Imagine if we found a way of letting the rest of the galaxy know we were there? Imagine it was a mistake, that it happened at a period of time in which your culture was undergoing violent upheaval. Imagine if you hated everything about the world in which you were forced to endure.
This is the premise of Cixin Liu’s opening book in the Three Body Problem trilogy.
It’s fascinating to see a story of this type told from a non-western point of view. It’s also fascinating to see it develop according to good science as well as exploring the issues of such a situation without resorting to cheap gimmicks or requiring the characters to have melodramatic awakenings or background ‘issues’. There’s no sense of the maverick detective with personal issues cliche here.
It’s a tremendous book and I’d heartily recommend it – it’s real companion is the recent movie – Arrival – which talks through some of the same issues but from a completely different starting point.
In terms of downsides, there is a reasonable amount of plot discussion and sometimes a little more internal monologue could have been used to help the reader understand what was going on but these are small quibbles.