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The Three-Body Problem Audiobook

The Three-Body Problem

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Publisher's Summary

ThreeBody Problem is the first chance for English-speaking listeners to experience this multiple award-winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.

©2006 Liu Cixin (P)2014 Macmillan Audio

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  •  
    Josh Redmond, WA, United States 12-07-14
    Josh Redmond, WA, United States 12-07-14 Member Since 2016
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    "They create a computer using a 30 million man Army"
    Any additional comments?

    It's very difficult to describe this book. It's reminds me of the book "Spin" by Robert Wilson. It takes many strange science related events and use many characters smaller stories to relate these events, which in the end add up to something big and sinister going on. This book was apparently translated from Mandarin to English. I am 1/2 chinese, growing up up in America but my family spoke Hakka do I can't really say how well the translation is done. I will say that if I wasn't told it was translated, I would have assumed it was originally written in English by someone with a Mandarin background.

    While reading, I had to do a lot of searching on Wikipedia as large portions of the story occurs during the 1960 - 1980's. I personally did not know much about the cultural revolution, youth red guard, or the period known as the Great Leap Forward, and other things that occurred in China during that time but this book made me want to find out. I don't think you have too do a lot of research to enjoy the story, for example if you don't know what a "Struggle Session" is (I didnt), the story gives you enough information to infer what it is. Though if you do a little research I personally think you will enjoy it a lot more.

    The other portion of the book takes place in a modern to slightly futuristic setting. Say a state that the world could theoretically reach in the next 10 years. During this period, strange this are happening in the areas of science both in academia and industrial application. These strange things almost seem to have a supernatural force causing/guiding them from the background. To unravel the mystery a bunch of smaller stories of these strange occurrence are told from multiple characters and eventually they are slowly linked up to help you get a larger understanding.

    I wish I could describe it better but like I said the closest book I've read to this type of story telling is "Spin" by Robert Wilson. The book is a little slow so I'd suggest trying to get a least 2 hours in before you decide whether you like it or not.

    Luke Daniels does a great job narrating. I actually liked the fact that he didn't use a lot of Chinese accents when reading. As the bulk of the characters are Chinese and they are supposed to be speaking Mandarin, Mr. Daniels just chooses to to different voices with no accents. Rough throaty voice voice for the hard boiled detective, soft we'll spoken voice for the academic professor, nonchalant blasé voice for the lazy uncaring stay at home husband. It works well.

    Two personal things I really enjoyed about this book is if you were heavy into math or science in college, this will probably trigger some memories. I learned both assembly and machine code in college and as I stated in the reviews title, there is a scene where they create a human computer using a 30 million man Chinese army holding flags to represent or/x-or, and/n-and gates. I pretty much died laughing during that scene. Wish my college professor would have made us do that when I took the class. Would've made understanding logic gates and transistors so much easier. Also this is the first book I think I've read where China, the U.S., and U.K. are all on the same side working together. While the book does show the differences in ideological views between the east and west and doesn't try to hide past and modern animosity, it does portray a situation where the governments recognize their differences and are able to work past them due to a larger issue being at stake. It was really nice to not have the stereotype of the eastern block as being the enemies. It was pretty cool for the author to imagine what could be done if east and west were able to work together as allies and equals.

    Apparently this book is the first of a trilogy and I believe while all 3 books are complete only the 1st book has been translated to English. I believe the 2nd book is being translated now for written release but no word yet on a audio release. If you enjoy the book like I did please send audible a content request for the remainder of the series.

    146 of 157 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 03-17-15
    Tango Texas 03-17-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Not in love, but definitely intrigued"

    No science fiction works without a great plot/concept driving it and The Three-Body Problem has zero problem on that score - an experiment, done out of a kind of desperation, actually results in first contact with an interstellar alien community and sets up a pending crisis. But even a great concept still needs good characters, setting, and fluid writing to make for a great sci-fi read.

