Author: Liu Cixin (author) Ken Liu (Translator)
Book: The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1)
Published: November 2014 (First Published in 2007)
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Science Fiction
The Three-Body Problem came from the pen of China’s most beloved science fiction writer, Liu Cixin. Ken Liu translated this for the English-speaking Audience. It was the 2016 Hugo Award Winner.
At the height of China’s Cultural Revolution in 1967, Ye Wenjie witnessed the gruesome death of her father. Charge with sedition, Wenjie is given the chance to avoid punishment by working for the People’s Army in their research for extraterrestrial intelligence. Forty years later, this research is linked to the suicides of physicists and a complex virtual reality game. Wang Miao is an applied physicist that is called upon by an international force to find out why. Wang slowly unlocks the secret mission of a mysterious society: to help aliens invade Earth.
Liu Cixin’s novel goes into complex scientific topics, such as quantum physics and the limits of science to know nature. It also explores China from the inside and gives the Westerner a glimpse into Chinese science fiction. As one comes to know Ye Wenjie, Wang Miao and the other characters, one finds that they are complex, with rational reasons for their decisions. The science itself is interesting, and it is cleverly woven into the tapestry of The Three-Body Problem.
However, the author makes use of exposition, telling rather than showing, for large tracts of the story. This creates spaces that, while revealing interesting information, tends to defuse the power of the story. It is the only thing that holds the story back.