The Three-Body Problem

Monday, April 9, 2018


The Three-Body Problem
Cixin Liu, 2007, English translation Ken Liu, 2014

Hugo Winner - 2015

Read Harder Challenge - A book of genre fiction in translation

Premise: Do you like trippy philosophy, complex morality, and lots of science in your sci-fi? Are you comfortable with that slight feeling of disconnection that can come with reading a translated work (even a really well-translated work)? Read it.

I just found out that there's a lot given away in the standard descriptions of this book. I'm personally really glad that I knew nothing going in.

That's not always my taste, often it's better for me to know roughly what to expect. (For example: if I'm in the mood for a light fantasy adventure, I'll be disappointed in a gritty medieval war story, but if I'm expecting a gritty medieval war story, I might be bored by a fairy tale retelling.) Sometimes a great author can get around your expectations, but I hardly ever have the patience for a book that reveals itself this slowly.

This book? This book, I never wanted to put down. I was just so curious. What's going on? How do these characters connect? What does this game have to do with anything else? What motivations are at play?

I've never read a science fiction book set in modern China, and it's a fascinating place to explore questions of society and humanity. Liu was a child during the Cultural Revolution, and the direct effects of this event on the characters are crucial to the plot.

I've read in other reviews that many people couldn't connect to the characters or found them flat. I found them subtle and complex.

The balance between aching emotion and intellectual fervor, the blend of rage, hope, and conviction, the growing layers of mystery... Reading this book felt like listening to a suspended chord on a growing crescendo, driven inescapably toward resolution.

It's brilliant. I loved it.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book

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