    I didn't have much trouble with setting. This first book of a trilogy draws on the Chinese Cultural Revolution, past and current geopolitics, and current and theoretical quantum physics to set the stage for the saga - interesting, with plenty of potential to sustain the trilogy. My only quibble with the setting used was with the sequences that take place within an on-line game. It is in the game that characters attempt to resolve the Three Body Problem and I found those segments of the book to be rather dull and confusing. No doubt some of the information in those sections will come into play in later books, but they read like bad dream sequences where you don't have any context to make sense of what is going on. And, there is no plot or character development happening during those passages so I just wasn't engaged during those sections.

    The flow of the writing feels a bit choppy, but I would chalk that up to the fact that this is a translation. The translation seems pretty good in that the meaning is clear, but English and Chinese are such very different languages there is bound to be some loss of fluidity. Ultimately, my biggest difficulty with The Three-Body Problem is the characters. The book starts with Ye Wenjie during the Cultural Revolution and she is a very interesting character throughout the book and the only character that is ever really fleshed out. Much of the book is from the POV of Wang Miao, a character that gets little back story and is hard to connect with, and none of the other characters is more than sketched. The Aliens may have some potential in the sequels, but ruthlessness is about the only characteristic they show in this first book.

    Luke Daniels does his normal phenomenal job of creating great character voices which is a huge help with a book with unfamiliar names and he adds much to making this a good listen.

    Bottom line, The Three-Body Problem is challenging, but intriguing and I will listen to the sequels when Audible has them available.

    67 of 76 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan M. Philadelphia 04-20-15
    Ethan M. Philadelphia 04-20-15 Member Since 2005
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    "Intriguing novel of ideas, at the expense of story"

    This book reminds me very much of classic "Golden Age" science fiction (Asimov, Clarke, Poul), with some interesting historical twists. Like many Golden Age books it is primarily a novel of ideas, some of which are very technical and others purely philosophic. And, it may be partially due to the translation, but it also feels like it was written by an author who was a scientist first and a writer second. - character interactions, romance, and emotion all take a back seat to the ideas in the book.

    And the ideas are really interesting! The setting of the Cultural Revolution is fascinating and horrifying in itself, but it also informs the way in which the book grapples with common SF-tropes (SETI, the advancement of science, environmental degradation) in ways that make these topics feel strange and fresh. At the same time, however, while the structure of the novel (flashbacks, seemingly unusual switches in the focal characters, etc.) helps make the ideas more powerful, it creates a lot of additional alienation from the human side of the story, which was already a bit thin.

    The result is a fascinating novel, but one which is not always immediately listenable and compelling. It has taken me a long time to work through this relatively short book, though I have never been particularly bored or regretful of the journey. It is completely worth a listen (or maybe a read? Perhaps some of the problems are less apparent in written form?), but it is not always propulsive. The reader is fine, but adds to the strange drifty quality of which of the work.

    In the end, the book offers much of the best of speculative fiction (reflections on big ideas, amazing scenes, a sense of wonder), but has some of the key weaknesses. For me, it was a completely worthwhile trade-off, but you may think differently.

    63 of 74 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nathan London, Ontario Canada 09-01-16
    Nathan London, Ontario Canada 09-01-16 Listener Since 2007
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    Story
    "Read if you like ideas stories"

    One of the few science fiction stories to come out of China, The Three body problem gives a hard sci-fi modern day telling of alien first contact, and how earth societies could react.

    Trisolaris (Alpha Centauri) is an solar system with 3 stars. The author is imaginative in how this affects the planet, alien species and cultural development. Several human factions discouraged by our history of cultural persecution (like the Chinese cultural revolution) and lack of environmental stewardship are intent on helping prepare the earth to be conquered.

    Science fiction stories dealing with advance technology cultures tend to over-utilize the "science appears as magic" trope. For example, if our nearest star system is 4 years away, it would take 4 years for a signal to reach there, another 4 years for a reply signal to get back, and many more years for any space ship to travel that distance. Instead of simply making up some alien tech to avoid this delay, the author embraces these limitation and find clever ways to incorporate them into the story.

