The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

I’m copying over some reviews of titles I’d written up in 2018 and earlier, just in case these titles are new for other people.

Liu Cixin is an author I wish I could be more familiar with. The Three-Body Problem was a positively stunning piece of hard science fiction with a profound hint of the fantastic still built on extrapolation.
I don’t know what is lost in the translation from Chinese into English, but I find it difficult to believe that it could have been more well-written if it had been written originally in English. I suspect that this is equal parts the quality of the original material and the caliber of the translator. From what I have read it appears that the second volume in the trilogy has a different translator while the final volume is translated by the same man who expertly converted The Three-Body Problem into English. Sadly, though the second volume is available now, I have to wait until later this year before the third book is released in English.
This novel begins during the nightmare of The Cultural Revolution spearheaded by Chairman Mao and a good deal of the narrative focuses on the anti-intellectual and anti-progress philosophy that was imposed upon the whole culture during that time period beginning in the 1960s and continuing for a couple of decades after that. It is interesting, to say the least, to have a perspective on that period provided by someone who grew up through it as the author had.
From there it grows into a frankly captivating and disturbing first contact narrative that unfolds in a rather unexpected way. I can’t say much without giving altogether too much away, but I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone who enjoys science fiction or simply enjoys science and wants a fictional template through which certain concepts can be expressed and better visualized.
I look forward to the second novel and wish that I could look forward to reading the third book much sooner than it is going to be available to those of us who can’t read a Chinese dialect.


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