The Three-body Problem

The Three-body Problem

eBook - 2014
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Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project's signal is received by an alien civilization on the brink of destruction, which plans to invade Earth; meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.
Publisher: New York : Tom Doherty Associates, 2014
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781466853447
Branch Call Number: EBOOK
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Alternative Title: 3 body problem

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IndyPL_SteveB Jun 19, 2019

This is the first of an SF trilogy which is considered a modern Chinese classic. The English translation won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. You’ve probably never read anything like it. This novel is fascinating but written a bit stiffly. The sequels are even better, with the series as a whole challenging us on our place in the universe.

In 1967, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, a young dissident physics student is sent to work in an unusual radar outpost to listen for messages from intelligent non-human civilizations. Her decisions are the first step in turning humanity upside down. 40 years later, we follow Wang Miao, another physicist. He has gotten curious about a new computer videogame called “The Three-Body Problem”, which asks users to solve problems of a civilization on a planet which has unpredictable and destructive climate variations. The game is very difficult and some serious science background is required.

Of course these two stories are connected. Are aliens preparing an invasion or does the government just want people to think so, so it can assert more control? What mysterious company has designed the computer game and how is it connected? What is “our side” (as humans and as Chinese citizens) and who is really on it? It’s not easy, but if you are looking for something very different in SF, a novel that will challenge your intellect and also slowly draw you in to an unexpected reality, you will want to try this series.

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tjdickey
Mar 07, 2019

The limits of scientific exploration, and a terrifying first contact narrative, now in a solid English translation from the superlative writer of Chinese speculative fiction. The translation needs a lot of footnoting to keep Western writers apprised of cultural references, but the story proceeds at its own relentless and looming pace.
SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) projects got a lot of good press and global good vibes in the era of "Star Trek," but the Three-Body Problem asks the question if making contact with another intelligence somewhere in the universe is actually a good thing for the human race. The story oscillates among 20th century (and earlier) Chinese historical contexts, 21st-century scientific innovations, and a captivating VR game world which offers humans an introduction to another ancient - and *very* alien civilization.

k
Karen_Lewis
Mar 07, 2019

Meh - maybe too cerebral for me... tho idea of bodies drying up and waiting for next moist period is very interesting.

d
dnk
Nov 21, 2018

One of the best sci-fi books I have ever read. I found the scientific descriptions easy to understand (until the second to last chapter lost me a bit with sophons), and the characters, world building, and plot perfectly paced and clever. A dark view of history and the future, but now I want to read everything else Cixin Liu has written.

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Caicaix
Oct 18, 2018

I read this three book series in Chinese. The first book really made me sleep and I almost gave up. The series gets more and more mind-blowing starting from the middle of the second book. This is the best sci-fi I've ever read.

s
scribby
Aug 03, 2018

One of the most engaging and original science fiction novels I've read in a long time: an alien contact story that's a mix of hard sci-fi (physics-based), cyberpunk, and epic; set against the background of the modern history of China. The descriptions and style of dialogue seem a little unusual; this may be due to the novel's being translated. Thoroughly enjoyable, though a little nihilistic ("I started the fire, but I couldn't control how it burnt") and psychologically frightening in places. This is a chronicle of how the world does indeed end not with a bang but a whimper.

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tungster
Jun 21, 2018

If you like Neal Stephenson novels, especially "Seveneves," then you will probably like this novel, which is the first in a trilogy. It's a plot- and science-driven book; the author really likes explaining science and engineering, and works hard at making the science as realistic as our current understanding of physics permits. It's hard to say much without giving things away, but it's safe to say that this is something of a first contact novel.

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EClayRowe
Mar 30, 2018

"Lost in Translation" may be a better title for this book. The feeling that I was observing events rather than immersed in a real environment could not be shaken The most memorable of the characters were minor, like the chain-smoking policeman and the un-apologetic Red Guard fanatic. I think that may have a lot to do with not being able to keep track of Chinese names without a scorecard. The video game read more like a motion picture or television series, because human participants did not appear to be able to influence the outcome. Then again (spoiler alert) that may have been the point of the gaming aspect.

If this is the first book of the trilogy, I may read the others in a format where I can take notes. It was interesting enough to be outside the conventions of American sci-fi, and I am inspired to look into Russian and European authors to expand my scope, or to venture into the worlds of South Asian authors in the genre

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oldyellowcat
Mar 11, 2018

You do need a little bit of high school physics (or being kind of physics fan) to read, but that is all the hurdle there is.

First and second installments are mostly about plots, stories. Amazing setup, unprecedented imagination, deep logic and mind blowing twist.
Third installment, OMG .... the unexpected, unique and keen observation on humanity, politics and well...love.

For many days I cannot stop thinking about the characters and their quotes.

Someone should really really really make movies from it.

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kwsmith
Feb 25, 2018

The first part of this hard science fiction novel reads a bit like a Dan Brown novel, well, if Dan Brown was obsessed with astrophysics instead of symbolism. And then in the second part of the book, things get really strange. But it's these unique ideas and fresh perspectives that make this imaginative book so interesting. This is a hard science fiction novel, so don't expect a huge focus on the characters. The writing is awkward at times, perhaps stemming from the translation from the original Chinese text. My favourite part of the book was the historical depiction of the 1960-era Chinese Cultural Revolution.

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tungster
Jun 21, 2018

tungster thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

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ArapahoeKatya Oct 17, 2016

A contemplation on the first contact with extraterrestrials. Very imaginative and almost cinematographic. The setting in China of the Cultural Revolution and contemporary China is fresh and exciting. The action unfolds quickly, the characters are interesting . Hard SciFi.

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