Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Just finished up The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. The book generated a lot of buzz after it was translated and released in 2014 and won a Hugo Award in 2015. Netflix announced they were going to do a series based on the books in September 2020 with with “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with Alexander Woo. Given the author and his work clearly had to have the support and endorsement of Chinese government since the book was popular in China before it was translated and approved for foreign publication, I expected that there would be a level of critical review in the West on a thematic level even if the science and story were very well done. Since the reception and recommendations, even from some highly visible “influencers”, didn’t indicate this, I decided to see for myself.
Unfortunately, The Three Body Problem is another Hugo award winner that is just disappointing. It is the classic “first contact with bad aliens” trope. It uses “hard science” topics like the physics and classical mechanics three-body theory as a key foundation to develop the story, but it usually feels like the author is just trying to show off how “smart” he is rather than using the science to develop the story. The “three sun” world with civilizations being created, destroyed and new ones being born was creative. The character development is shallow and all of the main characters are portrayed as essentially self-centered and fearful. The first half of story was slow and the last half rushed. The message that human beings are inherently gullible, selfish, and stupid and that the only salvation is a “science-based” global government was vomited out on the final pages in an almost too predictable fashion.
If you have read The Three Body Problem or , even better, the rest of the series, I would be interested in your feedback. For now, I might just have to just stick with murder mysteries and Heinlien-Le Guin rereads for my reading list.