Teaser Tuesday 6/11/2019: “The Three-Body Problem”

So this week I’m continuing my recent spree of reading translated works* with The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu (or Liu Cixin, depending). As you may be able to guess by the author’s name, this is a Chinese science fiction novel.


I am in a desert.


One interesting thing about this book is that part of it takes place inside a virtual reality game which involves a pyramid (the one on the cover, I assume). The objective of this game is apparently to figure out when the climate is going to become stable. Failing to successfully predict this can result in problems, such as, oh, everyone in the civilization — other players, presumably — being required to “dehydrate” into basically rolled up sheets of parchment to await better weather. I’m pretty sure this game has implications for the real world of the novel, although I don’t know what those are yet. All I do know is that the stakes are a little higher than in Pyramid of Doom.


When the lab director saw Wang, he hurried over and began to report a series of malfunctions with the main reaction chamber—a recent ritual whenever Wang arrived at work. By now the main reaction chamber had been in continuous operation for more than a year, and many sensors had lost sensitivity, resulting in measurement errors that required shutting down the apparatus for maintenance. But as the lead scientist on the project, Wang insisted that the machine would not be shut down until the third set of molecular combinations was finished. The technicians had no choice but to jury-rig more and more kludges onto the main reaction chamber to compensate. And now those kludges required their own kludges, a state of affairs that exhausted the project staff.

Hmm, I don’t know much about Cixin Liu’s background, but he clearly knows how kludges work.

Meanwhile, editing continues on Father’s Books! I’m not quite done with the paper editing (something about having a new-ish dog tends to reduce one’s productivity), but I’m within a few pages of the end, which means at this point it’s very hard to find a Teaser that doesn’t contain spoilers. (At the end of one of my books, even an attributed line of dialog counts as a spoiler.) But maybe if I delete all the names and change all the pronouns to “they” so you can’t tell the gender of the suviving characters … hmmm …

A battered pickup was parked near the porch, the driver’s side door hanging open. They didn’t recognize it. They looked at the porch, where the hollow spaces beneath the settles had been ripped open, freshly splintered wood showing pale against the older, weathered surfaces. One of them got out and checked the truck. They found an insurance card in the glove compartment. The vehicle didn’t belong to <REDACTED>. They went to the porch, verified that the storage compartments were empty. They checked the front door. Locked. It didn’t appear that any attempt had been made to force it. A quick circuit of the house showed no other signs of entry.

They returned to the car. One of the others said: “What’d you find, Sherlock?”

“That’s not their truck, but I guarantee they stole it and drove it here.”

Judge, jury, and ….. executioner? Only the end of the book will tell!

* After finishing Night Watch, the next book I started was Daimones, which I believe was originally written in Italian. Note my use of the word “started”, not “finished”. There’s a reason for that.

One thought on “Teaser Tuesday 6/11/2019: “The Three-Body Problem”

  1. So far in, I love the Three Body series. After a long time, I am really enjoying sci-fi. And yes, Cixin Liu does seem to know what he’s talking about, doesn’t he? The science seems pretty solid, at least as far as my limited knowledge tells me. Currently reading The Dark Forest, and that’s pretty nice too.


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