The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu)
Published by Tor Books. Read by Luke Daniels. Produced by Macmillon Audio. I got this a long time ago because it won the Hugo in 2015, but I only just got around to it in my January 2018 listening binge.
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
Listen time: 13.5 hours, 1/24/2018 – 1/26/2018.
This book is a masterpiece of science fiction. You should read it, or listen to it. It deserved to win the Hugo Award in 2015. That’s all I really need to say about it.
It is obvious that this is a translation, but it did not detract from the experience at all for me. In fact, I found it even more interesting because of it. Sentences were not quite the way I might have expected them to sound, which gave them a mysterious and creative appeal.
The first half of the book is a little confusing, and I didn’t quite understand how everything fit together, but there is an underlying mystery that compelled me to keep listening. (Actually, if I’d read the blurb above, the first half might have made more sense… I had no idea there were going to be aliens in this book.)
I was surprised to find Luke Daniels reading this book. I didn’t know if he could pull off reading a serious book, but he did. At first it was a little jarring to hear obvious American-sounding characters in a Chinese book about Chinese people, but after a while, the story engrossed me so much that I didn’t care.
The book stands alone, but there are more in this series. I’m not sure I want or need to listen to any more though. What if the sequels aren’t as good? Might it cheapen the experience of the first book?
As an aspiring author, this is the kind of book that it is both inspiring and thoroughly depressing. My immediate reaction is something like, “Well that’s it then, I guess there’s no point in trying to sell a book now.” There is simply no way I could come up with a plot to compete with the level of detail and imagination in this one. Only after some time has passed will I be able to return to my silly pew-pew stories again with any confidence.
After I lamented my lack of confidence in writing, I noticed Yoast had this to say about this very post: