Enjoy this title right now, plus millions more, with a free trial

Only $9.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem

Written by Cixin Liu

Narrated by Luke Daniels


The Three-Body Problem

Written by Cixin Liu

Narrated by Luke Daniels

ratings:
4.5/5 (426 ratings)
Length:
13 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 11, 2014
ISBN:
9781427251992
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience the Hugo Award-winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

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.

A Macmillan Audio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Nov 11, 2014
ISBN:
9781427251992
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

About the author

CIXIN LIU is the most prolific and popular science fiction writer in the People’s Republic of China. Liu is an eight-time winner of the Galaxy Award (the Chinese Hugo) and a winner of the Chinese Nebula Award. Prior to becoming a writer, he worked as an engineer in a power plant. His novels include The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death's End.


Related to The Three-Body Problem

Related Audiobooks

Related Articles


Reviews

What people think about The Three-Body Problem

4.4
426 ratings / 126 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Conspiracy theory book interlinked with China history in the last 50 years. Fresh style/topic when compared with Anglo-Saxon science-fiction writers. Some of the characters seem more generic/modern (scientist, policeman that gets job done but might have bad connections), while others have a stronger Chinese specific (person prosecuted by the cultural revolution). Plot unravels at uneven paces, which is very good managed up to the final chapters of the book where it feels a bit rushes/unclear. Main plot is related to various humans becoming so disillusioned by human race that they end up in a plot that helps a planned alien invasion. The alien civilization inhabits a three star system which makes it very hard to survive so they need another system. Most of the actions are in the planning/development stage with few decisive actions. The book does not finish with a clear ending, seeming that the aliens managed to reach their objective, but humans obtaining minor victories as well
  • (4/5)
    Mind-bending exploration of a future world and its global anxiety and destruction at the hands or minds of aliens. Made even more so by the Chinese cultural norms and possibly also the language hiccups due to the translation. The aliens inhabit a planet with 3 suns and alternate between unpredictable periods of normalcy and destruction when the planet moves to close to one of the sons. Apparently 3 body systems are not possible to predict. They communicate through video games, religious cults, mental manipulation. Physicists must be destroyed, because they might figure out how to stop them from coming to earth to occupy our planet, after they get rid of us. Worth it, but scary and weird to follow part due to the bizarre pacing.
  • (4/5)
    The Best Novel category is going to be a tough decision this year.

    I loved The Goblin Emperor I'm currently enjoying the Ancillary Sword audiobook. And now I've just finished this amazing novel by Cixin Liu.

    The story opens in China during the Cultural Revolution, with the brutal deaths, first, of a teenage radical in a conflict between different factions of the People's Liberation Army, and next, of "counterrevolutionary" university professor, while his older daughter watches, and his wife is forced to testify against him.

    The daughter, Ye Wenjie, survives the Cultural Revolution, not unscathed, but she lands a somewhat precarious position on a secret project where her work as an astrophysicist is valuable. It's not an easy time for her, but she's doing useful work. We don't find out till later just how secret the work of the Red Coast Base is.

    Another thread in this story follows Wang Miao, who avoided theoretical physics in favor of the less ideologically risky applied physics, and in the early 2000s has made major breakthroughs in nanomaterials.

    The thread that has gotten the most discussion is that concerning the online game that Wang Miao and others are drawn into, Three Body, a game that involves a planet subjected to unpredictable extremes of heat, cold, and length of days due to the fact that it exists in a three-star system. The game isn't just a game or a distraction for our characters; it turns out to be a vital thread in what's going on, part of a problem created by the secret project at Red Coast Base and bad decisions made by damaged survivors of the Cultural Revolution.

    I've seen comments about characterization being thin and the game taking up too much space in the story. I understand them, but don't agree. As in other hard sf novels, Liu is building an alien society for us, at least for the western reader, and I think it's well done. The reader may have to work a bit harder at getting the characters, but only because the cultural background and references--ghe world building--are also requiring some mental work. The game itself turns out to contain vital information, and I think the balance among the different elements is overall good.

