HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Martin Kleppmann

4.8 on Amazon

241 HN comments

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Jared Diamond Ph.D.

4.5 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

4.6 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Robert C. Martin

4.7 on Amazon

232 HN comments

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

David Allen and Simon & Schuster Audio

4.5 on Amazon

231 HN comments

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu, Luke Daniels, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

225 HN comments


William Gibson, Robertson Dean, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

218 HN comments

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Hardcover Journal and Elder Wand Pen Set

Insight Editions

4.8 on Amazon

212 HN comments

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Erich Gamma , Richard Helm , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

208 HN comments

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

4.5 on Amazon

193 HN comments

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

191 HN comments

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)

Benjamin Graham , Jason Zweig , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

188 HN comments

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Charles Petzold

4.6 on Amazon

186 HN comments

Seveneves: A Novel

Neal Stephenson, Mary Robinette Kowal, et al.

4.1 on Amazon

184 HN comments

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

Gayle Laakmann McDowell

4.7 on Amazon

180 HN comments

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Sorted by relevance

TuringNYConDec 21, 2019

The book The Three Body Problem also has a great scene explaining logic and computational math via ... traditional means :-)

fasteddieonMar 2, 2020

This is an important plot point in the book the excellent Sci Fi novel The Three Body Problem.

juancampaonOct 13, 2018

If you like hard sci-fi, the amazing trilogy by Liu Cixin The Three Body Problem uses gravitational wave communication as an important part of the plot.

stenonJan 16, 2020

The communication delay is one of the key plot elements in The Three Body Problem books.

gotemonDec 28, 2020

Wow, I had heard the Three Body Problem is a great book. This is very sad news.

karimdagonAug 23, 2018

Relevant (and quite enjoyable) read: The Three Body Problem (novel) https://www.amazon.com/Three-Body-Problem-Cixin-Liu/dp/07653...

turbinerneiteronJune 22, 2021

The Three Body Problem does have people caught in situations far bigger than them, but the characters do have agency and change the flow of history significantly.

I can only recommend these books, among the best I ever read.

enjalotonNov 20, 2018

clearly it's the sophons.

(reference to the Three Body Problem, an awesome book)

colmvponFeb 1, 2016

Researched Cixin Lui. Wow. Why haven't I heard about him before? I'm downloading The Three-Body Problem on my Kindle tonight.

Herodotus38onJune 25, 2018

Read the book "The Three Body Problem" and the rest of the trilogy, it provides a very interesting and scary theory that I don't want to ruin.

mirimironAug 25, 2016

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin features a more extreme version.


IntronExononFeb 7, 2018

Maybe at a certain point civilizations realize the potential risks of broadcasting, and go stealthy. Have you read ‘The Three Body Problem’ trilogy?

ganstylesonJune 9, 2020

The Power Broker

The excellent series on Lyndon Johnson by the same author as The Power Broker

The Three Body Problem series

billiamonOct 16, 2019

It's....complicated. That's why The Three Body Problem is not just a great scifi book, but a real mechanics brain teaser. That doesn't take away from the strength of this illustration, which is explanatory in nature, not authoritative.

tommooronMar 31, 2018

After reading the Three Body Problem It feels like encoding our exact location might not have been the smartest move :)

chillacyonMar 7, 2020

The third book of the Three Body Problem is pretty amazing to read if you like sci-fi which goes to the heat death of the universe.

arethuzaonJune 29, 2017

I rather liked The Three Body Problem - but I listened to the unabridged audio-books rather than reading them which definitely makes many books easier to consume.

teeknoonNov 21, 2018

I'm not sure if it counts as recent, but you should absolutely read The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

I also really enjoyed The Nexus Trilogy by Ramez Naam.

tripleseconOct 9, 2016

The Three Body Problem is reasonably good, and comes from a Chinese author
Link to NPR article about it because I'd rather you chose your own bookshop. http://www.npr.org/2014/11/13/363123510/three-body-problem-a...

MattRixonMar 5, 2018

I just finished reading The Three-Body Problem, which covers some of the same ground... though the aliens in that book end up communicating in some more exotic ways.


Jun8onMay 23, 2016

I just finished reading volume 1 of The Three Body Problem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three-Body_Problem) and started vol 2. Could the big radio telescope be a case of life imitating art :-)

P.S. Fantastic book BTW, quite different from general SF fare.

heisenbitonAug 20, 2016

Just finished reading "The three body problem". A civilization on planet in a system with 3 suns would have some interesting challenges.

maverick_icemanonSep 11, 2016

The Three-Body Problem - Liu Cixin
My first introduction to non-western sci-fi. Intriguing concept and very good translation.

