Good science fiction is thought-provoking. It raises questions of morality, social cohesion and cooperation, or of the impact of life-altering technologies or drugs. Liu’s The Three Body Problem is good science fiction.
Set in China, the story of The Three Body Problem presents an unfamiliar perspective. Part of it takes place shortly after the Great Leap Forward, during the Cultural Revolution – I wonder how accurate Liu’s narrative of this period is. The translator felt it necessary to add explanatory footnotes to aid the western reader in this alien context. On the other hand, the novel addresses a classic question in science fiction: First contact and the effect of having proof for extraterrestrial intelligent life and advanced technology.
Liu paints a bleak picture. A few Individuals driven by their personal fate and disillusionment may be able to wreak havoc on a global scale. Relinquishing all hope for the betterment of human society they rather opt for its annihilation, inviting an alien force that seeks to escape their own fate of doom.
Now, a still fragmented human society faces the threat of an alien invasion in the far future. And the novel ends.