The Three- body Prob­lem

Not as sexy as it sounds

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Books - Guy Ha­ley

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

399 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Cixin Liu ( trans­lated by Ken Liu) Pub­lisher: Head Of Zeus

china has a lively sf scene in­ac­ces­si­ble to western au­di­ences un­til re­cently, so it’s a great plea­sure to read this book by Cixin Liu – the coun­try’s most pop­u­lar SF writer – in English.

The story is one fa­mil­iar to science fic­tion fans the world over ( we’ll avoid giv­ing away ex­actly which), with a dash of Philip K Dick­ian un­re­al­ity. Han­dled ex­pertly on the terms of the genre, it is see­ing this tale played out through a dif­fer­ent cul­tural lens that makes the book fas­ci­nat­ing. A good part of the story takes place dur­ing Mao’s Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion, a pe­riod of history so crazed it reads like science fic­tion it­self. The self­im­posed dou­ble­think of the time is ap­plied with del­i­cate force by Liu.

In the past, a weapons fa­cil­ity is built in a moun­tain par­adise de­stroyed by thought­less gov­ern­ment poli­cies. In the present, the sci­en­tist Wang Miao stum­bles across a con­spir­acy and is drawn into the mys­te­ri­ous Three Body game, in which a world is pe­ri­od­i­cally rav­aged by its tri­nary stars. An ob­scure con­nec­tion makes this clas­sic puz­zle SF.

The trans­la­tion is ex­em­plary. Ken Liu states his aim as a trans­la­tor is to pre­serve the im­pres­sion of a for­eign cul­ture, a goal he as­suredly achieves.

The book has a ten­dency to in­fo­dump but this is top- flight SF; smart, in­for­ma­tive and en­gag­ing.

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