Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

"The Three-body problem" by Liu Cixin (Head of Zeus Ltd, 2016)

I suspect that only SF fans will like this. It won the Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Awards for Best Novel. At the sentence level it's rather inelegant, with an initial interest in the prettiness of the females. Overall it's fine, with several interesting Big Science ideas (shades of Stapleton and A.C. Clarke), though it took me a while to discern the novel's shape. It has footnotes to help with the Chinese allusions. From about a third of the way through I was keen to complete the book. I won't spoil things by telling you the plot.

Other reviews

  • Jason Heller (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.)
  • Gary K. Wolfe (it’s for the most part a compelling piece of work, brilliantly translated by Ken Liu, whose astonishing con­trol of tone lets us experience the novel as a speculative thriller without losing the sense of Chinese language and culture that makes it uniquely different from the familiar rhythms of Western SF.)
  • Edward j Rathke (The Three-Body Problem is a novel of ideas, much like Asimov’s novels. There are characters, and I enjoyed them, but many of them are more shells and shades than fully developed people.)

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