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The Three-Body Problem

By: Cixin Liu
Narrated by: Bruno Roubicek
Series: Three Body, Book 1
Length: 14 hrs and 37 mins
4 out of 5 stars (412 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Set against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilisation 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 or to fight against the invasion.

©2006 Cixin Liu (P)2015 W F Howes Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A milestone in Chinese science fiction." ( New York Times)
"The best kind of science fiction." (Kim Stanley Robinson)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kai
  • 29-11-2016

Excellent

I'm hesitant to give it five stars for a few reasons. The main ones being odd plot devices, narration not being perfect (albeit good) and the book not leaving itself to be accessible to all.

If you want to get this book, do. You'll love it.

If you're hesitant, ask yourself this: "Am I prepared to listen to a lot of physics explanations and other hard sci-fi content?" If yes, then get this book.

9 people found this helpful

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Fantastic perspective on sifi

A great story, with some good twists. An interesting Chinese cultural undertone.

Narration was ok. A little distracting.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Unnecessarily long and boring

This book begins as a high paced thriller that slowly dissolves into an over-descriptive bore fest. It was very disappointing as the plot had massive potential.
I listened to this in the car with my husband on a road trip. The description was so detailed and repetitive we started yelling 'get there already' or 'we get it' which made things more entertaining. The 'science' gets explained three or four times to ensure the reader gets it. Which you do. The first time.
Another review said the plot features the 'world's most boring video game' and they were right. No one would ever play such a game more than once.
I gave it two stars because its flaws were so ridiculous it became entertaining. However, I won't be bothering with the rest of the series.
The narrator was pretty good. Easy to listen to with a good range of voices. Perhaps a saving grace for this novel.
Some people apparently claim that the physical book is better. I won't be trying it.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Starts very well... then goes a bit odd

Loved the beginning and the historical references, which were emotive and well written.
However, the book got increasingly strange and less and less believable and by the end I was kind of glad to be finished.
I did enjoy the narration and the recording was good quality.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible book, so different from everything

Would you listen to The Three-Body Problem again? Why?

Definitely, I listened to 3-Body and Dark Forrest twice now. and I am completely obsessed with the story. I can barely wait for Death's End

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Three-Body Problem?

The idea of the Siphons is amazing

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Any part with Shi Qiang

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

They want to exterminate the human race, and we are helping them.

Any additional comments?

Please bring out Death's End, can't wait to listen to it

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Not that compelling

The story was disappointingly flat, anticlimactic and I thought made too many scientific hand-wavy assumptions or implausible technologies. It pulled me out of the story.

The parts that Cixin wrote about the Chinese revolution were very compelling and I felt this was where his heart truly lay in this novel.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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The science and logic really are too dodgy.

Logical inconsistencies and dodgy science really bothered me. I'll probably not get the next books.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The original text needs an editor.

To put it as simply and bluntly as possible, while Roubicek does rather well indeed in his performance of the text, the book as a whole suffers given how very, very dry it is, and certain rather annoying plot conveniences the author makes use of. Quite frankly, it drags a lot in places -- the third quarter is especially slow -- and the translation of Cixin Liu's prose isn't exactly gripping. The story here isn't forgettable by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have the potential to frustrate.

1 person found this helpful

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captivating story

Loved it. the story expanded my mind and took me to places far away that may be true after all. the narrator was music to my ears, could do so many different voices and unlike others could pull off female voices quite well.

1 person found this helpful

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Very good!

Fantastic epic story, one of the best scifi book I read in the recent years.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sonia
  • 02-01-2018

Ok, but can get boring

I found the story rather interesting, particularly given it is set in China, and partly in the cultural revolution. So that part of it I found great - very different from the usual American centered SF. I like that it was different, and therefore formed a good 'background' for the story.

The trouble was that there was not much 'story'. I read a review that said that Characters are really only there to explain the science basis. I agree with that view.

Thus, it got boring. I am in two minds about whether or not I will grab book two, or return the book (I am unlikely to re-listen to it).

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-05-2019

Too little, too long

It's a good story, but it spends the first 80% of the book setting up the 20 min climax. It should have been a short story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Pekka Laukkanen
  • 07-12-2018

Dry, so dry.

I had looked forwards to reading this. But I just-cant-continue.
The story is extremely slow and tedious, with absolutely usell and none essencial descriptions of backstories and interactions that do not take the story, mystery or ambiens forwards at all. Instead just making you wallow in obfuscating noise.
Im half way through the book, chapter 15, and the book has not "started going yet".
I will return this.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J.
  • 06-04-2016

Great

What did you like best about this story?

This book has a wealth of great ideas, and it manages to combine great scientific ideas with interesting cultural and social ideas as well. Particularly, the Chinese Cultural Revolution plays a significant role in the story, which has a great impact on one of the main characters. As a westerner (from northern Europe), the Cultural Revolution is not an even I know much about, but seeing it presented from a Chinese viewpoint (albeit with great hindsight) was very interesting.

The scientific ideas are also fantastic. They are complicated (for a novel), and one of them takes several chapters to introduce, but you won't even realise you're being introduced to it. It's absolutely brilliant.

What does Bruno Roubicek bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narration is wonderful in my opinion. Roubicek is quite mellow and perhaps even delivers a tint of depression in the tone, but it suits the book. The book has a eerie sense of mystery and despair, and Roubicek's narration enhances this atmosphere.

Any additional comments?

