Thursday, May 19, 2016

Science Fiction: The Three-Body Problem By Cixin Liu

(Drivebycuriosity) - I love science fiction. But I get often disappointed. Most of the so-called sci-fi books and movies tell just fantasy stories. It became increasingly challenging to find  "science fiction" that deals with science and not just with dragons and princesses. But recently, what a joy, I discovered a novel which comes up to the classical masterpieces by Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark: "The Tree Body Problem" by Cixin Liu (amazon).  The book, which is translated from the Chinese, won last year`s Hugo Award for best novel, the Oscar in the sci-fi world.

It´s not at surprise that the prestigious prize went to China. The huge country has been transforming  from a society of poor peasants to a modern economy in few decades. China´s rapid transformation is almost like science fiction. Today China is a powerhouse of science: There are already over 2,000 universities and colleges. And a population of about 1.3 people (about 4-times the US) is a huge talent pool for authors in any genre. I think can expect more serious sci-fi from China in the coming years

The novel, the first part of a trilogy, is set in China and spans over a period of 5 decades: from 1960 through present time (this is a spoiler free blog. You can find a synopsis here wikipedia). It´s real (hard) science fiction. Even the name giving "three body problem" is taken from physics & mechanics (wikipedia). Cixin Cixin Li used science, mostly astrophysics and quantum mechanics, as a basis and shaped it into a fascinating tale.

The plot has enough mysteries and puzzles to keep me curious, but the tale stays all the time plausible. I cared about the fate of the characters, mostly scientists of course, and got entertained while refreshing my knowledge in physics & evolution theory and learned even more. The plot also covers a bit of China´s recent history, especially the madness and the horror of the cultural revolution there. I liked Liu`s precise style and his accurate & analytical descriptions of the human behavior.

I really loved reading this book and I appreciate that a hard science fiction novel got a prestigious  price against the current trend calling stories about dragons and princesses science fiction.

1 comment:

  1. I have not read Cixin Liu's book, but having read your review, I will. I enjoyed Andy Weir's, The Martian, too.