It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race. This thought determined the entire direction of Ye’s life.
The Three-Body Problem has been on my TBR list for years. It was on many best of lists when published in English and my husband loved it. Unfortunately, the first time I tried to start it I took it to the beach. Since The Three-Body Problem starts during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, it did not make a good beach read. It has sat on the shelf since until ardaigle mentioned it was on her TBR and offered to be book reading buddies. Reading this immediately on the heels of Last Night at the Telegraph Club made for an interesting dichotomy. LNatTC shows the effects of the Chinese Revolution on those living in the states and fearful of going back to China. TTBP presents some of the horrors in China during that period. Names in this review are presented the traditional way of last name first and characters are identified by their last name.
Ye Wenjie is an astrophysicist who watches her father, also a physicist and professor at University, be murdered by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution purges of intellectuals. Ye is sent off to labor in a forestry program far from the cities. Even in that remote wilderness she gets tangled in politics. What at first seems to be her doom ends up saving Ye, in a way. Though “saving” is a bit much considering in order to live she must spend the rest of her life on a secretive military base. Fast forward several decades and nanomaterial researcher Wang Miao has been recruited by the military to investigate the strange occurrence of physicists committing suicide in the past few months. Along the way Wang discovers the Three Body VR sim game and it raises the question, does it connect to the deaths? Looking into the case causes Wang to question the very world around him.
Objectively this is a good book. The mystery is engaging and the ramifications of the actions of some characters are horrifying but almost understandable. As stated in the title of this review, it is the most unique ‘First Contact’ story I’ve read and that alone made it quite interesting. However, I often got lost in the weeds of the science, going along with the flow of the story without fully understanding. This was particularly true at the end of the book. A year or two ago, I read Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves which is also very science heavy but Stephenson was able to explain it in a way that I was able to understand better than how Cixin Liu presents the science. Since this is a translated work, it is possible some of that was lost in translation. I appreciate having read the book and now understand the rave reviews. However, it is doubtful I’ll continue the series any time in the near future, despite my husband saying the second book is better.
Note: Ponyo trapped me to ensure that I kept reading.