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The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

The Three-Body Problem (2008)

by Liu Cixin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Remembrance of Earth's Past (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,9182172,133 (3.76)243
Three-Body Problem is the first chance for an English-speaking audience to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin. Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.… (more)
  1. 41
    Anathem by Neal Stephenson (storyjunkie)
    storyjunkie: There are stylistic and societal-implications similarities between the English translation of The Three-Body Problem and Anathem, despite being of very different worlds, and deep into different scientific areas.
  2. 11
    Blindsight by Peter Watts (electronicmemory)
  3. 00
    Tau Zero by Poul Anderson (br77rino)
    br77rino: I put this because both books are what I would consider hard science fiction.
  4. 00
    Contact by Carl Sagan (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Stories about man's search for intelligent life in the universe with elements of hard science

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» See also 243 mentions

English (207)  Catalan (2)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  All languages (217)
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
I've seen a few reviews saying that the novel takes a while to pick up, but as I was reading I never really got that indication. Sure, the sci-fi aspects take a while to materialize, but that doesn't indicate when the book starts to get good. The plot is definitely a slow burn at any rate (which isn't a bad thing), but I was just as lightly interested at the beginning as I was at, say, the middle for entirely different reasons. (My enjoyment did pick up quite a bit at the end when things get very sci-fi though).

As someone who has very little knowledge about any aspect of China, or any exposure to Chinese people, I found this book to be very confusing at the start (especially since I listened to the audiobook, and had a hard time keeping track of the names). The book is constantly jumping between timelines and events, and absolutely refuses to explain anything until the proper time. It will not spoon-feed you the plot, and you just have to accept that you need to wait until the end as things slowly start to make sense.

The author clearly enjoys attempting to explain complex scientific and mathematical theories in understandable terms and did what I—as a non-scientist who enjoys science—assumed was a good job.

It was a good book, with a few boring parts, and I'm hoping that the rest of the series will be even better given where the book ended. ( )
  Garden. | Jun 1, 2020 |
From the opening, I was struck by how much history I didn't know about China's Cultural Revolution. It might be obvious to anyone growing up in those parts, of course, but I was almost lost in that story long before I saw that there was anything sci-fi about the novel. This is a good thing. It speaks of good writing.

And then things changed. I became a frog in a pot. Small hints accumulate, surrounded by mathematical problems both fundamental and curious.

And then the MC's sanity is questioned. It's an open question that both the reader and the character must answer.

And then I got an idea. I could easily make the argument that all scientists in this novel are actually Main Characters, and indeed, that theory only becomes crystal clear later in the novel. It was a delight.

The novel is full of scientist suicides, damn odd hallucinations, all the way to a fantastic virtual reality game that draws intellectuals from around the world before devolving into a suggestive epic space opera featuring some of the most interesting aliens I've read about in a LONG time.

The worldbuilding is top-knotch-squared.

The clever uses of technology are the true highlights of the novel, and I'm upset. Why? Because the translations and publications for the next two novels are still in the future. Why am I still upset? Because I can hardly find the other works for this great author.

A grandmaster of Chinese sci-fi? I can't deny the fact. And just because I can't compare to other science fiction masters of Chinese literature is a null point. I am already a fanboy. I'll be revelling in every work I can get my hands on.

This is a fantastic example of how great science fiction can be. Truly inspiring.


This novel now a Hugo Nominee for 2015 because of the translation and introduction into the English-speaking market. It is a last minute replacement for Marco Kloos's Lines of Departure that was bravely self-removed due to the Sad Puppy 3 controversy. It wasn't his fault, and he got caught up in some seriously not-cool BS with this year's Hugo. He should be treated like any other Hugo Nominee. With respect and awe for the accomplishment it is, even though he withdrew.

On the other hand, after finding out that Three Body Problem took his place, I have to admit that it couldn't have happened to a better novel. I loved this one. It was really fantastic and it had everything I like to see in seriously good fiction.

This one might truly be my top pick for the year. It might be the one I cast my ballot on. But first, I need to read a few more Nominees. I take this very seriously. We bring our levels of joy and dedication to the ideas we thrive on. Awards are only as good as we make them. I refuse to let the Hugo become a quagmire.

Let the best novel win!

Brad K Horner's Blog
( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This is one of those books that is an incredibly smart read. This isn't the kind of book you pick up and sit back and enjoy. Unfortunately, it is way too smart for me. I have a very basic grasp of physics and this quickly surpassed everything I knew in a few chapters.

Parts of the book were very engaging and other parts of the book was speaking Greek.

I am absolutely amazed this book is a translation, as it is the best translated book I've ever read. Well done.

Still, with that being said, I wanted so badly to love this book...but just didn't have the knowledge to appreciate the intricacies.

Giving this 3 stars because I loved the part I understood. ( )
  cgfaulknerog | May 28, 2020 |
I guess I just don't care for hard sci-fi that takes place during the current age. ( )
  TinoDidriksen | May 27, 2020 |
Following the death of her physicist father because of the cultural revolution, Ye Wenjie, after naively performing a favour for a journalist that nearly lands her in jail, finds herself confined to an isolated radio transmitter/receiver station, possibly for the rest of her life. Disillusioned with humanity, but still fascinated by astrophysics, she becomes increasingly central to the running of the secret station, ostensibly set up to track and potentially destroy US satellites. She discovers, though, that she can transmit messages, bounced off the sun, vast distances. One such message finds an alien race trapped on a terribly unstable planet, looking for another. The alien race respond, and Ye Wenjie faces a choice - to ignore them, or invite them here, potentially to invade and destroy the human race. She chooses an invitation, triggering the most dramatic and potentially catastrophic set of events that humanity has ever faced. But they have over four centuries to prepare.

Cut to about 40 years later, scientists all over the globe are committing suicide, or having strange, seemingly supernatural events, happen to them, such as a countdown happening on every photo they take, or even before their eyes. Are these events linked? And if so, how?

The novel is exciting, rich, scientifically deep, with a wonderfully imaginative streak, especially when it comes to the aliens and the way they survive, in very different ways to humanity. There are strong ideas about nihilism and the inherently self-destructive nature of humanity here, and even moments of poetry, through top-notch writing. One of the best, most original science fiction novels of recent years. ( )
  RachDan | May 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 207 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Liu CixinAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hasse, MartinaPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Liu, KenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martinière, StephanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roubicek, BrunoNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sainio, RaunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simonetti, MarcCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tavani, BenedettaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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