Book Review: Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem, translated by Ken Liu, and published by Tor, is the first Chinese science fiction novel translated into English. It is wildly popular in China, and with good reason.

The Three Body Problem bears strong resemblance to American Golden Age science fiction, especially Arthur C. Clarke, but it is a refinement of it in a completely different direction than those taken by English speaking authors. It isn’t just because it’s the product of a wholly different culture and history (though that helps), it’s that it possesses a profound sense of cynicism and pessimism regarding the universe that is wholly alien to the mentality of Golden Age science fiction, and yet somehow makes the book refreshing and new, and massively magnifies the importance of hope and optimism.

Minor spoilers ahead: