The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When an SF book wins so many awards for best novel, it must be really good. That’s certainly what made me pick up Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem. And the first scene was really vivid: that body dangling on the fence!

I know very little about Chinese politics and the thought that here was a book – trumpeted as hard science fiction – that would also introduce me to an award-winning story set in China was really seductive.

But it’s not a great novel if you measure great novels by well-drawn characters engaged in an enthralling, imaginative story. That’s what I demand in a good read.

Most of the characters barely rise above the stereotypical. The plot meanders, lacks pace and slows down completely in repetitive representations of situations to draw out scientific points. The Three-Body video game: nobody in their right mind would play that, it’s just so dull. The action scenes involving the police: not so hot.

The book seems more invested in explaining scientific ideas (some interesting, some not) – and bending plot, characters and everything else to that aim – rather than having the understanding of scientific ideas fall naturally out of the story as a byproduct of great characters and situations.

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