Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Book reviews: THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM (2008) by Cixin Liu

What surprised me when I began reading this novel was its frank description of the horrors of China's political turmoil in the 1960s and 70s. (I had assumed such books would run into state censorship.)

It was tempting to interpret THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM as criticism of the Communist regime in the guise of SF... but as I read on, it became evident that the author has much bigger fish to fry. The novel carries a very serious message about the search for extraterrestrial life.

The plot has three interwoven threads: the tragic life of the scientist Ye Wenjie, the hunt to uncover a massive conspiracy against science itself, and the history of an extraterrestrial civilization pitted against Earth.

There is a lot I really like about this book. It is mostly well written, there is not an ounce of unnecessary text, it knows what it wants to say and makes a clear, reasoned argument. This is "highbrow" SF of the finest order.

It's refreshing to read SF that comes from a Chinese perspective! Cixin Liu breathes new life into a very old theme - "first contact."

It also contains original ideas and some amazing, memorable scenes.

The only weak part was the depiction of the extraterrestrials themselves - they struck me as behaving too much like Earthlings to be credibly "alien."

Does THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM's message hold up to scrutiny? If it does, it could influence the course of humanity's future. You should read the novel and make up your own mind.

Strongly recommended reading.

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