Sir_CmpwnonFeb 23, 2017

Sounds like you haven't read The Three Body Problem (which is a shame, you should totally check it out).

zengidonJuly 13, 2018

I just started Death's End! Great books so far, though The Dark Forest felt very slow compared to The Three-body Problem.

jmeyers44onMay 8, 2017

This is eerily similar to the plot of The Three-Body Problem[1], specifically the cyclical development of intelligent life and its race to avoid mass extinction caused by intersecting one of three suns in its stellar system.


beatonJan 3, 2020

Having read The Three Body Problem, I am no longer nearly so excited for our first encounter with an alien civilization...

Cyph0nonJune 7, 2015

Check out the excellent, and recently translated, Chinese scifi novel “The Three Body Problem”.

Grimwood's “Replay” is a great time travel novel if you're into that.

iammilesonJuly 13, 2018

I read A Brief History of Time after the death of Stephen Hawking and recently wrapped up the Three Body Problem. I think they make an excellent combo for anyone interested in Physics, Sci-Fi, and Computer Science

zwilliamsononDec 29, 2019

The Three-Body Problem series by Chixin Liu

* The Three-Body Problem
* The Dark Forest
* Death's End

Expanded my perception of life, death, love, time and our potential purpose, via some very well written fiction (space opera style). Chixin Liu nailed it!

breckonJuly 8, 2016

If you like SciFi, a relevant trilogy that I would highly recommend is The Three Body Problem/The Dark Forest/Death's End by Cixin Liu:


craftandhustleonMar 31, 2016

After recently finishing The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, the sci-fi trope of life at different magnitudes is fascinating to think about. Without spoiling too much, there's a chapter where an entire universe rich with intelligent life is discovered as scientists "unfold" a single proton.

ohaideredevsonMar 7, 2019

The Three Body Problem is officially the most overrated book on Hacker News. I am trying to understand why. It has no soul, the "science" is garbage, not a single character is memorable, it's way, way too long for what it is.

jordacheonNov 1, 2016

Am I the only one who was wholeheartedly underwhelmed by the Three Body Problem? I did get through it but I consider it a waste of my time. The only good part of the story was the mysterious count down timer.

QAPereoonOct 26, 2017

You should read Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem I think you’d enjoy it.

jorvionJuly 27, 2018

Actually, its from a full trilogy: “The Three Body Problem”, “The Dark Forest” and “Death’s End”. Wonderful books and indeed wholly recommended to any sci-fi buff.

Jun8onOct 31, 2017

Good discussion of the Dark Forest theory and other possible answers to the Fermi Paradox: https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/18127/dark-fo...

BTW, if you haven't read the Three Body Problem buy it and start, like, today!

robterrellonSep 14, 2018

"The Three-Body Problem" (& its sequels) are a fantastic exploration of this terrifying idea.

kelnageonMay 27, 2020

Alternatively, see "The Three Body Problem" by Cixin Liu [1] for an interesting take on what such anomalies could indicate!

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three-Body_Problem_(novel)

SolaceQuantumonMar 1, 2016

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin is an excellent "near future" sci-fi that focuses on humanity's context and individual humans identifying with humanity. A good translation is available by Ken Liu.

eckmLJEonMar 7, 2019

For a captivating exploration of these same ideas in contemporary fiction, try Liu Cixin's The Three Body Problem. As a tip, I enjoyed it much better having not even read the blurb on the back of the book. It spoils events that don't truly unfold until far into the story.

new299onDec 24, 2016

The Three Body problem by Cixin Liu is very dense, but entertaining and has depth.

oriolggonJuly 27, 2020

The trilogy Remembrance of Earth's Past by Cixin Liu:

The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death's End.

I really liked this sci-fi trilogy, can't talk more about it without spoiling it. Enjoy your vacation!

patricklouysonNov 21, 2018

I liked the beginning of the Three Body Problem, but it got really weird towards the end of the first book. I had already ordered the next 2 books but couldn't motivate myself to keep going. Does it get better?

goatloveronMay 26, 2021

Would you consider the characters of The Three Body Problem to be all that interesting? Yet it's widely considered to be a great novel. Not sure whether The Dark Forest or the third book do a better job with characters, but the plot and the ideas make the story.

parliament32onSep 9, 2019

Likewise, I was pretty disappointed with The Three Body Problem after all the hype about it. Maybe it was because it was a translated work but it felt super flat for me.

vsconDec 29, 2017

I recently read The Three Body Problem and it surely is one of the most interesting and accessible hard science fiction books that I have read in a long time.

eindiranonNov 30, 2018

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. One of the most thought provoking pieces of science fiction I've read. I would recommend not looking up anything about the plot and just going in blind.

vmonMar 17, 2017

There's a cool element of this in the Three Body Problem, a sci-fi book, where aliens use dehydration to survive to disastrous conditions on their home planet. You might like the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IQO403K/

tbakonDec 31, 2017

You might be interested in the wonderful book series "The Three-Body Problem" by Liu Cixin. It explores (among countless other things) how huge expensive projects that last multiple generations could be implemented.

