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The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth's Past #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  64,518 Ratings  ·  7,930 Reviews
The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

"Fans of hard SF will revel in this intricate and imaginative novel by one of China’s most celebrated genre writers. In 1967, physics professor Ye Zhetai is killed after he refuses to denoun
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published November 11th 2014 by Tor Books (first published 2007)
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Judy This is what I consider hard sci-fi at its very best. Definitely not space opera. Many of the characters are heavy duty theoretical physicists. Read…moreThis is what I consider hard sci-fi at its very best. Definitely not space opera. Many of the characters are heavy duty theoretical physicists. Read the NPR review, it's a good one:.
"This is hard SF, full of lovingly lengthy passages of technical exposition about everything from quantum mechanics to artificial intelligence. But Cixin Liu supports all of that braintwisting theory with empathetic characters and a strong action-thriller backbone. "(less)
ivan The summary is used not only on the book, but on Tor Books' page for it, the Amazon listing, and the Barnes & Noble listing.

Since so many people…more
The summary is used not only on the book, but on Tor Books' page for it, the Amazon listing, and the Barnes & Noble listing.

Since so many people have reported this, I truncated the original summary and replaced it with a summary/review from Publishers Weekly, which is both more detailed and (I believe) does not include the big spoiler.

Thoughts on this change welcome.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was ok

Badly Written and Ill Conceived Science Fiction with a Few Interesting Ideas

I'm not sure I read the same book as everyone else. This got lots of four and five star reviews here on Goodreads.

Plus, it's been nominated for both Hugo and Nebula awards.

As often happens, I'm not with the majority opinion here. I give it two stars.

I'm not sure if the problem was the translation, or the original text, or both. (Unfortunately I only have the audio for this, so I can't quote the text here).

But I found th
Rick Riordan
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Adult sci-fi. By Chinese author Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem takes a classic scenario -- contact with alien life -- and cranks up the sinister factor to maximum. The story begins during the Cultural Revolution when young Ye Wenjie watches her scientist father beaten to death by fervent revolutionaries. She is sent off for hard labor at a re-education camp, but by a strange twist of fate gets a chance to work at a top secret government project seeking out extraterrestrial life. Fast forward ...more
From the opening, I was struck by how much history I didn't know about China's Cultural Revolution. It might be obvious to anyone growing up in those parts, of course, but I was almost lost in that story long before I saw that there was anything sci-fi about the novel. This is a good thing. It speaks of good writing.

And then things changed. I became a frog in a pot. Small hints accumulate, surrounded by mathematical problems both fundamental and curious.

And then the MC's sanity is questioned. I
Brendon Schrodinger
Originally published in it's native Chinese in 2008, The Three-Body Problem has now been translated for English speakers to read and enjoy. It is the first volume in a hugely successful SF trilogy that has proved to be a popular seller in China.

No matter what our opinions are on the government of China, we all know that they have a history of controlling the media. It was not so long ago that I was reading articles on how even SF stories may not be published if they contain certain themes or SF
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard Sci-Fi fans
Recommended to Petrik by: Barack Obama
Shelves: owned-physical
3.5/5 Stars

The Three-Body Problem may be one of the most critically acclaimed Sci-Fi novels of our modern age, and in my opinion, it truly deserved the recognition for all the Sci-Fi ideas and narrative, but not for the characterization.

The Three-Body Problem, the first book in Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Cixin Liu, was actually something I never heard of despite its apparent popularity until I stumbled upon an interview with Barack Obama. He stated that this is one of his favorite no
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Three-Body Problem was the best SF novel that I’ve read so far. Admittedly, I did not read a lot of them. However, I can recognize when I encounter a special gem and this one definitely is unique in its world building. Moreover, it is very well written (and translated) which, unfortunately, it is not always the case with SF novels, especially with the classics.

The first chapters take place in the Chinese Cultural revolution and I thought to be a harrowing experience which perfectly introduc
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
A scientist is drawn into a conspiracy involving a computer game and an old research station and extra-terrestrial life.

Translated from the original Chinese. I have to admit I read this book mostly because the way it's being talked about made me really uncomfortable. There's the contingent who want to treat it as some sort of referendum on the Chinese science fiction landscape, or Chinese literature in general, as it was a wildly successful bestseller there. Yeah, okay, tell you what – go take a
Michael Finocchiaro
Fascinating piece of scifi by Chinese writer Cixin Liu. A surprising mix of nanoscience, string theory, and astrophysics and religion with the Cultural Revolution as a background, the story takes its protagonist Xiao Wang (the nanoscientist) into an adventure that will impact all of humanity. I liked Ye, the astrophysicist, and found Du Shi, the policeman, funny and well-drawn. As for the action and plot, it is easy to read although I got a little lost in the pure science aspects once or twice ( ...more
David Brin
Nov 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Three-Body Problem is part one of an award-winning trilogy by Liu Cixin — and is arguably the best Chinese science fiction novel ever translated into English. Liu uses the “three-body problem” of classical mechanics to ask some terrifying questions about human nature and what lies at the core of civilization.

