The Three-Body Problem Background

The Three-Body Problem Background

The Three-Body Problem is a novel written by Liu Cixin. It was originally published as a book in Chinese in 2008. Later, an English translation by Ken Liu was published in 2014. The Three-Body Problem quickly became one of the most popular science fiction works in China, winning the 2006 Chinese Science Fiction Galaxy Award in 2006. The English translation was also well received, having been nominated for the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel and winning the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

The Three-Body Problem actually refers to a concept in orbital mechanics. The planet is named Trisolaris, and it orbits three suns, the Alpha Centauri System. This is an example of a three-body problem, and one result of this set up is that the orbital trajectory is highly unpredictable. The native Trisolarans go between Stable Eras and Chaotic Eras whenever the distance between the suns and the arrangement of the system changes. The novel, however, deals with much more than the struggles of the Trisolarans; it also explores how much political control is appropriate, the demise of humankind, and how much control knowledge has over people.

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