    I'm looking forward to the next volume of the trilogy.

    Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Ein wirklich interessanter Science-Fiction Roman!Man merkt, das er von einem Naturwissenschaftler geschrieben wurde, er wirkt korrekt. Die Idee, die im letzten Drittel dann deutlich wird (ich will jetzt nicht spoilern), ist wirklich interessant und auch, was der Autor im Nachwort schreibt, finde ich bedenkenswert.
  • (4/5)
    This is a surprisingly personal first contact story that also serves to remind us of things that happened in China during the Cultural Revolution...[in progress]
  • (4/5)
    Wow, this was deep. Astro-physics, impossible scientific scenarios with no solutions, deep-space probes the size of photons, and science fiction set in and around China's Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s through the modern era.

    This is deep-thought science fiction, and probably not for everybody. I listened to this one, and I'm glad I did; I don't think I would have finished this in print/ebook format.

    The plot is sometimes slow-going, with the physics-related explanations often slowing down the narrative dramatically, with whole chapters dedicated to explaining various happenings in the real world, in virtual space, and on another planet. The world-building is simply fantastic, though, and it was actually quite fun (and challenging) to try to picture a planet with three suns in chaos with each other.

    I'll be listening to the next one soon, but I need to give my mind a break!
  • (2/5)
    I read this for my bookclub, otherwise I would have stopped by one-third the way through. I love science fiction and rarely want to throw down a book in frustration, but this one was so tedious it fit the bill!Interesting premise that was never really developed because there was way too much physics. Characters were unlikable and the plot was difficult to follow. And then at the end . . . there really wasn't one! This is book one in a trilogy. Ugh. No thanks.
  • (4/5)
    Definitely a very interesting premise. I love the historical background and the pacing of the book. The author definitely gets a little deep with some of the physics but I really enjoyed those parts. Physics was a character within the story, and it worked really well. I have the second book ready to continue on with the trilogy.
  • (4/5)
    No characters to speak of, and no real plot either, but there's still a lot here to enjoy. I used to think VR was played out and pretty much dead, but now I'm not so sure. The 3-Body virtual world turned the whole device on its head and made it fresh, humorous, creepy, and mysterious - a massive departure from other depictions of VR.The SF treatment of the Cultural Revolution was the other mind-blowing aspect of the book. The ideological implications of physics theories, the taboo of aiming a laser at the sun - these sorts of details really enlivened the book and gave it that unsettling Philip K. Dick feeling of revisionist history and secrets hidden in quotidian life.There are scenes of such imaginative excitement that I sometimes felt like I was reading the best SF of all time. But unfortunately the author is inconsistent and mishandled a few critical aspects of the story. The most egregious mistake is the moralizing bullshit, in particular the environmentalist angle that's so sloppily tacked it's almost unbelievable. The author's afterward also contains some high-horse nonsense that similarly off-putting.
  • (3/5)
    This was a tough one for me... I kept losing the narrative. It may have had to do with the book being an e-book, because when I switched to a hardback things went more smoothly. Also, when I read when I was tired, the page would show a character's name as "Sha", but my brain autocorrected to "She", and I kept wondering who "she" was and when a female entered the scene. Thank you Tor, for the ebook, and javaczuk (via Harriet) for the hard copy.
  • (4/5)
    While I try to read all the Hugo-winning novels eventually my basic response to this book is that if the efforts to sabotage the normal course of Hugo voting in 2015 hadn't occurred this book wouldn't have won, as while it has its virtues there were better books that would have been on the final ballot; particularly Robert Bennett's "City of Stairs" (never mind Jeff VanderMeer's Nebula-winning "Annihilation"). The irony is that while the "Sad/Rabid Puppy" bloc had an issue with novels that were overtly polemical (unless they were of their preferred polemical stripe), whatever else you want to say about this novel is that it's quite polemical, Liu, as much as anything else, having written a rebuttal to Carl Sagan's "Contact" (Liu being much more skeptical of the likely turn of events in the case of first contact for Humanity). On the other hand, Liu also seems to have an issue with a certain East Asian mentality where much is excused on the basis of "sincerity," as his traumatized female protagonist undertakes dubious actions out of the sincere belief that the book's aliens have to be superior to humans. The more I think about it the more this work reminds me of something that might have been written by Kurt Vonnegut. As for myself I found the best writing in this book to be the initial section depicting a Red Guards' "reeducation" session turned ugly; nothing else I read quite measured up to it.
  • (5/5)
    This left me anxious to pick up the next book in the series. Definitely one of the best I've read this year, period, and one of the best my book club has selected, ever. Sadly, I'll miss discussion for it, but I think it raises issues that would generate good discussion.
  • (4/5)