JohnStrangeIIonAug 9, 2020

I've got to agree, The Three Body Problem was the second worst science fiction novel I've ever read - to be honest, I only read 3/4 of it. But he's not an English author so he doesn't count.

physicsyogionJuly 15, 2018

Cryptonomicon and Snow Crash were great. Others you might:

- The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang (superb short story that Arrival was based on)
- The Three Body-Problem (Cixin Liu)
- Dune (Frank Herbert)
- The Parable of the Sower (Octavia Butler)
- Lucifer's Hammer (Larry Niven)
- The Kundalini Equation (Steven Barnes)

xelxebaronDec 20, 2018

This is amazing! You inspired me to get Dotsies on my Kindle. I've been wanting to read Cixin's "The Three-Body Problem", so this is the perfect opportunity.

I'm also packaging the fonts up for Void Linux but was unable to find any licensing information. Do you have dotsies under Creative Commons? Did I just miss something?

cbushkoonJan 31, 2021

I have not studied this area of science but the article reminded me of the fictional book series The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

I really don't want to say anything to spoil the books but the series were so good that I devoured them last summer which is something I rarely do.

ryanjodonnellonAug 3, 2017

I would add "The Three Body Problem" and following two books in its trilogy to the list. Sci-fi series by Liu Cixin. Won the Hugo award and is recommended by Obama and Zuck. I felt so small after reading that one :)

spenukeonFeb 14, 2020

For a very informal tour, The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu is a science fiction novel where the history of mathematics, physics, and computation play a large role. So much so that I think it puts many people off the book and its entire trilogy.

mdekkersonFeb 13, 2018

I rarely stop reading books once I started, but halfway through The Three Body Problem I gave up. I realised that although all the word were in English, the order in which they were arranged on page was not making any sense to me.

jordacheonNov 9, 2017

the three body problem was a horrible book. The whole notion of detecting signals from other civilizations is not a novel concept in Sci-fi world. There are much better articulated & compelling examples from other science fiction works..

stuffedBellyonJuly 29, 2016

reading The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

The book was published in 2008 and I just finished reading the book a couple of months ago. It was a wild journey into the land of science fiction. Highly recommend if you are a fan of Asimov or Phillip K Dick.

_iyigonJan 28, 2020

I certainly remember Emperor Qin Shi Huang from his appearance in both "The Three-Body Problem" and the somewhat lesser-known "Day of the Dragon King," an entry in Magic Tree House children's fantasy series :)

Ironically given the book-burning context, our youthful protagonists in the latter are equipped with magic library cards.

pbnjayonJuly 13, 2018

For sci-fi recs: I recently read The Three-body Problem by Cixin Liu (a trilogy) and thought it was really good.

Also just started another sci-fi trilogy with A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge which has some really fun and interesting (if hand-wavy) ideas about deep space physics.

jlebaronAug 13, 2016

I don't think it's a spoiler to say that this is a major plot point in "The Three Body Problem" by Liu Cixin.

kobeyaonMay 7, 2017

There is a popular (but IMHO terrible) Chinese science fiction book called "The three body problem" which tackles this exact issue.

MattRixonMar 5, 2018

Not exactly, Arrival is more about how learning a new language can change the way you think.

If you want a fiction novel that IS very similar to this, I recommend reading The Three-Body Problem.

hellcowonJune 10, 2017

The Three Body Problem (sci-fi book) had a similar puzzle in it--i.e. how can something as small as an atom have such a profound effect on our civilization? I won't spoil it, but it's well worth reading.

ccleveonOct 12, 2017

I'm halfway through The Three Body Problem, a science fiction novel by Chinese author Cixin Liu. The apparent irrationality of three-body orbits is central to the story. So far, it's excellent, both as science fiction and as social commentary on contemporary China.

AlexCoventryonOct 2, 2016

It's reminiscent of the role played by the Sophons in Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem, except in this case it's self-inflicted.


ethbroonMay 21, 2019

I was taking issue with the medium post.

"In his sci-fi trilogy The Three Body Problem, author Liu Cixin presents the dark forest theory of the universe."

"Liu invites us to think about this a different way."

KerrickStaleyonSep 5, 2018

Thanks for the links! Really interesting to see other projects working in this direction. I'll try picking up some of those readers too :) I'm trying to learn both simplified and traditional (but my simplified is pulling ahead right now because of all the work I'm putting in on The Three Body Problem).

anthonygdonJan 20, 2021

I just finished The Three Body Problem. It's the best science fiction I've read in a very long time. It is a trilogy so it'll take some time, but completely worth it.

pavel_lishinonJuly 11, 2017

Eric Nylund's "Signal to Noise" and "A Signal Shattered" posits something similar - they're out there, and they're out to get you - but FTL communications exist and the others are more rabidly mercantile than invasive.