    Being a Chinese story (translated) I was hoping to see insight into Chinese culture and story telling. We are shown some characters persecuted during the Chinese cultural revolution of the 1960s, but not much difference in modern day from what we see in western literature.

    This is an ideas story, characters are given enough personality to service the story's ideas. Details such as radio signals, society social and technical development are given in much detail. This level of detail will put many readers off. The story is also clearly a beginning of a trilogy and offers no satisfying ending other then making you eager to start the next book.

    If you like slow ideas stories with intriguing plot and details, give it a read. If you need interesting characters and fast pace this probably isn't for you. Personally I liked it and eager to start the next.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kent 08-26-15
    Kent 08-26-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Decent science, terrible storytelling."

    I found the narration to be a little bit harsh - voices were flat, angular and forced. There were some enjoyable moments, and the narrator seemed to have a consistent grasp of individual characters.

    The story, though. Ugh. This is a classic example of a story that "tells" rather than "shows." It seems quite clear to me that the author had a pretty good idea about a science fiction concept, but no clue how to wrap a story around it. The storytelling is somewhat interesting to me as a westerner, as it offers a glimpse into another culture, but other than that small redemptive value the story is bland, childish and shallow.


    The vast majority of the story is told in a style of passive observation during which the narrator simply reads an outline of plot points. Boring. This seems like an unfinished sketch of a story that did *not* leave me wanting more.

    40 of 47 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" 02-19-16 Member Since 2016
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    "INTELLETUALS ALWAYS MAKE A FUSS ABOUT NOTHING"

    THE MORE BOOKS YOU READ THE MORE CONFUSED YOU BECOME
    A little bit of Chinese Revolution History and how difficult it was to live in China at that time with a lot of Science Papers. No character development, no story, just science, read like you are listening to Not so Great Courses. If you prefer Scientific American over Discovery mag. than you might like this.

    SHOULD PHILOSPHY GUIDE EXPERIMENTS OR EXPERIMENTS GUIDE PHILOSPHY?
    I developed a love for Chinese History in High School because of one really great teacher. My love all things Chinese made me buy this. There are better history books and a lot better science fiction books.

    QUANTUM PHYSICS
    Luke Daniels does a fine job. Not sure he had anywhere to go with this.

    PHYSICS HAS NEVER EXISTED AND WILL NEVER EXIST

    77 of 93 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 05-28-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the absolute best.."
    Where does The Three-Body Problem rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    With little doubt this is the best audio book I have ever listened to and ranks as one of the best books I have read. Being a huge Iain M Banks fan that is saying something.The narrator was simply brilliant. Narrators like Luke Daniels make movies seem shallow and unsatisfying. When coupled with a writer like Cixin Liu and the superb translation by Ken Liu.. unlike Cixin I don't have the words to describe this level of the art form. Listening to this book was a wonderful experience.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The exposure to the Chinese way of thinking and problem solving.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When the detective takes a drunk professor Wong and the physicist to the field outside the city and shows them the locust plague...Absolutely beautiful piece of prose. Mind altering.Also the end... don't want to give too much away. Just brilliant.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It changed my western bias about Chinese thinking and gave a very different perspective of China. Living in a developing country that has 11 official languages I am no stranger to cultures other than my own and I can relate to the seduction of ideology and theology.
    As Michael Stipes of the rock band REM wrote: "Mythology; seductive, and it turned its trick on me, but I have just begun to understand..."
    I liked how the author demonstrated that amidst the extremism and irrationality it is the steadfastly rational that ultimately hold things together and that ultimately there are no heroes

    The ending also provoked a strong reaction... lol. You'll see.


    Any additional comments?

    I worry that a sequel will ruin the story. As much as this book cries out for one... In fact it throws a little tantrum for one... Ok maybe that last bit was me.. :P

    35 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Dullemond 11-23-15 Member Since 2017
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    "Not for people who expect a book to contain a story"

    3 Body Problem isn't terrible, but it's only the introduction to a trilogy. It cannot stand on its own in any way, which made me feel angry and cheated as a reader. The entire book is really only a reveal. Like an origin story without a subplot. By the end of the book the baseline for the rest of the series has been established, that's all.

