The Three Body Problem (2008)

Cixin Liu (刘慈欣)

29 Sep 2020

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I was blown away by this book. The Three Body Problem (TBP) stands apart from recent books I have read. It’s utterly unique.

I’m of the strong opinion that Sci-fi fiction is legitimate literature, so I don’t tend to think about that sub-category much as a separate reading genre.

This book is outstanding to me because it creates an exciting and multi-layered narrative, set in both the past and near future, that is grounded strongly in science (or future science, anyway). It explores a very realistic possible chain of events when humans make contact with extra-terrestrial life.

Central to the story is the TBP known to physics of the same name. The solution to which must use numerical approaches (i.e. use of a converging model with seeded initial conditions), no closed-form purely-mathematical solution exists. Crazy!

The plot: An alien culture species in the Alpha Centauri (three) star system pick up an transmission from a Chinese radio base. Communication develops between the aliens and a group of extremist become allied to the aliens and want them to invade earth. The aliens wish to flee their chaotic three-sun solar system for the stable Earth-Sol system – which they do not wish to share with humanity.

Looking forward to reading the next two books in the series!

In the meantime, check out the animation I made of a numeric solution to the TBP in d3.js here.