(To be fair, I've only read The Three Body Problem, and I'm not sure how it evolves from there.)

mirimironDec 28, 2016

In The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin describes the orbit of Trisolaris (Proxima b?) as chaotic. It's a major aspect of the plot. And this article references Barnes et al. (2016) for the hypothesis that "a passage of Proxima close to α Cen may have destabilized the original orbit(s) of Proxima’s planet(s)". That's pretty cool!

zengidonSep 3, 2018

The Three Body Problem Trilogy (officially named the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy) by Cixin Liu goes into space elevators a good bit. The Three Body Problem sets up the technology involved, while the other books develop the subject further.

mr_luconJan 23, 2019

Aha! This is the perfect place to ask this!

I've dipped back into reading SF after a long time of only reading the classics (Heinlein et al), and the Three-Body Problem, which I read a few days ago, did seem to me to fit into that mould.

But what are some other modern "hard SF" books you've enjoyed?

lurker458onFeb 5, 2019

The Three Body Problem is famous mainly because it criticizes the Chinese government. it also suffers from a poor translation to English.

elboruonJuly 1, 2018

I decided to do something similar after reading a Chinese Sci-fi novel (The Three Body Problem) it was a really cool novel but I found it difficult to retain a lot of the characters' names, I had to go back in the book several times looking for names and that made the reading a little tedious.

aduitsisonJuly 16, 2019

A similar thing is described in Cixin Liu's "The Three Body Problem", where soldiers holding flags emulate the circuitry of a computer.

hellcowonOct 12, 2017

For those downvoting, the above comment is a reference to a terrific sci-fi novel, "The Three-Body Problem," which focuses on the same problem discussed in the article.

sumitgsonJuly 16, 2018

Remembrance of earth's past trilogy. There are three books in the series: 1) The Three Body Problem, 2) The Dark Forest, and 3) Death's end. It talks about the ongoing tension between humanity and the alien race. It explores many facets of human nature and humanity. Must read.

yourbandsucksonNov 14, 2018

You might want to read some recent Chinese history if you think weaponizing the education system is a good idea.

Or heck, just read the first couple chapters of the three body problem.

fogdartonJuly 10, 2021

Assuming we could see it. I'm not a physicist but I have read this book series called The Three Body Problem, in which we discover alien structures, but in the fourth dimension.

TeMPOraLonSep 22, 2017

>> You should try Liu Cixin's Remembrances of Earth's Past trilogy

> I read The Three Body Problem by the same author.

Information for future readers of this thread: those are the same books.

(Also, 11/10 great sci-fi; highly recommended.)

derekerdmannonApr 18, 2017

"the FRBs were as blinding as flash grenades in a dark forest"

Just that much should be terrifying for anyone who's read The Three-Body Problem and its sequels.

jombiezebusonNov 2, 2016

I'm told from a Chinese source that while the concepts of The Three Body Problem are good, the writing style is considered terrible even in Chinese.

riffraffonJuly 16, 2021

that is what I thought when I read the three-body problem.

If you can manipulate space-time at the levels exposed in the book you can trivially build orbitals that will host trillions of beings and live in a post-scarcity society for millennia, after which your society is likely to disappear waaay before you run out of space and resources.

bcbrownonJuly 11, 2017

The sci-fi book The Dark Forest (sequel to the Three Body Problem) discusses this problem. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but I found a lot to agree with in the book.

SemiapiesonDec 7, 2015

I tend to find it tedious when sci-fans preen about how they howl and fling books across rooms for some scientific error they're clever enough to notice (as opposed to the dozens of errors they don't react to), errors that have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. The Three Body Problem has flat-out ridiculous science; it's still pretty good.

hindsightbiasonDec 6, 2016

Books 2 & 3 of Liu Cixin's Dark Forest series were translated this year. One of them will get the Hugo (book 1, the Three Body Problem won the 2015 Hugo).

mellingonDec 5, 2018

I started The Three-Body Problem yesterday. I don’t read much science fiction but I’ve seen this particular book mentioned a lot so I thought I’d give it a try.

samlentsonDec 13, 2020

Interesting idea.

Assuming this is still under development, I thought my experience might be of use.

I input The Three-Body Problem (Cixin), Sapiens (Harari), Leonardo da Vinci (Isaacson), For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway), Bluebeard (Vonnegut), and On the Shortness of Life (Seneca) and received in return...children's books!

Age-gating the recommendations might be something to look into.