    I don't find that acceptable as a reader, sorry. The rest of it is passable, and I will read the next two so that I actually get any resolution, as there is none to be found in this book. So I guess everyone wins right? The reader reads more books and the writer gets to sell more books, or something.

    34 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    whoa chick 12-25-14
    whoa chick 12-25-14
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    "Unique, nerdy, philosophical. Best of 2014."

    Outstanding narration. The range of voices from this narrator is impressive.

    This book is unique. Imagine a deep forward looking science and technology focus with philosophical underpinnings. As a stereotypical white American male, I found myself reflecting on the author, his experience, Chinese culture and game theory.

    I enjoy translated fiction for the self reflection aspects. This is not a book that will reinforce your existing bias.

    The book has two halves, a hard-sciences laden mystery with moral underpinnings and a reveal featuring Sci-fi/futurist explanation and philosophical quandary. The greater your understanding of popular recent science, the more you will appreciate.

    Overall, this is a unique, nerdy, and delightful experience.

    29 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl West Palm Beach, FL, United States 12-26-14
    Carl West Palm Beach, FL, United States 12-26-14 Member Since 2017
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    "Interesting but a bit Slow"

    It was nice to read my first science fiction story by a Chinese author but the story was a bit slow and monotonous. The worst part was the description of the video game in the story which was boring and didn't make the kind of sense it should have. The best parts where the characters and the telling of parts of Chinese culture that few of us ever hear about. It was the Chinese prospective on this story that kept me listening.

    14 of 18 people found this review helpful
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  • colin steele
    3/7/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very technical hard Sci fi"

    Great story, but didn't get too stuck up on the details. If it was a book I would have re read some parts to understand it more. The story line was jumpy but that's not a criticism, as it's quite common but difficult to understand the narrative at times. It all comes together at later points and returning themes and characters can be quite enjoyable. For. Fans of complicated hard Sci fi. Some. Great ideas and explains the technical parts very week.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Chris
    Welwyn, United Kingdom
    1/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Impenetrable"

    Since I am unfamiliar with Chinese names I couldn't keep track of the characters and the slow story failed to grab me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • redfeend
    10/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Concentration required"

    The narration was excellent.

    The story was both absorbing and frustrating at times and I sometimes found it difficult to connect the different elements of the novel. At times I was left thinking 'oh, how did that happen'. Or 'what's the connection'
    Some sections consist of long narratives about 'hard' science. I don't know if this was real or imaginary physics, but it took application and concentration to stick with those sections.
    The end of the book wraps up the story without leaving one thinking things gave just stopped in limbo.
    This book is a translation from the Chinese original. Perhaps that explains some of its minor shortcomings.
    Would I listen to it again? Yes I would.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Robin
    9/11/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointed"

    I really had my hopes up and was expecting a slow burner. But it's really the last two hours I enjoyed the book, the rest spent waiting for it to get good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    7/23/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "awesome"

    wish it had been longer, will look for more from this author and narrator, recommend

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Niall
    7/7/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent Narration!"

    Good narration with clear vocal character definition. You have to suspend disbelief at some point but well worth the time

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Daniel Suss
    6/1/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting and odd"

    Definitely got better. I enjoyed it more as it went on. Still has an oddness to it, although I think it probably is meant to be delivered with more humour than the narrator gave it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • kingsrollo
    4/14/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "sublime"

    excellent story and a wonderful way of handling complex material. very good and nuanced translation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    3/1/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Very enjoyable"

    It's structure was quiet unique I suspect that is due to it originating in another language.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • P. Ellis
    UK
    10/17/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "wonderfully original"

    Abstract concepts explained with such amazing clarity. wonderful. If you like computers or science, you'll like this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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