Most of the science fiction works I have read have been dominated almost entirely by Europe and North America so it would be nice from time to time to come across works of science fiction from other parts of the globe to see a different perspective. I had to look no further than The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu from China. The Three Body Problem is no space opera, it’s more of the hard science fiction you would get from the likes of Arthur C Clarke and even then you could argue it’s harder than that.
This is part one of a trilogy but I thought I would do the books separately on the grounds that each book appears different to the other and I have only skimmed through the third one.
The Three Body Problem starts during the Chinese Cultural Revolution but most of it takes place in the present day (2000s in this case). There is a number of characters in this book and things start to develop when one of the characters gets a job with the Chinese state and manages to make contact with aliens. What was interesting was that the first alien response suggests that the aliens are not a united force, they pretty much say ‘you shouldn’t of brought us to your attentions, some of us aren’t that nice’. After this occurs, over the years strange things start to happen.
I won’t go into too much detail about the story other than to say scientists start to die suspiciously, realities get manipulated (one person starts to see a countdown through his vision which he can’t explain). A weird MMORPG video game appears that has some link to the events and then once the cat is out of the bag the humans take sides on if we should welcome the aliens or not. Through reasons explained in the book, although the invasion is yet to occur, they are definitely on to the people of Earth and they admit to us that they will be on the way and it’s up to the humans to get ready for this. Already as I am explaining it to you, there is so much going on as the story progresses.
The Three Body Problem being a work of hard science fiction has some fascinating science that I had to look up to understand (The Three Body Problem itself being one of them) and I can understand for some readers that it may not be the most appealing thing but for me gave me some depth to the story. The dialogue in the story is intelligent and we get to see how some thoughts and opinions of characters are made. Though I don’t think this is for everyone, but for those who will like it will not be disappointed. We do not see the aliens in this book but we do see the results of their actions and the impending doom they wish to bring and how it affects everyone.
The Three Body Problem is a very intelligent work of Science Fiction and in noway does it insult its reader. Although part of a trilogy it could easily stand alone as being one good piece of work (arguably like the original space opera Star Wars) it can easily work on its own without the need of the others. I urge you to give this one a look if you haven’t done so already.