Chinese Three-Novel Problem

I just finished one of my Christmas gifts, the Chinese sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem, by Liu Cixin and translated by Ken Liu. It’s basically a “first  contact” thriller, with an enemy alien invasion looming, a secret society helping the invaders, and the governments of the world secretly planning together for war against both the aliens and the secret society, all set against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath.

The novel suffers from both stilted dialogue and “stilted” plot turns; some of these may be the effects of translation, or even just its essential Chinese-ness, but it’s also true that the author and translator are both in the “hard sci-fi” camp, which is not known for its Literature-With-A-Capital-L virtues. Anyway, the ideas are big and the action moves at a page-turning pace — it’s definitely a good read.

My biggest problem with this book is that it’s the first of a trilogy, and now I have to read the others to find out how it all ends.


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