although the novel reads like a journal article at times, the story is riveting enough that readers won’t mind the somewhat choppy narrative style. The novel is categorized as hard science fiction, and it does present a few physics and math concepts. However, it does so in a way that is easy to understand. Even readers with very limited or no prior physics or math knowledge (such as myself) would find the book compelling and enjoyable.
The story picks up in the second novel of the trilogy, The Dark Forest.
The Three-Body Problem (#1 – Remembrance of Earth’s Past) – Cixin Liu (2014 – English translation)
TOR; 396 pages (tpb)
Personal rating: 4/5