The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu

“The Universe consists of non-simultaneously apprehended events” – Buckminster Fuller
three-body-cover
There is this one particular scene where author explains how a 2D surface when unfolded contains more surface area for adsorption than its higher dimensional 3D form, with the example of a cigarette filter. Having given this analogy, Liu later cleverly segues into unfolding of proton which according to him is of 11 dimensions. This is the beauty of Three Body Problem, everything you require to pelt along the plot is right in front, kindling your scientific mind, like a Christopher Nolan movie.

I consider 三体 of a dimension higher than my usual perception, proper unfolding of which requires general understanding of engineering, physics, etiology, Chinese history, so on and so forth. Many allegories and references might have been lost in translation for English readers, who like me conclude the internecine civil unrest in China by a single red word – communism. Initial Red army prosecution of Zhetai for his reactionary ideas to the plight of Galelio or Brno, Red coast base for covert cold war weaponry, initial extremist transmissions for blind espousals, racial and communal fascism for officious government, scrupulous research for reservation of education, Trisolarian chaotic eras for Earth’s prime extinction events, ETC for religious invocation , miracles and religion in general were a few that caught my eye.
mao-chinese-revolution-2560x1600
As for the characters, though not coterminous, they were well developed for their roles, given proper background for their actions, allowing a character pov, from the Physicists Ye Wenjie, Nano research engineer Wang Miao to the arrogant Police officer Da Shi. The joy of discovering post convection zone reflectivity of Sun by Wenjie and the explanation of same was some of the finest science description I’ve ever encountered. Absolutely loved how they kept the mystery of Trisolarians till the end, though it was constantly teased through game plot of three body. Similarly the unfolding of Proton and the reaction of microcosmos on its first encounter with a higher dimension were highly thought provoking, bating the significance of our existence in the vastness of universe. And author was careful in keeping the Trisolarians on technologically comparable scale with their limitations rather than making them a highly Type 3 civilization.

I would advice a blind read, without any peek into the plot for the book cleverly holds back info, like the first Red Coast base did with Ye Wenjie.Perhaps the most science-y hard sci fi I have read till now, well written and translated, where it was way easier to consider the flummoxing science as something scholarly advanced than carefully crafted fiction. And Liu was considerate enough to give it a layman treatment where even the seemingly unintentional data dumps were secretly training readers for the intricacy of the plot that followed.

High quality of this book make me suspect a vastly unexplored sci fi scene from mainland China, which like Trisolarians, if could, would proton print these words to my retina.

“You are bugs”

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4 thoughts on “The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu

  1. First of all I would like to say superb blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask
    if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how
    you center yourself and clear your mind before writing.
    I’ve had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10
    to 15 minutes tend to be wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any suggestions or tips? Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. That’s highly flattering. Thank you.
      I scribble down my thoughts as I read and try to work around them later. I have trouble with beginning as well, but having a structure to work on always helps. Also when I feel stuck, I leave it as it is and revisit when mind is clear. I know its very primitive, but hope these help you.

      Like

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