This is the first in my series of reviews of the 2015 Hugo Awards Best Novels Nominees. For background on this, read my post about it.
Reading "The Three-Body Problem" was... an
interesting experience.I read the translation, so I honestly have no
idea if the stylistics concerns I had are the author's or the
translator's. But as an English reader, it's irrelevant :)
thought about the good and the bad of the novel, the bad outweighed the
good in my list -- but I was still driven to finish (and only partially
due to hoping for a character to get her VERY well-earned comeuppance).
Most of my negatives bothered me because I enjoyed it -- it could've
been a classic, but there were some pretty glaring flaws. Still, a good
read, and I'll definitely read the 2nd installment!
- Great pace, some intriguing science in the last 1/4 of the book
The effects and impacts of the Cultural Revolution on scientists,
especially physicists, was fascinating. I'd read before, but forgotten,
that relativity was considered counter-revolutionary. Which was doubly
impressive, as it predated any major communist revolution by 10 years!
It read like a fairy tale. Not the content, but the style -- lots of
passive voice, just an odd read. Of course, this may be normal in
Chinese sci-fi (actually, based on my almost-twenty-year-old knowledge of Chinese, I think this was a translator choice), but it was very off-putting
- Very few characters
were well-developed, most were more archetypes -- concerned scientist,
hardboiled cop (I loved Da Shi!), etc. Some work, some don't.
level of science performed during the Cultural Revolution is suspect --
the development of a microwave weapon in the 60s that could take down
- At one point Mao (or a direct subordinate) rejects a SETI-ish
message as "too political". There's just no way this would have happened
during the CR. "Too political" didn't exist as a concept. Any subordinate that did that would be immediately served up for reeducation, or worse.
Where I rank it in my Read of the Hugos:
The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman (Not a nominee, but amazing)
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Not a nominee, but very good)
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
No Award (this is an option in the rather complicated, but logical, voting process)