_1100onFeb 12, 2020

The Three Body Problem is a first-contact trilogy of books that starts just like this:

Someone ponders what the most powerful thing in our area is (the sun) and then finds a way to influence it just enough so that it can send repeating signals. From there the alien armada heads our way and sets up the plot of the rest of the trilogy!

edanmonJuly 24, 2018

Happy to see some great books recommended there. Specifically, let me call out:

The Three Body problem.
The Lathe of Heaven.

And while I haven't read Parable of the Sower yet, everything I've read of Octavia Butler has ranged from really good to some of my favorite books ever, so I'm sure it's a good one.

One anti-recommendation (kind of): I recently read Finite and Infinite Games, after many (many) recommendations for it, and didn't particularly like it. Obviously I'm in the minority on this, but I really wonder what other people saw in it.

peter_chickensonSep 16, 2019

I recently finished The Three-Body Problem, and I think it is the best book I have read in years.

It held my attention all the way through and I am now starting the sequel.

F_r_konJuly 27, 2018

For those who don't catch it, it's from the "the three body problem" book. I highly recommend it to anyone if you like a techy sci fi with philosophical questions.

gdyonMay 20, 2019

I've read a lot of Azimov, including the Foundation series, and nearly all books by the Strugatsky brothers. And I too loved Harry Harrisons's Deathworld when I was a schoolboy :)
Reading Chekhov makes me genuinely sad, maybe I take the lives of his heroes too close to heart.

I am not sure about top 3, but if I had to reread something I've read before, I'd start with Dostoevsky's 'Idiot', continue with "За миллиард лет до конца света" by Strugatsky brothers, and maybe I'll reread the Permutation City by Greg Egan.

As for the Three Body Problem, I find it unique in that it realisticly represents the humanity's place in the galaxy (a fly on the wind shield). Lui Cixin's cosmic sociology [0] rings true to me too. The idea of laws of physics being the result of the activity of advanced civilizations, while not original (see Lem's “The New Cosmogony”), is fascinating nonetheless. The story of how 'right' moral choices in the context of that world lead to the end of humanity is another original bit.

[0] https://whatever.scalzi.com/2014/11/11/the-big-idea-liu-cixi...

btrautsconNov 1, 2016

I agree with the assessment of the Three-Body Problem.

I was excited about the premise and I enjoyed some of the SF concepts, but really the "back-story" was IMO the interesting piece, whereas the present time "action" was quite bland. I wouldn't go so far as to not recommend, but I agree the criticism is fair.

jriotonJuly 11, 2017

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin. Chinese Science Fiction, really different perspective of hard questions particularly from a Western perspective.

mathewsandersonJune 4, 2018

There was a plot line in The Three Body Problem where aliens sabotaged particle physics experiments to limit human technological advancement while they were making the journey to earth.

Amazing series and even friends that don’t enjoy science function enjoyed reading them.


svachalekonAug 7, 2018

The Three-Body Problem and especially its follow up, The Dark Forest, explore this a bit. Great books to anyone interested in this kind of topic.

TLDR is that technology ramps to effectively infinite levels far faster than anyone can reach the nearest star. The only safe option, strategically, is to kill off any intelligent life you are capable of killing, lest the balance go the other way before you know it. And knowing that, no intelligent species should let itself be found.

Even if you accept the premise, a counter-argument could be that the only way to truly "win" the race would be to be the first one out the gate and ramp your resources to infinity. If a strategy requires an unknown condition to be true to win, you have to assume it's true as all other outcomes are a loss.

I've also heard it argued that any species that makes it that far will need to have overcome its violent impulses.

It's a lot of speculation, but interesting stuff.

sebbecaionDec 21, 2017

The premise of "The Three Body Problem" is that the fastest way to make a technological leap is to find another species that has already developed the technology. Even seeing what can be done would make a huge impact. China's effort in the article parallels what happens in the book. Surprising that they don't mention this when talking about the motivations of billionaires and nation-states.

hsndmooseonMar 19, 2021

I think it's actually in the first book! The Three Body Problem.

indescions_2018onMay 23, 2018

Great suggestions so far. This is really an untapped genre in science fiction. Post-Internet Literature. Examples that come most readily to mind are things like Flatland, The Machine Stops, The Last Question, Arrival, and The Three Body Problem. Perhaps some of the more obscure "recursive" and "ergodic" fictions such as House of Leaves. But I dare say the great "coding" novel has yet to be written ;)

grafeliconDec 21, 2017

Fiction (fantasy): Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence (2013)

Fiction (Sci-fi): The Three-body Problem by Liu Cixin

Non-fiction: The C Programming Language

kerbalspaceproonDec 12, 2018

The Three Body Problem is entirely a set up for the other books. It does indeed have social commentary- but that social commentary is coming from a Chinese perspective.

tralarpaonAug 23, 2018

> hoping it can stand with Neal Stephenson's work

Thanks, always looking for new stuff to read. (edit: not really new, but new to me :)

Concerning The Three-Body Problem, I found it a bit disappointing. Great build up with a rather traditional solution making some things of the build up looking a little bit silly.

