Finally managed to finish The Three-Body Problem this week, despite the recent challenges. It's a very... interesting novel at the very least. CHaracterization isn't super strong, it's one of those novels where the focus is on the world building and how it affects society and humanity at large. It's nice to have a decent sci-fi story that isn't so American centric though.
The story revolves around two main characters: Ye Wenjie, a Cultural Revolution-era astrophysicist who was able to secretly establish contact with an extreterrestrial civilization called Trisolaris, and Wang Miao, a modern day applied physicist, working in nanotech, who is drawn into the workings of a mysterious group that is working to promote an invasion by the extraterrestrial species.
Wang discovers the history of the Trisolarian civilization by infiltrating the group (at the behest of a global military alliance investigating the conspiracy) and participating in a VR game that traces the nature and history of their world: a planet trapped in a three-star system that results in unpredictable ages that vary between stable and unhospitable chaotic ages.
The story is told in kind of a nonchronological order, jumping between Ye Wenjie's era and Wang's era, I think partly to make it easier for modern-day Western readers unfamiliar with Chinese history. A certain level of science background might make the book easier to appreciate as well.
I find the earlier chapters much more engrossing than the later ones, especially the ones where Wang first encounters phenomenon that cannot easily be explained by modern science. I was a bit disappointed however that most of these "Miracles" are later explained away by a deus-ex machina like advanced technology used by the Trisolarians to disrupt Earth science.
that most of these "Miracles" are later explained away by a deus-ex machina like advanced technology used by the Trisolarians to disrupt Earth science.
The novel's conclusion isn't particularly strong; though the major conflict on Earth is resolved, there is no great character conflict involved, and the imminent threat of alien invasion still exists, a problem kicked down the road to be handled by future generations. I think the "cliffhanger" kind of works - I could see myself either stopping with this story at this point (a meditation upon what humanity would do in the face of a threat a few hundread years out; I mean, we can't even get our act together vs climate change) or continuing to the next two books to see what happens. I'll see how I feel about it after a while.