I'll mention the only downside I noticed: One of the main characters is a bit flat and uninteresting. I'm not sure if this is intended to increase immersion (it's easier to fill and empty pair of pants, so to speak). He is interesting for what happens to him, but many of the supporting characters are more complex and interesting.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Jay Dante
  • 12-12-2016

Strange & wonderful

Keeps you guessing and doesn't disappoint. It's like Ender's Game meets The Mote in God's Eye in a Murakami novel. Hard sci fi, but not pedantically so, with beautiful prose.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gábor Gyebnár
  • 20-02-2019

Creativity lost in scientific mumbo-jumbo

Although there are certainly many examples of creative writing here, they're somewhat ruined by the writer's lack of knowledge in scientific topics he talks about.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • volodymyr
  • 19-01-2020

an ok read

i had mostly 2 problems with the book:
1. poor physics.
2. hard to keep track of all chinese characters.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-12-2019

Comment on narrator

Talented narrator but he struggles to differentiate characters and gosh does he do a TERRIBLE American accent, oh lordy

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • James Laybourn
  • 22-10-2019

interesting concepts but challenging pacing

the concepts are very interesting but it sometimes feels more like a series of lectures or Wikipedia articles rather than a flowing novel.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-09-2019

Magnificent! Engulfing!

I enjoyed it even the second time!
A very different perspective coming from the East.

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  • Thomas
  • 07-03-2018

Dont be put off by the science!!

If you could sum up The Three-Body Problem in three words, what would they be?

Complex, Intriguing and Mysterious.

What did you like best about this story?

At the start of the story I was confused however as the plot unravels all becomes clear!

What about Bruno Roubicek’s performance did you like?

All of the voices were unique without any feeling over done and cringy.

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

Despite its length I was keen to listen as much as possible to find out what was going on.

Any additional comments?

Be warned that this is a trilogy and only Book 1 & Book 2 are currently available as audiobooks. I am hoping the 3rd will be available by the time I finish the second instalment otherwise I will be buying the 3rd to find out how this thrilling story ends.

29 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • matt hall
  • 07-03-2018

Exposition-heavy, clunky at times

So this is decontamination an important book. It's the first science fiction to cross over from the Chinese sci fi community and receive recognition in the west, and as such is definitely worth a read. It's definitely full of ideas and has a certain playfulness about it and these are some very interesting historical aspects centering on the cultural revolution and life as an intellectual in 20th century China.

What I found hard to get past, though, was the science. For a book that feels so heavily on hard science, the author's research is sloppy and scientific notions are often confused or just plane wrong. Relating these ideas is often done in the form of one character lecturing another quote dryly and this frequently becomes tedious. There's a lack of elegance to it which makes quite a bit of the narrative a bit of a slog.

The aliens are ultimately also quite disappointing as well. Initially they are utterly mysterious and their powers seem godlike to the point of extreme implausibility. We learn about their home system, which is an interesting setting, but we also learn that they are basically just like humans in their giving and reasoning with power structures which are instantly recognisable. It feels like a cop out.

This isn't a terrible book, but neither is it a particularly good one. It feels clunky and exps the sorts of tropes that were common in 50s and 60s sci fi. We also see clichéd characters laboring to solve quite simple problems. I won't deny there are some fun episodes but by the end I was just waiting for the book to end.

Not sure I'll bother with the sequels.

41 people found this helpful

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  • TB
  • 16-01-2017

Recommended

An unusual and wonderful book. Full of intriguing ideas. Beautiful writing. Was sad when the book ended.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Campbell
  • 14-11-2017

Fascinating perspectives but felt quite long

Occasionally brilliant observations of the dark side of humanity and an interesting portrayal of a period of history I know little about. Bold portrayal of advances in physics. A book of many different textures. Sometimes dark, sometimes cartoonish. But with a tendancy to run long.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Roy Elmer
  • 06-12-2016

New Perspectives

I loved this, genuinely. It's an entirely new perspective on a usually quite Western dominated genre. What an excellent idea!

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Glyn Williams
  • 18-07-2018

Novel ideas but clunky construction.

I tried very hard to like this book. I was delighted to hear science fiction from a point of view other than the US/UK mainstream. And this book is very definitely from a Chinese perspective.

But it never really worked for me. I didn't find the characters compelling. I thought the science was silly. And the core story didn't hold together. In great storytelling we have to see a the predicament of characters and understand why they are motivated to do what they do. I never bought into the motivation of these characters.

This was not helped by the narration, which was often read in a flat robotic monotone.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Mann
  • 18-08-2018

Curious but enjoyable

The best science fiction stories have a profound "what if" scenario that they explore. Without giving the details of the story away, this has a pretty good scenario. it also has nice insights into the religious sensibility and our need for saviours, plus important themes of environmental responsibility. I believe it is the first in a series so I'm looking forward to listening to some more.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Will
  • 10-11-2017

Great story, uninspiring narration

Narrator is quite flat and totally butchers some of the Chinese names, the story is very good and builds very slowly.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • J Sims
  • 13-12-2016

Good story, wooden delivery

Whilst the story was a refreshing break from the my usual diet of space opera series', I struggled to get to the end of this as the reader made everything feel really quite dry and at some points even seemingly started reading in. a. robot. voice. even. though. it. was. a. real. person.

That said, I still recommend it to anyone looking for a thought provoking modern day sci fi yarn, and it's especially nice to see a story not based on the USA or Europe.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Taylor
  • 09-11-2019

Fantastic

I never thought I would read a Chinese author. But I am so glad I did. This is a fantastic book. Absolutly recomed this to all.

1 person found this helpful