JadeNBonJan 11, 2015

According to Amazon, there are at least two "The Three Body Problem"s (ha!), one by Cixin Liu and one by Catherine Shaw. Which one do you recommend?

bambataaonJan 27, 2021

Consider Phlebas was one of the few books I’ve given up on. Everything was just so damn corny. I had been lookig forward to it for a while so it was very disappointing.

Thanks for the other recommendations. My only gripe with The Three Body Problem was that the characters spoke in incredibly stilted exposition.

spookyuseronAug 12, 2017

I also recently finished The Three Body Problem, we could get there in 500 years with the minor caveat that we are not killed in a dark forest strike sometime before then.

aneesh297onJune 28, 2020

The Three Body Problem and it's sequels by Liu Cixin.
The series is called "Remembrance of Earth's Past".

dpauonJune 22, 2019

While the film version was cancelled, apparently a TV series is in the works:

A TV adaptation of Chinese sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem is in development

detritusonFeb 5, 2019

Whereas I just this week finished ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ after my partner put it aside temporarily, so thought "why not?" as I was in between books, so entered into it with zero expectation and.. loved it.

Some truly wonderful writing — actually beautiful in points — and grand ideas and vision. Heart too, which is often missing in sci-fi.

Contrast that with the very-oft promoted and recommended “The Three Body Problem” which makes many an appearance in HN, which I started the other night which is — bluntly — awfully written. It has some wonderful ideas, which is what has kept me from putting it down, but I've been cringing at how poor the dialogue and exposition often is. It's borderline amateur. imho, obv.

If you like Atwood's worlds, you'll probably like Le Guin's. If you simply deride their encouragement as 'SJW', you're probably pushing your own agenda.

elorantonDec 16, 2017

That's not entirely true. The "The Three Body Problem" trilogy had a lot of literature tone and it's considered one of the best SF works ever. Obviously not for that reason alone but what I'm saying is that nobody seemed to bother by the prose as long as the science part was solid and the fiction original.

viachonJune 25, 2018

After reading the "The Three-Body Problem", I think it might be not that bad news after all.

malloreononAug 20, 2020

I put off reading The Three Body Problem because I wanted to make sure I was good and ready to be amazed.

I've read Cixin Liu's short stories and thoroughly enjoyed them. He comes up with some amazing ideas. I even really liked the movie based on Wandering Earth, despite how it converted the story to more action.

I barely made it through 3BP and I don't have much excitement for the sequels. The story just did not grip me at all.

svachalekonSep 11, 2020

Yeah, I worked out some pretty depressing logic about the implications of the speed of technological progress vs light speed, and discovered that Liu Cixin had gone down the exact same path in the Dark Forest, which follows the Three Body Problem. Check it out, it's a good read despite the depressing implications.

cluboholiconDec 29, 2019

Went through the whole trilogy this year and it was one of the best book experiences i ever had.

I am now reading Revelation Space.

Do you have any book suggestions like the Three Body Problem? What I liked about it was the attention to detail to science and the fact that it was recently written meaning most of the scientific facts stated in the book are not outdated or disproved.

wallfloweronNov 27, 2017

If you read the science fiction series "The Three-Body Problem" (highly recommended), it makes a very compelling argument that fundamental research is the most important investment in the future.

For example, fusion drives, not traditional stored rocket propellant engines, will be necessary to navigate between planets and the outer solar system. Also, existing known behaviors/laws of physics aside, the book posits that colonization of other planets/stars in the universe requires achieving light speed travel (along with hibernation technology).

However, the other argument the book series makes is that there needs to be a strong motivator to get all the countries and economies of the world to focus on fundamental research and applying it.

mercutio2onJuly 13, 2018

Wow! You managed to juxtapose my favorite and least favorite science fiction. I’ve never read anything bad by Vernor Vinge.

I could not find a single thing to like about The Three Body Problem. I’ve heard it gets better after the first book, but I loathed the first book so thoroughly I wasn’t willing to try any more.

What did you like about it? It seemed like there was practically zero plot, and the science bits seemed unconvincing.

ternonJan 27, 2021

I once went on a bit of a journey to find "realistic" novels about AI and outside of Superintelligence (which I enjoyed reading as if it were a novel) and The Age of Em, Excession is one of the best I found. Still, nowhere close—I eventually concluded that truly imagining artificial intelligence in a way that would make for a compelling narrative is mostly impossible.

Others include:

- Accelerando

- A Fire Upon the Deep

- Permutation City

- Daemon

So far, the only sci-fi novel that meets the level of rigor I was looking for—albeit about aliens rather than AI—is The Three Body Problem.

hackuseronAug 9, 2015

Did you read The Dark Forest in Chinese? What about The Three Body Problem?

