Some people refer to this series as the Chinese Star Wars. Some others see it as a unique piece of originality based on a creative story with incredible elements. As you go through it, you will find it difficult to compare with other books because there is nothing like it. The Three-Body Problem book is the first book in the series with the first name and the first chapter of an adventure that will easily hook you in. A Netflix series will be also available based on the book in the near future.

Science fiction is not something new in China. In fact, this genre is quite popular, but it has gained fantasy elements over the past years. Most stories are quite cheesy and less likely to impress – hence the lack of translations for the western audience. Cixin Liu has changed everything though – this is good science fiction and will most likely change the perception over this genre.

More and more westerners turn towards oriental books. Translations are quite common these days and bring in something new – rather than the old classic adventures. But on the other hand, the western market is already flooded with different native titles, so it takes plenty of work to dig through. The Three-Body Problem book has done it – and in a spectacular manner.

This is not all about the story and the complexity, but also about the takeaways that can underline a high-quality story.

Takeaway #1: What happens when the humankind meets extraterrestrial life

It is perfectly normal, and everyone has had such questions before. You see NASA sending robots to Mars or you read about scientists discovering new solar systems. Is there life anywhere there? What if life has evolved on other planets just like on Earth? There are all kinds of signals being sent out, as well as certain signals that humans still cannot explain.

What will happen when people finally meet aliens? Sure, there are all kinds of books on different theories. You might have seen some movies as well. But at the end of the day, no one really knows. Cixin Liu comes with a different theory. Slightly inspired from authors like Arthur C. Clarke, the Three-Body Problem book brings in a new perspective.

It could be a peaceful interaction or it could be war – no one can really tell. People may end up running into an underdeveloped civilization or perhaps a super advanced one. There will be things that the humankind will not be able to understand – just like this book is often mysterious and difficult to comprehend.

One thing is for sure though – chances are such things will happen in the future and Cixin Liu’s ideas might actually become reality.

Takeaway #2: Political issues that affect regular people’s lives

The action starts in 1967 and it is inspired from China’s harsh past and realities. Basically, the Cultural Revolution has managed to take the country over. People are turning communist. No one knows how many were killed during this revolution, but it was violent and the estimates are incredibly high. At this point, the story is focused on a few characters who are randomly pulled into the conflict.

Ye Wenjie was a young physicist at that time. One day, the aggressive Red Guards show up and accuse her father of teaching people the wrong things. They beat him to death and sadly enough, she has to watch the whole scene. She is left traumatized, especially as there is nothing she could do. She knew that a wrong move could get her killed as well and she ends up in remote re-education.

At a first glance, Ye Wenjie is just a regular girl with dreams and aspirations. When politics kick in, various decisions may seem irrelevant at first. They look like they are less likely to affect regular people right away. In some cases, they do. This case shows how simple scientific beliefs can lead to political oppression.

Takeaway #3: Certain things are taken for granted

There are no doubts about it that people take many things for granted. Apart from the things you need on a daily basis – such as air or perhaps water, there are things you learn about in school. Physics could bring in some scientific facts that no one will bother to deny. No one will challenge them because they are proven to be real.

It makes no difference what comes to your mind. It could be general relativity or perhaps the gravitation. Such things are proven to be real and exist and they are taken for granted. You are taught that they are what they are. But then, what if you could contest all these? What if nothing is what it seems to be? The Three-Body Problem book kicks in to challenge these beliefs a little.

All these theories are difficult to challenge because they are everywhere around you. In fact, it is quite difficult to be able to see things differently. Cixin Liu has changed this perception by challenging basic laws of physics. When the interaction between humans and aliens becomes reality, everything is distorted, and things stop making sense.

At times, it might be a bit difficult to understand every aspect of the book, but let your mind go free and you will realize that many things can actually be different, even if you are taught to take them for granted.

Takeaway #4: Different dimensions can exist

Different dimensions are often associated with science fiction – perfectly fine, as The Three-Body Problem book is supposed to be a science fiction novel. However, as one of the characters ends up stuck in a video game, things suddenly stop making sense. Whether it comes to your everyday activities or things you learn in school, you are only aware of a few dimensions.

How many dimensions are out there? The human mind understands these dimensions based on what people see and feel. Some other dimensions could be so difficult to explain that the brain may not be able to perceive them. Cixin Liu’s mind might have gone a bit too far with things that do not always make sense, but it is all part of the challenge.

Wang Miao is a nanotech engineer. Somehow, he ended up in some sort of a virtual reality. The game is known as Three Body. It has gained so much popularity locally that it is about to become a cult – plus, it hides some secrets that could destroy everyone involved with it. It sounds like science fiction, but this virtual reality or dimension will most likely challenge your perceptions a little.

Takeaway #5: People are not naturally used to a different culture

No matter where you were born or grew up, you did it in a culture. It was a society that followed some rules – many of them unwritten. You went to school at a certain age, ate things that were common in the area and did things based on what your parents taught you to do. Discovering a different culture might bring in things that will not necessarily make sense.

The Three-Body Problem book brings in some fascinating action that starts in China. While extraterrestrial life is also involved, most of the action is in China. The book makes a bit more sense to someone who is used to the Chinese culture and understands the differences between the eastern culture and the western one.

Someone who has never interacted with this culture will discover things that do not always make sense. Not being used to a different culture is perfectly fine and natural. In fact, this might be one of the reasons wherefore more and more westerners turn to eastern books and movies. It is a new approach that they are not used to, so they find it fascinating and appealing.

Takeaway #6: There will always be conspiracies around the military

Whenever there is something people cannot understand, they often blame it on their government. The situation is even more common in countries whose governments have a history of hiding things. For example, a few unusual lights spotted in the USA will bring in the theory of military tests. The same rule applies in Russia, as well as China.

When sent to re-educate, Je Wenjie ends up doing forced labor in a camp for people who disagreed with the system. The camp was close to a secret military installation where the government tried to develop new technologies – the Red Coast Base. With time, Ye Wenjie ended up working in this base as a technician.

As she started discovering the military installation, she realized that something is wrong there. She could not figure out what was going on. There were no doubts about it – the government was researching new weapons, but on the same note, she found sophisticated machinery that also tried to grab signals from space. It was definitely an attempt to establish contact with an alien civilization.

Such things are not all about science fiction, but actual reality. Many conspiracy theories have actually been proven to be real and involved secret tests performed by the government.


Bottom line, The Three-Body Problem book brings in a new perspective on what the human contact with extraterrestrial civilizations would be like. Cixin Liu plays with the story and takes it to some unimaginable points. The series builds a bridge between eastern and western science fiction and tops a profound story that no one could resist. The above mentioned takeaways have a deep sense of reality, despite the mental challenges associated with some of them.

Featured on Joelbooks