    An engineer is asked by police to infiltrate a secret group involved in a mysterious game called Three Body as a result of a number of apparent suicides by some players. The game simulates life on a planet with three suns. Civilisation is disrupted on the planet many times as a result of the unpredictable motion of the suns. The players try to predict the motion of the suns without success. The game is an analogue for life on a real planet with three suns. One minor point, given that there are 3 suns and a planet, this is actually a case of a 4 body problem. But the problem is no less intractable. Numerical analysis is used to solve similar problems in astrophysics. The story develops into a struggle between different factions of those following the aliens. The police and military are also trying to unravel the deaths and the motives of those playing the game. The ending is a bit of a let-down as it sets the story up for the sequels. I give this story 3.5 stars out of 5.Hints at the end of Part 2 suggest that the Trisolaran system is actually the Alpha Centauri system. In 2016, an Earth-sized exoplanet was discovered in the habitable zone around Alpha Centauri C, also known as Proxima Centauri.
  • (4/5)
    Interesting but rather outlandish concepts. The characters had the depth of cardboard cutouts, except for the main character, who had all the depth of a particle folded into one dimension.
  • (2/5)
    This book is so disjointed, it's ridiculous. I want to rearrange chapters, maybe alternate some of the alien chapters with the earth chapters. Something. Going through two thirds of the book from the Earth perspective, then the last third with the alien perspective ... no. UGH! How did this book win awards? Concept?Much of the book deals with Physics. Theoretical Physics. Description of the actual theory, etc. DRY! It's what the entire book is going to be about. There was too much a feel of a physics textbook than a novel to this book. I'd edit out about half the science jargon, maybe make this a novella.The book lacks things that would draw people in. The science based people are so jargon rich, it's hard to feel sympathy for them. Very little action, from a Western idea, and lots of background or science description. It took almost a third of a book to find out why we had the beginning character and connect to the primary protagonist.There were times that I thought the in-book game seemed like the more interesting storyline than most of the rest. The more I think about it, the more it feels like the author tried to take the popular concepts of popular books and merge them into one book. There is a stretch of reading off redacted documents aka World War Z. There is a game of survival like Hunger Games. There is the whole mystery to solve thing. There's the aliens that never appear. I'm baffled and lost how this book got such buzz to it. Not that good a book. Maybe it's because it's a translation and its home country would absorb this type thing. Just not my type book.
  • (5/5)
    Brilliant and suspenseful sci fi that totally deserved the Hugo. Set in 2008 and the cultural revolution, it traces the story of Chinese scientists in a first encounter tale with an alien race. Informed by such texts as Rachel Carsons silent spring, it is thoughtful and inventive and un putdownable. I read it in English first and then Chinese. Note that the English translation shuffles the text around quite a lot, opening with the cultural revolution scenes while the Chinese began in 2008, which I suspect was for marketing reasons in the English language market (CR settings sell in English language markets) but it didn't detract too much from the story.
  • (4/5)
    Interesting approach to the first contact novel.
  • (4/5)
    This had at least two magnificent, profusely inventive parts--the "Three-Body Problem" video game where the main dude is introduced to a civilization defined by its unpredictable orbit in relation to three suns (referencing the physics problem in the title, where it's impossible to calculate the gravitational effects on each other of more than two bodies because of how they change), that is destroyed and painstakingly builds itself up again and again, and the part where said civilization turns out to be a real alien civilization coming to Earth to get us, and the crazy way they do it (it involves folding eleven-dimensional protons down into three dimensions after teaching them to feed our science false results). If that was all it had it wouldn't warrant four stars but the plateaux in between are decent too--you get a Chinese widescreen fiction writer's sense of what the man-of-science-in-a-land-of-miracles and insolent-maverick-cop and damaged-but-sympathetic-but-ultimately-monstrous-zealot (in this case, damaged by the Cultural Revolution, and I appreciated what a sense I got of how the CR must have shaped the outlooks of people in today's China, paving the way for Deng and what came after with opening because no more firebrands!) are like, and everyone has that really sincere way of speaking--like what we do with irony they do with insults somehow, I don't know, like not to be orientalist here but a face thing? "Ha ha ha! You are a fool!" and then the other guy seethes but can't do anything about it because he is not the man of the hour and the guy calling him a fool is. I can't quite get my finger on it but I enjoyed it.
  • (3/5)
    This was a difficult and arduous read for me. I'm not yet sure if I understood any of it, but there was a lot of detailed technical stuff I could have done without. The characters were rather flat and there was at the same time not that much and too much going on. I had super high expectations but this book did not live up to them. I don't know what to think. I'll probably read the next one (although it won't be too soon) and be even more baffled.
  • (4/5)
    People are enamored by Cixin Liu's writing...he's very good and let's just leave it there.
    Too many vignettes too many characters though in the end...works. Worth a read. j

