The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

A science fictional cover shows floating object in front of a mysterious pyramid, with strange devices in the background, all done in a monochromatic blue palette.

By Gabriela P.

If you ever find yourself having trouble finding your next book to read, take my advice – choose a science fiction novel. I’m sure most people associate the genre with high-tech futures, robot butlers, and mind-bending math equations, but the most important aspect of the genre comes from the wonder of discovery. Experimentation, analysis, deduction: all keys to jump start intellectual excitement. Even if many of Cixin Liu’s novels may touch on those first, stereotypical themes.

The Three-Body-Problem begins in the middle of China’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s. From the perspective of a persecuted academic, the immediate result is a strong emotional hook. A woman, Ye Winjie, watches as her father is killed during a riot. She is sent to a labor camp and then to a hidden scientific facility, where she begins to use her background training in astrophysics. A test radio signal sent up into space results in an unexpected response eight years later. The alien civilization at the other end are the Trisolarians, from Trisolaris. As the book’s title says, they face a problem. Their world orbits three stars in an unpredictable pattern, continuously destroying civilization and leaving the inhabitants to restart. Earth and Trisosolarians become connected, with Earth being the Trisolarian’s new hope at finding a habitable planet. With 450 years to prepare, humans have to figure out what to do.

This highly inventive book jumps between time periods and across the universe. As the story slowly unfolds, the reader is constantly left to wonder, “where is this going to go next?” Keeping in mind that the book is the first in a trilogy, the scale of Liu’s world-building is astounding. The book is definitely not a quick read, but fans of scientific info-dumps will enjoy those sections. Regardless, the time taken to explore tangents and add description is ultimately fascinating and an experience you’ll remember for years. Or at least, until you read the sequels.

The title is available as a book, an e-book, and an e-audiobook.

Gabriela is a customer service specialist at the Miller Branch. She loves long walks, reading with her dog, and a good cup of coffee.

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