The series explores the world of the Trisolarans, a race that is forced to adapt to life in a triple star system, on a planet whose gravity, heat, and orbit are in constant flux. Facing
Matthew Quann
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Sci-fi fans, Science Nerds, International Reads
I just spent a week with this hard science fiction, Hugo-award winning novel from Chinese author Cixin Liu and I have to admit: I'm impressed.

The Three-Body Problem had me putting off tasks to pick it up, stuck with me throughout my day, and was always a pleasure to read when I sat down with it. With that said, this isn’t a novel I’d easily recommend to everyone. This isn’t a review that offers a pan-recommendation along with its 5-star rating. Indeed, this review seeks to help an intrigued rea
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked this and there is no doubt that this is a science heavy, brilliantly produced and contemplated, highly original SF novel from a physics understanding Chinese author that was good enough to win a slew of awards including the Hugo.

But I like to watch Ridiculousness. I like Travis McGee. I like Mickey F****** Spillane. Beer and pizza and a bug zapper is quality entertainment.

“Conan – what is best in life?”

Three Body Problem did not have near enough axe welding barbarians or laser beams for
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
While this is obviously a masterpiece of hard sci-fi, that is also the reason I had a hard time connecting to it. While the science behind it all is complex and interesting, I found myself glazing over many a time and detaching from the story. The characters didn't feel real to me. Aside from that, this is a book I'd love to discuss with others because I wonder how much of this book was harder for me due to cultural and historical differences I wasn't even aware of while reading.

I think I have
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
One of my favorite ways of choosing a book by an unfamiliar author to read is by the buzz from sf blogs and discussion forums. Not any old buzz mind you, I don’t want to end up reading “50 Shades” or some equally unreadable blockbusters, I only take notice of the excitement among SF/F reading communities.

The Three-Body Problem was my SF Book Club’s book of the month (three months ago), it was recommended to me a friend here on GR and I have noticed numerous blogs, articles and online discussions
ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

The Three-Body Problem is a very successful trilogy in China and is now translated and published in English for the first time.

We're following two main characters over two different time periods. The first is Ye Wenjie who witnesses the death of her father, a scientist, during the cultural revolution in China during the 1960s.
A scientis herself she then gets the chance to participate in a high security project for the government, despite
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, fiction, scifi
三体 is a charming book. It's a novel of ideas, and it reminds me of the best of early 20th century science fiction. The mystery is intriguing, the VR sequences were imaginative and brilliant allegories, and the atavistic brutality of the Cultural Revolution was also well-done. Many of the characters are bland and stiff, but the background drowns all that out.

My Chinese is not quite at the point where I could read the original unaided due to all the technical terms, but I was able to struggle thr
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
How would humanity react if we found out we are not alone in the universe? Not only that, if we knew that alien civilization was on its way to earth to invade our planet? How would we react? How would YOU react?

The Three-Body Problem is a unique sci-fi novel set in China. It takes place over several time periods from the 1960's to present time. The story begins during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the late 1960's, and focuses on how the intellectual society was hard-pressed and assaulted.
Rachel the Book Harlot
2.5 stars

There has been an enormous amount of buzz and accolades surrounding Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem. It has been nominated for numerous awards, including a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel. Does it deserve all the hype? In some respects I can see why it has garnered so much praise. The science is fun, there are some interesting philosophical concepts, and the world-building is also interesting. However, that for me is where the praise ends. Where the book fails is in the basic fundamen
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Michael by: Apatt
Brilliant and thrilling, fun and mind expanding. If this is what Chinese science fiction writers bring to the table, feed my head! This won the Hugo Award for 2015, a fitting outcome to the controversies surrounding the controversies around their selection process.

This tale deals with the classic issue of first contact with an alien civilization. The plot evolves as a mystery that engages a nanotech scientist Wang. He starts to encounter strange phenomena such as a progression of numbers appear
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Three-Body Problem: Particle physics, the rise and fall of civilizations, and alien contact
Originally published atFantasy Literature
The Three-Body Problem was first published in China back in 2008 and translated into English in 2014. It got a lot of attention and was put on the Hugo Award ballot this year when another author pulled out. Cixin Liu’s book has a lot going on and requires your full attention. So after listening to the audiobook during a trip to the East Coast I realized I couldn
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"To effectively contain a civilization's development and disarm it across such a long span of time, there is only one way; kill its science."