  • (5/5)
    This is a fantastic story, so well written it’s believable. The actual use of scientific research is unparalleled in my opinion. This is one of the best pieces of science fiction literature ever written. Listen for yourself, and please tell me different so I can listen to that too:-)
  • (5/5)
    Simply exquisite. The characters are really fleshed out, didn't understand the science but never felt stupid. An excellent translation and narration.
  • (5/5)
    Amazing concepts making for a fully fresh sci-fi tale! Wow!
  • (4/5)
    This is definitely for hard sci fi lovers. But the plot was intriguing enough to keep me going.
  • (5/5)
    This was hands down one of the best books I’ve listened too, and I recommend it to any of my friends who like hard science fiction. It’s a very rich and interesting story, and I absolutely suggest reading the next two sequels as well; the payoff is great.
  • (5/5)
    As someone who does not often delve into sci-fi, I am blown away by this book. It has true literary merit- Liu’s storytelling, character development, and world-building are all top-notch, and I was often moved to tears by his artful descriptions of both the grandness of the universe and the minutest details of the human heart. Would recommend to basically anyone. Also spot-on to anxieties of our time regarding the future of our planet and the human race.
  • (1/5)
    I found this book uneven and frustrating. As if the author got half-way through and realized he had too much information to convey, so he changed from telling a story from the characters’ point of view to just spilling out a lot of information. The premise was interesting but the resolution very unsatisfying. I am not going to listen to any others in this series and listened to the last half at 1.5 speed to just get to the “resolution”.
  • (4/5)
    Great science fiction. You can see the influence of Carl Sagan, Asimov etc.
  • (4/5)
    A highly scientific journey to doomsday
    Wordy at times, and info dumps struggle reader’s ability to keep focused, but i will read the 2nd book to see if the plot overtakes the science
    Very cool ideas
  • (5/5)
    An unusual and refreshing view of the future of humanity from the perspective that isn’t based on the culture in the West. From the Cultural Revolution and it’s human failure to the potential end of the human race, because of it.
    Striking technologies and a new view of how aliens really could be, without even describing them. Brilliant.