I read the latter in English. I wonder how much of the sometimes tediously long exposition and ham-handed language was due to translation.

nkzednanonNov 30, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

Red Rising and sequels by Pierce Brown

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

(I read Three Body Problem + sequels in 2016. The first book I thought was ok. I really liked the second book - The Dark Forest - the Dark Forest theory of the universe I thought was quite interesting)

adt2btonDec 22, 2016

I've read and listened to ~30 books this year, below are the ones I recommend.

Audiobooks (Audible):

Food: A Cultural Culinary History - The Great Courses (if you've ever searched for 'authentic' food, I strongly, strongly recommend this book. It was one of my favorite listening experiences of the year)

City of Thieves - David Benioff (Wonderful storytelling, I recommend the audio version just for the performance)

The Elephant Whisperer - Lawrence Anthony (Another example of great storytelling, highly recommended)

Little Princes - Conor Grennan (Conor does a good job of teleporting you to another world and capturing the inner spirit of being a child anywhere in the world)

The Inner Game of Tennis - Timothy Gallwey (A great paradigm for practice and improvement)


Man's Search for Meaning - Viktor Frankl (For some, this will be life changing. ~3 hour read is all)

Tools of Titans - Tim Ferriss (I've only read through one time, but I plan to use this as a sort of reference book. I agree true that you'll enjoy 50%, love 20% and never forget 10%, but what falls under each category is different for everyone)

The Three Body Problem - Liu Cixin (I haven't read any sci-fi in a few years, this was a great reentry to the genre for me)

The Food Lab - J Kenji Lopez-Alt (If you want to know the why as well as the how when you cook, this book is for you)

thatcherconMay 24, 2018

If you're interested in more of the (fictional) uses and problems presented by this technology, you might enjoy reading Cixin Liu's The Dark Forest, which makes some use of hibernation in its plot. It is the sequel to The Three Body Problem, a hard sci-fi book that would probably be enjoyed by a lot of HNers.

banmeagaindan2onMar 28, 2020

This forum is littered with a sea of such articles.

There is a high risk of riots in Europe and the USA - everybody being advised to wear masks - articles like these are a tone deaf response and we are living in much more dangerous times than most of our leaders realize.

Not for nothing the Horsemen come in a variety pack of 4.

I would like an ecology of rightists, leftists and liberals because to me that is what brings out the best in the West - but if we have a monoculture of any faction we are lost - and China knows that. There are even Straussian books like The Three Body Problem written about it.

edurenonJuly 26, 2017

'Salems Lot by Stephen King. Just got done with his memoir/writing guide "On Writing" and it's given me a new appreciation for his style. Currently going back and reading the books of his that I missed in middle school.

The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. First book I'm reading on a Kindle, so not yet sure how that will effect my perception of the novel (it is helpful for footnotes I've found). Absolutely fresh SciFi is rare these days so it's wonderful so far.

elorantonSep 8, 2019

Because we don't always like awarded books. I read "The Three Body Problem" a couple of years ago which had won a Nebula award and found it to be mediocre at best and much overhyped. Last year I read the "Neuromancer" which had won both a Nebula and a Hugo and was for me one of the worst SF books I've ever read. And then there are books which are brilliant, but have never won an award, like "The Martian".

chrisherdonDec 12, 2018

- The Prince (get's a bad press, thought provoking)

- Apex [Nexus 3] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Factfulness (Awesome, most important book I read this year)

- Prisoners of Geography (why nations act the way they do)

- Crux [Nexus 2] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Debt: the first 5000 years (slog to get through but interesting)

- Nexus [Nexus 1] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Digitocracy (super short story, super powerful message)

- Artemis (Not as good as the martian)

- Before Mars (Starts out great, fizzles out)

- Down and Out in Magic Kingdom (How reputation based social currency might pan out)

- Blood Sweat and Pixels (How games are really made)

- Masters of Doom (Awesome story of how the game was made and what it led to)

- Foundation [Foundation 1] (Prescient with where the world is, what might happen in reality)

- Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can't... (Ok, not great, read it on blinkist)

- Ender's Game (Under rated, most fun I had reading this year, I know...)

- Neuromancer (classic, must read)

- Pre-suation (interesting and worth reading if starting a consumer facing business)

- The Three-Body Problem (Found it tedious, honestly. Interesting though)

- Radical Candour (A lot of common sense advice we take for granted and could do better with)

- Seveneves (Longggggg, but really worth it. Shame about the ending)

- The Virgin Banker (Really good read, how a bank came into being)

- Why information grows (Great read, could of been half the length, would recommend)

- Babylon Revisited (Meh)

- Money: the Unauthorised Biography (Simplistic history of money before and after coin. Good)

- Hellbent (Enjoyed it, good for a holiday read)

- Snow Crash (Classic, Awesome, read it)

- The little prince (must read)

- To Pixar and Beyond (A different viewpoint on Jobs)

kyriakosonFeb 27, 2019

Sounds like a lot of scientist have been reading the Three Body Problem.

