It’s been about a year and a half since I finished my PhD while working full time, and arguably the biggest change in my life since then has been the sudden availability of free time and the ability to read for pleasure.
With not much Chung Kuo news lately other than the slow but steady drip of publications of the re-cast series (and no personal contact with Mr. Wingrove since January of 2017), I’m going to write up and share some reflections and spoiler-free micro-reviews of some of the other (almost entirely sci-fi) books I’ve read recently, including comparisons to my favorite book series – Chung Kuo – where appropriate.
It’s fair to say that reading Chung Kuo prompted some interest in China, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time in Hong Kong and Shanghai. That’s why I was eager to read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.
Widely acclaimed as the first Asian novel to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and famously reviewed by Barack Obama as making his own problems seem small, The Three-Body Problem relates a future in which a group of humans conspire with the aliens of a dying planet to help them with an eventual invasion.
Despite its near-universal praise, I struggled to finish The Three-Body Problem. The characters are wooden, and I found it impossible to care about any of them. Much of the book is sprawling and unfocused depictions of a virtual reality game wrapping a half-hearted detective story. Whereas Chung Kuo excels in its worldbuilding and character development, both are sorely lacking here.
This book is the first in a trilogy (as well as the basis for both a Chinese film adaptation and upcoming Netflix series) and, needless to say, I did not continue the sequels.
Next up in “What Else Is Matt Reading” is The Wind-up Girl.
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
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