The Three-Body Problem - Liu Cixin, Ken Liu

Original title: 三體

 

A three-body system is chaotic, unpredictable and the tiniest of perturbations can cause massive effects...

 

When I first saw The Three-Body Problem I was immediately intrigued, not just by the synopsis but also Chinese SF. I haven't really read anything like it. It sounded interesting and I wanted to try it.

 

I'm so glad I did. This must be one of the most memorable books I've read this year. Set against the background of the Cultural Revolution in China, it focuses on a classified military project that will, in the long run, have some disastrous effects on the whole planet.

 

In modern day China, strange suicides among scientists occur, all leaving with a message similar to: "There is no science". Why? There's also a mysterious computer game, which was by far the most interesting part to read for me. Its world is engaging, the question sounds simple. In a civilization that has been destroyed several dozens of times because of the unpredictable movements of the Sun, how can you predict its movements? Failed attempts to solve this question will inevitably lead to destruction of the civilization. Initially it's just a computer game, but there's far more behind it.

 

I can't say much more without really going into spoilers and I would like everyone to find out for themselves as this really was a very interesting novel. Like I said, I preferred the scenes set in the game, but the rest of the story, both the present day and Cultural revolution China, was very interesting to read as well. There's social/political commentary without becoming too preachy for my taste.

 

I've never read a book in Chinese, so I'm not sure, but it read as a good translation. Filled with notes from the translator, it also read like something different from the books I'm used to read as I admit I don't think I've ever read anything published originally in Chinese before. It was a nice new experience.

 

Both the story and the writing surprised me in a good way. It's not hard imagining this has been a great success in China. My only disappointment right now is that it's (once again) the first book of apparently a new series, and I really liked how the ending of this novel was done.

Without a big battle at the end, or with a super solution to solve the problem. Just that they don't know what to do either, and they'll have to wait another 400 years to find out...

(show spoiler)

Still, I'm curious to find out how they'll work things out in the next book, so fingers crossed that they will translate the rest of the series as well. (Or, I'll have to learn Chinese). Would recommend.

 

The Three-Body Problem is the first in the Three-Body Series. The second book, The Dark Forest, is expected to be published in English translation in July 2015.

 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.