The below is my flash review of the science fiction novel, The Three Body Problem by Chinese author Cixin Liu. Enjoy!
The story is rather slow to get going, and as this is the first of a three book trilogy, it suffers from incomplete-itus, but the narrative flows well and is mostly comprehensible. Heavy science rhetoric enters a touch towards the end, but the main leads are well fleshed out, and the beginning section, which is set in the 1960s (and at the height of Chairman Mao’s regime) is fascinating to read. The central hook of alien invaders arriving in 400 years time is intriguing – and how the narrative winds slowly towards that is impresive.
No one character is particularly memorable, aside from the central Wallfacer (and he is not introduced until towards the second half of the book). But the characters and their motivations are suitable intelligent and opaque. Some give up, some fight, others murder and love. All aspects of humanity – both good and horrifyingly bad – are covered. And that is to the book’s advantage.
For science fiction, it swims somewhere between heavy and medium. When the science theory comes in, it is original and well administered, but the data dump does tend to jar the reader from the story. There are footnotes, which are interesting to read, but again thrust the reader from the narrative flow. Despite this, the prose and style is easy on the mind and the novel as a whole drifts at a good pace. Also, some of the theoritical concepts are awesome and written in layman’s terms so we can all wonder and visualise.
I would recommend this novel to those who like sci-fi and also to those with an interest in an Eastern culture and/or bizarre near future tech and ideas. It may still be too heavy going for some, but I finished the book wanting to read the second – to see where the story and slowly burgeoning characters lead to.