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The Three Body Problem series by Cixin Liu
English | ePUB | 6.04 MB | Books: 3
Liu Cixin (born 1963) is a Chinese science fiction writer. He is a nine-time winner of the Galaxy Award (China’s most prestigious literary science fiction award) and winner of the Hugo Award. Liu’s work is considered hard science fiction. In English translations of his works, his name is given in the form Cixin Liu.
Liu Cixin was born on 23 June 1963 in Yangquan, Shanxi. Liu’s parents worked in a mine in Shanxi. Due to the violence of the Cultural Revolution he was sent to live in his ancestral home in Luoshan County, Henan.
Liu received technical training from North China University of Water Conservancy and Electric Power, graduating in 1988. He has worked as a computer engineer for a power plant located in Yangquan, Shanxi.
Liu is married and has a daughter. His wife and daughter almost never read his works.
During the Cultural Revolution in China, Ye Wenjie, an astrophysics alumna from Tsinghua University, witnesses her father being beaten to death by Red Guards from Tsinghua High School, the latter being supported by Ye’s mother and younger sister. Ye is officially branded a traitor and is forced to join a labor brigade in Inner Mongolia, where she befriends a government journalist who recently read Silent Spring, and who wishes to write a letter to the central government containing policy suggestions based on the book. When the central government responds, viewing the letter as an act of sedition, the journalist betrays Ye, who helped to transcribe the draft, and Ye is set to enter prison. However, she is salvaged at the last minute by Yang and Lei, two military physicists working under Red Shore (a Chinese initiative for alien communication similar to SETI) who require Ye’s skills in physics. Ye discovers the possibility of amplifying outgoing radio messages by bouncing them off the sun, and fires off a message. Eight years later, by now in a loveless marriage with Yang, Ye receives a message from a concerned alien pacifist, warning her not to respond or else the inhabitants of Trisolaris will locate and invade Earth. The alien proceeds to describe Trisolaris’s environmental conditions and societal history. Ye, who has come to despise humankind, responds anyway, inviting them to enter Earth to settle Earth’s problems. Ye murders her husband, Yang, and Lei to keep the alien message a secret.
Some time later, with the closing of the Cultural Revolution and Ye’s return to Tsinghua as a professor, Ye encounters Michael Evans, the son of the CEO of the world’s largest oil company, who is also a rabid environmentalist and a believer in the idea that all species are equal. Seeing that Evans is also direly angry at humanity, Ye confides to him the events at Red Shore. Evans uses his fortune to hire men and to purchase a giant ship, which he converts into a mobile colony and listening post. Upon receiving messages from Trisolaris, thereby validating Ye’s story, Evans announces the creation of the militant and semisecret Three Body Society as a fifth column for the Trisolaris, and appoints Ye as the leader. According to the messages, the Trisolaran invasion force has set sail but will not reach Earth for 450 years, as they are traveling at 1/100 of lightspeed. The society attracts numerous scientists, minor government officials, and other educated people who are disappointed with world affairs, going on to assemble a private army and even to build small nuclear weapons. However, Evan retains control of most resources, and starts to alter and withhold alien messages from Ye and others. Furthermore, the society splits into factions, with the Adventists, led by Evans, seeking complete destruction of humanity by the Trisolarans, and the Redemptionists, led by Shen, seeking to help the Trisolarans to find a computational solution to the three-body problem which plagues their home planet. A third, smaller faction, the Survivors, consisting mostly of Chinese people, intend to help the Trisolarans in exchange for their own descendants’ lives while the rest of humanity dies.
In the present day, Wang, a nanotechnology professor, is asked to work with Shi, a cunning detective, to investigate the mysterious deaths of several scientists. The two of them notice that the world’s governments are closely communicating with each other, and seem to be gearing up for war. Over the next few days, Wang experiences strange hallucinatory effects. Wang sees people playing a sophisticated virtual-reality video game called Three Body (which was created by the Saviors as a recruitment tool) and begins to play himself. The video game portrays a planet whose climate randomly flips between Orderly Era and Chaotic Era. During the Chaotic Era, the weather oscillates unpredictably between extreme cold and extreme heat, sometimes within minutes. Once in a while, the heat rises so much that a firestorm occurs and all civilization is reduced to ashes. The inhabitants (who are represented as having human bodies) struggle to develop their society, and to find means of achieving climate prediction. Unlike humans, they have evolved the special ability of draining themselves of water, turning into a roll of canvas, in order to lie dormant when the Chaotic Eras occur. Characters resembling Aristotle, Confucius, and others try and fail to model the climate, and are executed by the planet’s king. Wang wins acclaim by figuring out how the climate works: 1) the planet Trisolaris has three suns, 2) the suns have several atmospheres and when they are distant, lose their heat and appear in the sky as stars, 3) Orderly Eras occur when two suns are distant and Trisolaris orbits the third, 4) Chaotic Eras occur when Trisolaris is pulled by more than one sun, 5) firestorms happen when two or three suns are close, 6) if the three suns ever line up, Trisolaris will plunge into the nearest one and be consumed.
Wang is inducted into the Three Body Society, and informs Shi, leading to a battle between the PLA and the society’s soldiers, and the arrest of Ye. The PLA works with the Americans, led by Col Stanton, to ambush Evans’s ship, following Wang’s suggestion of cutting apart the ship and massacring the entire crew using nano-material blades, to stop them from burning their data. From the data, some new revelations emerge. For one, the aliens have extremely advanced nanotechnology which allows them to create eight-dimensional electronic circuits which, when viewed in three-dimensions, only occupy the size of a proton. For another, two of these smart-protons have been laboriously manufactured and sent to Earth, having the power of causing hallucinations, of spying on any corner of Earth and transmitting the gathered information faster-than-light to Trisolaris, and of disrupting all of Earth’s particle accelerators. The Trisolarans reason that, with particle physics being the bottleneck of science, the shutting down of the accelerators will paralyze Earth’s technological advancement for the next 400 or more years before the Trisolarans arrive. Ye, now in custody, is allowed to visit the old Red Shore base, and reflects upon her past choices, noting that humanity hereon will never be the same.
The books in suggested reading order: PREVIEW