By Cixin Liu
Translated by Ken Liu
Book Jacket/Cover by Stephan Martiniere
416 pages printed paperback
ISBN 978-0-7653-8203-0
Published by Tor Books Publishing

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM” is a Hugo award-winning novel by Cixin Liu. Cixin is China’s best-known science fiction writer. He is also the author of the short story “THE WANDERING EARTH”.

The English translation is by Ken Liu, who is himself a Hugo award-winning author.

The cover art was provided by Stephan Martinière, a science fiction and fantasy artist, cartoonist, and director.

This book is the first of a trilogy called “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”. The trilogy is more commonly referred to as “The Three-Body Problem”. 

The title of the book, “Three-Body Problem” derives from a physics and classic mechanical theory about three masses and solving their motion in relation to each other.

I’ve found Cixin to have based this book on science, history, and plenty of research and imagination. Did you know that Alpha Centauri is really a three-star system? Not I.

The story begins in China during the cultural revolution. The book provides some historical references, which I appreciated. It follows the voyage of one Ye Wenjie. From loving daughter traumatized by the death of her father to the one who triggers the human destruction at the hands of an alien race, the Trisolarans.

The Trisolarans are from Trisolaris, a planet orbiting our closest celestial neighbor, Alpha Centauri. The planet orbits in a very unpredictable way. Think of the planet as being passed around three suns. This makes survival and the development of any advanced civilization challenging.

But this is not just the story of Ye Wenjie. The book introduces several characters who are central to the defense and defeat of the humans of Earth. I expect to play important roles in the next two books. Not having read both books, I can only speculate.

I had a minor issue with the author’s use of “Human terms” like radio, computer, microprocessor, or binary in describing Trisolaran technology. It would be preferable to use “Trisolaran” terms. I figure since he goes into some details on what these devices do that most science fiction fans will know what they are.

Given the details, I sometimes wondered if I was not reading a college textbook rather than a science fiction novel.

Overall, a good book. I like that the story has some scientific and historical basis. This makes the story more believable, but still be fiction.

© 2021, Norman Talon. All rights reserved.

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