The Four-Body Problem – By @oliverdfinel

By Oliver Finel


The Four-Body Problem 


One of the goals Marc told us to accomplish over winter break was to read a book we wouldn’t normally read. Ever since I finished high-school, I’ve almost exclusively read works of non- fiction. I believed the time I invested in reading should arm with lessons and skills I could apply in real life. I left fiction aside, thinking I’d come back to it at some later point of my life. 

At SCA, I came to understand how important it is to have a diversity of cultural inputs. Only reading books from the same genre was obviously hindering the variety of those inputs. Not only was I sticking to one particular genre, but I was also sticking to authors who hailed from either the U.S, the U.K, France or the Western world in general . 

To smash my Christmas goal, I set out to find a work of fiction written by someone who wasn’t brought up in the West. After some extensive browsing on Goodreads, I stumbled upon ‘The Three Body Problem’ – A Science-Fiction series written by the Chinese author Cixin Liu. The reviews were fantastic and I felt like it would be rather interesting to get a Chinese perspective on the future. Indeed, it often seems like the list of great works of Science-Fiction is dominated by American and British authors. 

When I started the series, I expected to get through the first book during the break. Four-hundred pages seemed manageable over two weeks considering I would be traveling and had to get a fair amount of work done. Needless to say… I fooled myself. I finished the first book in 3 days. 

After the first couple of chapters, I was hooked. The ‘Three-Body Problem’ became my whole entire life. It consumed my every thought. Each moment I was away from the book, I ached to return to it. The urge became so strong I downloaded the ebook version on my phone just so I could get back to the story at anytime. I would take ‘bathroom breaks’ during family dinners just so I could read a few more pages. I became fanatically obsessed with Liu’s masterpiece. 

A couple of hours ago, I turned the last page of ‘Death’s End’, the last book in Cixin Liu’s trilogy ‘A Remembrance of Earth’s Past’. I initially planned to write this SCAB right after finishing the series. It was impossible. I was deeply saddened to leave this universe and its characters behind. My mind was also absolutely fried by the grandeur and epic scale of that story. I had to process it all, alone, at home, staring blankly at my wall for a good half-hour. 

I hadn’t experienced this kind of highly personal connection to a piece of a literature in years. It felt incredibly liberating to let yourself become emotionally involved with a work of art. I felt bare and open in the best possible way. The intellectual stimulation Liu’s books offered was an absolute thrill. As I write this SCAB, the questions and problems that were posed in the books still haunt my mind. 

While I’d love to give you details and proper summary of the series, it is impossible at this time. I still haven’t processed it all. Condensing into one SCAB thousands of years of History across multiple planets, galaxies and universes wouldn’t do the books any justice. I do hope you will read the books and feel the same things I did so I’ll leave you with a quick lift pitch for the series: 

“Imagine ‘Interstellar’ on steroids, infused with a million Red Bulls and sprinkled with some very potent meth” 

That’s how good it is and I’m not even exaggerating. 

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