Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Book Review: The Three-Body Problem

Although I'm a long-time fan of Science Fiction, I have to admit that the vast majority of what I read comes from either the United States or the United Kingdom, with a little Canada thrown in occasionally (but usually not on purpose), so when it comes to world Science Fiction, I'm pretty much limited to the Polish author Stanislaw Lem (1921-2006) and that's about it.

So I was thrilled to see that last years Hugo winner for best novel was a book out of China; specifically The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, and that it was the first of a trilogy that have recently been translated into English.

The story begins in 1967, during China's Cultural revolution, and taking place over the next fifty years involves conspiracy, extra-terrestrial communication, and an intriguing video game called "The Three-Body Problem". Much of the novel works as as a fast-paced techno thriller in which scientists around the world begin stopping research (and worse), but refuse to explain why, and a nanotechnologist who gets involved in the game and ends up finding it involves something much bigger than he ever imagined.

In some ways, the book shares concepts with Ernest Cline's Ready Player One or Terry Pratchett's Only You Can Save Mankind, but the similarities are superficial at best. A big part of what I love about this novel is how well it paints people and their motivations over the course of their lives. The fact that almost all of the events of the novel take place in China (a country I am not nearly as familiar with as I should be), actually helped me in terms of connecting with characters, as I found the setting so different from my own.

I don't want to go into how the novel ends or any of the big reveals, but it is well worth the read and you'd better believe I'll be checking up on the sequel The Dark Forest.

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