Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Three-Body Problem drags me in

When my hold on The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin came up at the local library, I had absolutely no memory of reserving it or what it was about. Still, I figured I’d better read it.

And I’m glad I did. And when I learned that there were two more books, I reserved them as well.

Spoilers... spoilers... spoilers...

The book is a very slowly developing one where so much of what is actually going on not getting revealed until close to the end. The characters and the readers wander through a disturbing fog.

Which is very effective because the book turns out to be an alien invasion story and the aliens’ goal is to subvert and confuse human culture before their ships finally get here in a few centuries. Create cults and fake miracles and just obfuscate science in general.

According to Wikipedia, The Three-Body Problem is one of the most popular science fiction books in China, which happens to be where it is from. And it definitely has a different feel than most American science fiction, although I have some flashbacks to 70s new wave. The point-of-view characters are classic anti-heroes (a la Death of a Salesman) The most conventionally heroic character, cowboy cop Shi, who actually solves the conflicts, is a secondary character.

The Three-Body Problem is a fascinating, difficult to book that is also an absolute page turner. I found it engaging and off-kilter and I couldn’t put it down.

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