The only thing that I knew about this book prior to reading it was that it revolves around alien invasion. So I prepared myself for spaceship, some cool weapons and amazing battle scenes. All in all I was looking for Guardians of the Galaxy in book form. But how wrong I was! I am so glad that all my hopes were dashed within first few chapters.

What started
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it

4.5 stars

This is the first book of a trilogy.

The story begins during the early years of China's 'Cultural Revolution.' Ye Wenjie, a young astrophysicist, sees her father - a physics professor - tortured and murdered by a group of young Red Guards. Like many educated citizens Ye Wenjie is labeled a 'counter-revolutionary' and sent to cut trees for the Construction Corps before being recruited to work at a secret facility called Red Coast Base.

At first Ye Wenjie has limited access to the base's
Althea Ann
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
NYT has an article today... finishing it after I finish the book!


From the author's postscript:
"I've always felt that the greatest and most beautiful stories in the history of humanity were not sung by wandering bards or written by playwrights and novelists, but told by science. ... Only, these wonderful stories are locked in cold equations that most do not know how to read."

Before becoming China's most popular science-fiction writer, Liu Cixin was an en
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I requested and received a copy of this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu is the first book from the biggest selling science fiction series in China, and thanks to this translation we finally get to see why.

This is a science fiction book that revolves around a concept in physics where three masses in space will never fall into a stable or predictable orbit around each other. It’s a problem that mathematicians and phys
I'm really waffling between whether to rate "did not like it" vs. "it was okay" -- I very, very rarely give out one stars, and it feels uncharitable because it was a book I wanted to like more than I did, and I want more diverse SF, but... no. I've consciously created a "not my cup of tea" shelf for this very book, however, because a lot of people seem to have liked it. Is this what hard SF is like? In which case, it reminds me of similar "I am completely unable to get interested in this" proble ...more
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Yes, the entire history of humankind has been fortunate. From the Stone Age till now, no real crisis has occurred. We’ve been very lucky. But if it’s all luck, then it has to end one day. Let me tell you: It’s ended. Prepare for the worst.

This book first appeared on my radar after receiving good reviews from quite a few people I know. It is originally written in Chinese, but is being translated to English. While a few of the metaphors were slightly awkward, I felt the translation held up pretty
Dec 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, china, fiction
In an afterword, Liu expresses his opinion that science fiction should not be used to make social commentary but should instead restrict itself to playing with ideas of science and technology. I was surprised to see that because Three Body had struck me (tentatively, since I know little about China) as an especially Chinese novel, with much to say about how societies should be organised. The portrait of an ‘authoritarian’ alien civilisation, where individuality is repressed in favour of homogeno ...more
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Three Body Problem made me curious about mathematics. This is no small feat.
I see math like Michael Bay sees movies that aren't based on a series of explosions – as something to be minimised in one’s life and if possible, completely avoided.

The titular three body problem in Cixin's book is a mind-melter of a physics conundrum where the movements of three gravitationally linked bodies are near impossible to predict. Cixin spins this problem into a fascinating scenario with an interstellar scope a
Alright. I read this wrong. It's all on me.
I've got my Cone of Shame and am headed to the Shame Corner right now.
It was nice being out for awhile but we all knew I couldn't stay out for long.

I'm not sure if something was lost in translation, if I'm just really not good at science, or if I am waaaaay too American, but whatever the case, I did not enjoy this.

Well, I did, but only through maybe the first half. Then it got tedious, then it got boring, then it got downright ridiculous, and then I sta
Riku Sayuj
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
The most intricate alien-invasion story I have read. It is erudite, it is playful and it makes you struggle with the big questions throughout. It has everything going for it, except, maybe, romance. Read it.
Ana’s Take:

During China’s Cultural Revolution, young astrophysicist Ye Wenjie watches her father be executed in the name of progress in front of her very eyes. This singular event will shape not only the rest of her life but also the future of mankind.

A few years after that she is co-opted to participate on a top secret governmental project that ostensibly studies satellites. The truth is something else (and out there).

Decades later, scientists start killing themselves.

In the near future, nanosc
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Remembrance of Earth's Past (3 books)
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“No, emptiness is not nothingness. Emptiness is a type of existence. You must use this existential emptiness to fill yourself.” 86 likes
“It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race.” 62 likes
More quotes…