Blog

Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem Book Review

I have to admit, I hardly know anything about China. Sure I touched its history and culture during my time at university, but maybe I only know as much about the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath as I know about the consequences of consuming Tide Pods: what if one needs to go through a horribly detrimental and self-inflicted disaster before one can perhaps move to understand the errors of their ways and decide to take a more enlightened path?

Equally frightening and very much in line with the tone of The Three-Body Problem is the relative ease of my comparison between a globally important historical decade and a ridiculous contemporary internet meme. It certainly feels like there is nothing but a bleak future for us humans.

It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.

The Three-Body Problem begins with the backstory of Ye Wenjie, an astrophysicist who ends up making a decision which will shape the world in the book irreversibly. Without this background, I imagine it could be quite hard to symphathise with her. I instantly liked Ye, and not only did I sympathise, I empathised. Being the geek that I am however, I was anxiously waiting to get past the history and venture into unfamiliar and breathtaking science fiction. It took a while. And then it delivered.

All the evidence points to a single conclusion: Physics has never existed, and will never exist. I know what I’m doing is irresponsible. But I have no choice.

In the present time, nanotech researcher Wang Miao, is caught up in a military operation against an unknown enemy and is trying to solve a puzzle in an online game that is like no other game anyone has ever played before.

I refused to read the synopsis and kept myself away from spoilers, which is a lot harder than you might expect due to ubiquitous feeds everywhere nowadays–Oh yes, I am most certainly referring to you, Jon Snow. It added an extra level to my reading experience. I was left to my own devices to try and figure things out during Wang’s narrative and it made for a few self-affirming moments when I did before it was spelled out for me.

Without giving too much away so potential readers can also reach their own conclusions, I do want to touch on the central idea of the book: which sociological, philosophical and psychological ramifications could extraterrestrial contact lead to? Regardless of the many theories and apparent conclusions made in any of these aspects and areas, it makes me wonder how one would cope individually? Would you remain hopeful? Or would you descend into utter madness?

Your lack of fear is based on your ignorance.

Lastly, ever since I read a translation of The Lord of the Rings and was left rather disappointed, I have steered away from reading books in anything else but their original language. I felt that to truly appreciate a written work, it has to be savoured with authentic flavours. Yet, I was drawn to this book and maybe it was time to let go of stubborn self-imposed limits and rules. I am glad I did, for Ken Liu showed me that translated work does not always necessarily lead to a loss of richness and meaning.


Read an excerpt of The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Photos by Rigo Erives, Galen Crout and Tj Holowaychuk

SaveSave

First Photoshoot

Two friends recently got married and asked me to take some photos to memorialise a life-changing event as important as this. Having never done an actual photoshoot before, it stands to reason I was rather nervous. When I shoot for my Photo a Day project, I reshoot or try to make sure I have enough

Continue Reading

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash

I turned to a sci-fi orientated subreddit to help me decide on which book to read next. I very much wanted to finally take on Neal Stephenson’s work and people tend to have a strong opinion about him, so I wanted to make sure I was introduced to his writing with the right book. Settling

Continue Reading

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

What meager resources they have to offer us are not worth the risk posed by allowing such an unstable element into our shared space. The GC has already spent too much on helping this minor species to escape the hardships they brought upon themselves. I ask you, what benefit is there in making Humans one

Continue Reading

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time

Although it almost took me three months to read Adrian Tchaikovsky’s first science fiction novel Children of Time, I cannot give it any other than the maximum rating because of its big ideas and final message. External factors in my life might have taken my attention away from the book more than I have intended,

Continue Reading