If you like the idea that we’re not alone in the universe, learning about different cultures, and long reads, I highly recommend you read The Three Body Problem.
I won’t say much about plot of The Three Body Problem because it’s too easy to give away. But I will say that I greatly enjoyed both the story itself and the experience of reading an excellent translation of a captivating sci-fi epic.
I found The Three Body Problem to be an incredibly imaginative novel, into which Liu Cixin expertly wove his deep curiosity—almost reverence—for science. I often find stories that go into minute descriptions about imagined technologies or scientific concepts tiresome, so it was a pleasant surprise to enjoy those elements of this novel. Liu writes about fantastical technical details in a way that I found compelling and relatable.
The pace of The Three Body Problem was measured, taking its time leading you to the clues that eventually come together in a striking reveal. It was more unfamiliar than slow. It reminded me of hiking Mt. Kenya, which involved three days of long walks through quiet meadows, before a short, grueling ascent to the summit.
This thought tickled the back of my mind the whole time I was reading this story, so the postscript from translator Ken Liu—who is an award-winning science fiction writer himself—really resonated with me. He wrote:
“The best translations into English do not, in fact, read as if they were originally written in English. The English words are arranged in such a way that the reader sees a glimpse of another culture’s patterns of thinking, hears an echo of another language’s rhythms and cadences, and feels a tremor of another people’s gestures and movements.”
This story, and its English translation, was full of beautiful echoes and captivating tremors. It was a deeply creative and thought-provoking read, and I highly recommend it.