Author Topic: Cixin Liu's Trillogy - The Three Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death's End  (Read 780 times)

Offline Norm38

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Who here has read Cixin Liu's trilogy?  I read Three Body Problem last year on my first flight to China.  I wanted to read a Chinese sci-fi novel and saw that 3BP had won the Hugo and picked it up.

Three Body Problem I really liked due to several elements.  The invented Chinese historical backstory, the cultural issues, the surreal nature of the communications with the Trisolarans, the nature of the Trisolarans themselves.  The Trisolaran society is one of the most novel alien races I've read since the middle part of Asimov's The Gods Themselves. (That is a trip).

On my next trip to China I read The Dark Forest.  That one is a more straightforward hard sci-fi space epic.  So not as inventive / surreal.  And I did feel it dragged a bit in the middle.  But it raised some interesting subjects and speculation about SETI and Zoo theory.  None of it good for humanity.

And on my last China trip I read Death's End.  The close of the trilogy was better than part 2 I felt.  Using hibernation, characters are able to skip ahead in time and humanity's evolution is explored.  The end goes kind of 2001, open to interpretation which is good.

I'm interested to hear what people thought of it.

Online gongora

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I'm about 3/4 of the way through the first one, liking it so far.

Offline Lar

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I'm reading the translated versions, Norm38, did you read it in the original Chinese?
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline missinglink

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(Mild spoilers ahead)



Have read Vol. 1, happy to give a gushing recommendation. It's been years and years since I enjoyed a "hard" sci-fi novel, I'd just about given up on the genre. In the U.S., the rise of the social justice warriors, diversity fetishists and feminists poisoned the field, provoking a counter-reaction from writers who don't feel that being white, male and heterosexual is a crime. Unfortunately most went overboard in an opposite direction: the catalog of Baen Books is full of military science-fiction that is crushingly, mind-numbingly boring and predictable, with cardboard characters and derivative plots.

What a breath of fresh air to read a writer who is not part of this reader-unfriendly war, but has an entirely different cultural background (while obviously having studied and absorbed the entire history of science fiction from Verne through the Golden Age and beyond). I read the novel in three nights, eagerly turning the page to see what happens next.

There is some "cultural strangeness" in observing how the characters act. Motivation for their choices isn't always made explicit; presumably the Chinese readership does not require it. However, the gruff cop flouting convention and the female scientist whose momentous decision changes the course of history are two well-realized, engaging protagonists if not always sympathetic.

The book explores a wealth of themes. Obviously, China's "cultural revolution" and the extreme misery that it inflicted are one. But the science fiction is not window dressing. The author has thought long and hard about the "Fermi question" and approaches it using the toolkit of game theory, although this only comes to full flower in vols. 2 and 3, of which I have only read summaries.

Whether intentionally or not, the plotline seems to mirror or even forecast (it was first published in 2008, I believe) current events, specifically the massive migration from third-world countries into the first world aided by a "welcoming culture" that some consider nothing short of suicidal.

I understand that a Chinese film studio has made a big-budget production of vol. 1 and I really look forward to seeing how it turns out. The novel does have several passages that should lend themselves well to being realized on the silver screen. The final scene of the book, taking place on the Panama canal, should knock people's socks off.

tl;dr Hawking was right, we should think twice before putting up a big neon sign to the cosmos.

Offline Norm38

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I'm reading the translated versions, Norm38, did you read it in the original Chinese?

No.  I am trying to learn some Mandarin, but I won't ever be literate.  I read the translation too.  (The translator notes are interesting).
I've been curious though how the two versions differ for someone who has read both.

Offline Norm38

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I understand that a Chinese film studio has made a big-budget production of vol. 1 and I really look forward to seeing how it turns out.

Hadn't heard that, though Wikipedia says it's on hold.  Hopefully it gets finished and gets a US release.

Offline The_Optimist

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I think the series is fantastic. It is clearly written from a different perspective compared to western sci-fi and I found that very refreshing. I also enjoyed Metro 2033 and Metro 2034, written by Dimitry Glukhovsky, which gives the reader the same feeling of observing sci-fi through a slightly different cultural lense.


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Offline Basto

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I have read all 3 and really loved them.  It was great reading sci fi with a different cultural perspective.

Itís a painful story though. (I read Deaths End in December 2016 and was already in a somewhat emotionally fragile / nihilistic state as a result of current events. This book did nothing to help that).

Offline joncz

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And The Three Body Problem ordered...

Offline The_Optimist

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And The Three Body Problem ordered...


Cool, let us know what you thought!


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Offline Norm38

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I have read all 3 and really loved them.  It was great reading sci fi with a different cultural perspective.

Itís a painful story though. (I read Deaths End in December 2016 and was already in a somewhat emotionally fragile / nihilistic state as a result of current events. This book did nothing to help that).

I agree with that.  Definitely not feel good books or a nice distraction.  Not much optimism to be found either for humanity or the galaxy at large.  I haven't decided yet if that's realistic, but I'm leaning that way.

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