📚 The Three-Body Problem (Liu Cixin)

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The Three-Body Problem (Chinese: 三体; lit. ‘Three-Body’; pinyinsān tǐ) is a science fiction novel written by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin. The title refers to the three-body problem in orbital mechanics. It is the first novel of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past (Chinese: 地球往事) trilogy, but the whole series is normally referred to as The Three-Body Problem.[1] The trilogy’s second and third novels are The Dark Forest and Death’s End respectively.

The first volume of The Three-Body Problem was first serialized in Science Fiction World between May and December 2006.[2] It was published as a standalone book in 2008, becoming one of the most successful Chinese science fiction novels of the last two decades.[3] The novel received the Chinese Science Fiction Yinhe (“Galaxy“) Award in 2006[4] along with many more over the years. By 2015, a Chinese film adaptation of the same name was in production.

The English translation by Ken Liu was published by Tor Books in 2014.[5] Thereafter, it became the first Asian novel ever to win a Hugo Award for Best Novel,[6][7] and was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel.[8]

The series portrays a future where, in the first book, Earth encounters an alien civilisation in a nearby star system that consists of three solar-type stars orbiting each other in an unstable three-body system.

The Three-Body Problem is one of those novels that takes on new meaning as each layer is revealed. It has a lot to say about science, culture and progress.

The odd thing is that the less practical your research is, the more they’re afraid of you—like abstract theories, the kind of thing Yang Dong worked on. They are more frightened of such work than you are of the universe winking at you. That’s why they’re so ruthless. If killing you would solve the problem, you’d all be dead by now. But the most effective technique remains disrupting your thoughts. When a scientist dies, another will take his place. But if his thoughts are confused, then science is over.” (Page 125)

In the end I was left feeling incredibly small and rather insignificant.

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