1967: Ye Wenjie witnesses Red Guards beat her father to death during China’s Cultural Revolution. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.
Four decades later, Beijing police ask nanotech engineer Wang Miao to infiltrate a secretive cabal of scientists after a spate of inexplicable suicides. Wang’s investigation will lead him to a mysterious online game and immerse him in a virtual world ruled by the intractable and unpredictable interaction of its three suns.
This is the Three-Body Problem and it is the key to everything: the key to the scientists’ deaths, the key to a conspiracy that spans light-years and the key to the extinction-level threat humanity now faces.
I decided to pick up The Three Body Problem as my first ever sci-fi read since November is #Scifimonth. This book has great reviews (even Obama and Mark Zuckerberg highly recommended this book) and it won the Hugo Award for best novel in the year 2015. Unfortunately, I cant really connect with this book.
To be honest, I did not understand half of the theories and scientific terms in this book. I had to google some of the terms and theories in order for me visualize some scenarios explained in this book. Another problem with me is the characterization of the characters in this book. If you expect in depth characterization and well executed character arcs of characters, then this book is really not for you. My biggest problem is Ye WenJie’s character arc. Apparently she lost faith to humanity and hates Earth a lot rendering her to decide to invite aliens (the Trisolarans) to invade Earth. For me, the triggering factor is that she witnessed her father beaten to death by the Red Guards from Tsinghua High School supported by her own mother and younger sister. I don’t think such factor warrants her hatred towards Earth until she had to resort to aliens to destroy Earth. Further, the other characters are rather dull and to some extent I think their existence in this book is just to explain scientific theories.
Needless to say, there are some pros in this story. Cixin Liu managed to incorporate Chinese history into this hard sci-fi beautifully. The theme of this story is straight-forward as it uses the infamous three-body problem and thereafter links it to the current issues that we are facing in this world. Cixin Liu brings out the dark side of humanity with this story. The plot, although simple, is rather engaging as Cixin Liu managed to tie up all the plot lines in the second half of the book. Not to mention that Ken Liu did a fantastic job in translating the book and I would assume that all the complicated scientific terms were accurately translated.
Although this book is just a 3.8/5 star rating to me, I will still continue this series as I heard it gets better in Book 2 and 3 of this series. All in all, my first experience with hard sci-fi is rather frustrating but at the same time thought provoking.
“Even if God were here, it wouldn’t do any good. The entire human race has reached the point where no one is listening to their prayers.”