Ye Wenjie watched her father being beaten to death during China’s Cultural Revolution during the late ’60’s for not renouncing his scientific beliefs. Ye, given the chance to redeem herself for her own transgressions, ends up working at a secret military communications base which sends signals into space. Her discoveries and actions there impact our future in a major way.
Skip forward to our present, Wang Miao, a nanomaterial researcher is drawn into helping the Chinese police infiltrate The Frontiers of Science group, a mysterious and potentially dangerous group of people who are interested in handing Earth over to aliens.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
Three-Body Problem is on our shelf not only for the science and philosophical aspects of it, but won the Chinese Nebula and Galaxy award.
It was translated to English by Ken Liu, who is himself a Hugo, Nebula & World Fantasy award winner.
The 2014 translation was nominated for the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
Rating (5 stars)
I’m going to be painfully honest here, I struggled with this book. A lot.
As much as I love science and philosophy, oftentimes concepts (especially advanced ones) fly right over my head unless they’re explained very slowly. I read and re-read parts, let them sink in as much as possible, and in some instances, they remained as slippery as an eel until I was able to hash it out with someone who read the book, and is a lot more science-minded than I am.
That said, I loved this book.
There’s enough explanation of the goings on that if you don’t 100% “get it”, you can still enjoy the story.
The other reason why the book works well is the fact that the translation is phenomenal. Having snagged a translator who has a sci-fi background saves what might have been a very tedious story, and turned it into a masterpiece.
Read this book:
if you’re a math/science/philosophy lover. There are a lot of brain busting ideas and problems to ponder. Even if you’re none of these, it’s a great introduction to some very common and old problems.
Don't Read this book:
Perhaps if you’re easily lost in thought, you might want to skip it. You might never finish the novel.
Once you're done, do this:
Try to wrap your brain around the Three-Body Problem. See if you can make heads or tails of the actual problem.
oh, 5 stars…
I wonder if you’ll have enough stars after reading the next two books of this trilogy 🙂 They are much better than the first one. Almost all of the most impressive characters, plots and ideas of the trilogy are from the next two books.
Nooooo…. don’t tell me that! I”ll have to convince Kallen to institute a new rating for the next two books.
Seriously though, as a rule, five star ratings aren’t something I think should happen all the time, but I really enjoyed this book. Having struggled through Metro 2033 because of the translation, I felt Three Body deserved five stars *because* of the translation.
I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on The Dark Forest in July when it’s released. I just hope the fact that it’s a different translator doesn’t impact the glow too much.
We’ll have to turn up the stars to 6!
This book just received a late nomination for Best Novel in the 2015 Hugos — I’m hoping it’s included in the voting packet so I have an excuse to read it!