The Three Body Problem
This was the first “modern” science fiction book I’ve ever read; most that I’ve read in the past were from an era ago. Surprisingly, however, Liu’s book doesn’t diverge much from core sci-fi ideals, and actually has a lot of interesting historical ties to the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The book started off really interesting, though a little confusing, with a bit of perspective on the Cultural Revolution and the tyranny against science in that era. A particular phrase stood out to me when I read it: the revolutionaries labeled science as “reactionary” and “elements of a capitalist world”, which was…kind of weird. No society has really rebelled against science (unless it was backed by religion) so this concept seemed a little weird. I think learning more about the actual Revolution might provide me a little more context into the actual situation.
It was a little hard to keep track of the characters (I kept getting confused which gender a character was due to their Chinese name), though I think they were interesting enough. Ye in particular had an interesting development, and I think the context at the beginning of the novel really helps define why she made the decisions that led to the events culminating at the end of the book.
However, the best part of the book by far was the description of the Trisolaris system and the V-body video game that Wang and the others played. I’d read an entire book of that; the world was fantastical and imaginative, and the elements of familiarity (such as the names of scientists or leaders) were interesting enough to grip my interest. I remember the part where Wang discovers the three-body dilemma of the system was pretty jaw-dropping. Also, it was interesting to see a civilization grow from providing religious descriptions of natural events all the way to understanding the current state of the universe and their place in it.
A few sci-fi inventions in particular that caught my eye: strings of nanomaterial that sliced the slip (and the people on it); proton unfolding by Trisolaris showing the “intelligence of the microcosmos”; the sun acting as an energy mirror to amplify signals from; the glasses that let a person literally see microwave radiation; the giant army that simulated a computer by using human logic gates (like 30 million of them); and the smart sophons (and their entangled counterparts) that caused mass scientist confusion by acting as decoy particles.