The Three-Body Problem • 2014 • SF novel by Liu Cixin

★★★

Nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Prometheus Award 2014.

This is the first part of a trilogy, ending in a cliff-hanger.
It begins with the political excesses of Chinese cultural revolution in 1967 and tells the background story of one of the protagonists, astrophysicist Ye Wenjie. We are exposed to a bit of quantum mechanics and SETI but jump over a couple of decades to current time, where a nanoscientist, Wang Miao, seeks out the now older Wenjie. He encountered some inexplainable strange occurences, or “wonders”.
At the same time, Wang enters a virtual reality game called “Three Body” – highly intellectual and puzzling.

We puzzle over hard science like computer theory, quantum and classical mechanics, but also biology and sociology. It dives a bit too deep into the material with large, pedantic, boring info-dumps, reading like a more prosaic version of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.
Some ideas don’t work too well – I found the game and how people are motivated and participated not very convincing showing a somewhat inexperienced understanding of gaming society by the author.

In fact, it is an over-long exposition to the trilogy with Ye Wenjie as the only strong character.
It is different, because of the Chinese background instead of the usual Anglo-American. It contains several intellectually interesting ideas.

But it is not an awesome fun read.

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