The Three-Body Problem

Author Liu Cixin
Vote 10/10
Reviewed on 2018-11-04
Read in French

I don’t usually like sci-fi (or any specific genre, to be honest), but I was drawn to this book by an article I’ve read on The Guardian. There were two or three elements that blew my mind already while reading the article, so I was very happy to accidentally run into a French translation while visiting this year’s Book Festival of Mouans-Sartoux.

It tells the story of a young girl, daughter of a famous scientist that meets a sad fate during the Chinese cultural revolution in the sixties. The girl becomes an astrophysicist and while following a theory on radio transmission gets in touch with a remote alien civilization. The problem is that, on one hand, the aliens are hostile and want to take over the Earth, and on the other, the girl is unhappy with life on Earth and welcomes the intervention. This decision triggers a formidable chain of events that entails a story told over a period of millions of years.

The Three-Body Problem is the first in a trilogy and ends with the Terrestrians’ awareness of the future invasion, that will be the subject of the other two volumes.

The book contains amazingly accurate (from my perspective) description of scientific theories, both existing and plausible. I don’t think any specific background is needed to understand them, even though I suspect that physicists (or people well-read in the subject) might appreciate them in a more nuanced form. Either way, this kind of description ends up meaning some practical, down-to-earth action a few pages in the novel, so there’s no problem if we miss a detail or two (I must’ve missed way more than that, and still).

A highly enjoyable and disturbing experience.