The Three-Body Problem

Macmillan Audio. (Three-Body Problem, Bk. 1). Feb. 2024. tr. from Chinese by Ken Liu. 13:53 hrs. ISBN 9781250370600. $26.99. SF
Actor Rosalind Chao narrates this new audio production of the first installment in Hugo and Locust Award winner Liu’s (To Hold Up the Sky) celebrated “Three-Body Problem” series. Chao, who plays astrophysicist Ye Wenjie in the Netflix series 3 Body Problem, offers a measured, thoughtful presentation of the novel, which explores the scientific, historical, and political contexts that inaugurate Earth’s first contact with the sophisticated Trisolaran alien civilization. Without resorting to dramatics, Chao straightforwardly yet effectively conveys the central characters’ personalities: outwardly kindly but ferocious Ye Wenjie; understated, brilliant nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao; and doggedly persistent police investigator Da Shi. While intricate, Liu’s explanations of the science powering Ye’s ground-breaking discoveries are intriguing, and his account of the damage wrought by the Cultural Revolution is sensitive and deeply affecting. Additionally, inventive descriptions of conditions on the Trisolaran homeworld and the video game that introduces humans to this universe make for an absorbing listening experience.
VERDICT From philosophy to science to history, this winning audio has it all. Sci-fi fans and audiences of the Netflix series will devour this.
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