I think we should worry more about AI taking over rather than aliens. Its actually much closer to home. On the other hand the only alien intelligence which has the luxury of interstellar travel is the one which has no sense of time and that would be alien AI again.

the__alchemistonJuly 23, 2021

I agree, re The Three Body Problem. It's a fun story, but not hard sci-fi in the way Stephenson etc are. I also enjoyed the dive into mid-century communist China - it was a jarring, immersive journey into living-memory history I hadn't learned about before.

I think Diamond Age was my favorite overall Stephenson story in terms of both story and neat scifi concepts, but all of them were enjoyable. I agree on Seveneves chars all being forgettable. Dodge (The most recent one) had perhaps the dullest start, but I really liked the Dodge, Corvis, and Daisy characters.

xhrpostonDec 12, 2018

The Obstacle is the Way (somewhat encouraging)

The Art of Empathy (very interesting)

The Three Body Problem (good)

The Startup Way (decent)

The Politics of Bitcoin (short but interesting)

Why We Sleep (very much worth it)

The Last Arrow (mixed feelings)

The Prize (boring but informative)

Superhuman by Habit (OK, not much new)

The Circle of Profit (straight to the point)

Thinking in Systems (couldn't finish it)

Radical Candor (awesome)

Harry Potter #1 (too low of a reading level)

Man's Search for Meaning (classic)

Flow (Amazing!)

Scary Close (great)

FaaakonAug 18, 2018

Your idea is actually used in "the three body problem" trilogy.

If you like that sort of sci-fi, read the book; it's worth it !

bmc7505onSep 1, 2018

Qin Shi Huang lifted the sword to the sky, and shouted: “Computer Formation!” Four giant bronze cauldrons at the corners of the platform came to life simultaneously with roaring flames. A group of soldiers standing on the sloping side of the pyramid facing the phalanx chanted in unison: “Computer Formation!”

On the ground below, colors in the phalanx began to shift and move. Complicated and detailed circuit patterns appeared and gradually filled the entire formation. Ten minutes later, the army had made a thirty-six kilometer square computer motherboard…

“This is really interesting,” Qin Shi Huang said, pointing to the spectacular sight. “Each individual’s behavior is so simple, yet together, they can produce such a complex, great whole! Europeans criticize me for my tyrannical rule, claiming that I suppress creativity. But in reality, a large number of men yoked by severe discipline can also produce great wisdom when bound together as one.”

—Cixin Liu, The Three Body Problem (2008)

fao_onJuly 13, 2018

The Three Body Problem is one of my main reasons for learning Chinese :)

Vernor Vinge single handedly became one of my favourite writers (along side Clarke and Lem) with his short story True Names. I didn't find Rainbow's End as easy a read, I'll probably reapproach it after finishing The Star Diaries or Snow Crash, though.

beatonApr 15, 2019

Yep, that's it! I'm just blown away by this book (and The Three Body Problem), and really looking forward to the next one in the trilogy.

Along the same technical lines, have you read A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge? I love the idea of "programmer-archeologist" on a 5000 year old spaceship.

madeuptempacctonDec 12, 2018

Book: The Three Body Problem

It's highly praised here. The characters are very dry and boring to me, not sure if it's the translation. I genuinely did not care about a single one of them. Neal Stephenson did something similar as he became famous - stopped writing novels and tried to pass off his futurism as such, which is interesting, but not an exciting story. That was the case here. I can't even bring myself to read the second book.

Also, all the higher/lower dimensional space sort-of-scientific stuff is pretty speculative. Or I don't understand enough science.

In other words, my expectations were too high and I was disappointed.

Book: A Deepness in the Sky

Enjoyed this. The characters were more alive. Nothing amazing about it though, not captivated enough to read sequel.

ThePhysicistonAug 9, 2015

Warning, spoilers below.

I recently finished the first book of the "The Tree Body Problem" series (the second one will be translated to English soon) and I really enjoyed the beginning and middle part of it, which are packed with interesting scientific ideas and an intricate and captivating plot. Towards the end the book tends to become a lot more unrealistic and even a bit "cheesy" though. An example would be the hyper-dimensional computers that the Trisolarians send to Earth to hinder our scientific progress. Still, it is a very good read and packed with fascinating ideas that will make you think.

Another example of very good contemporary science fiction is Ramez Naam's "Nexus Arc" series of books, which I actually liked much better than the Three-Body Problem, and which are a bit more plausible and realistic as well.

wangiionAug 9, 2015

"The Three Body Problem" is a nice book, but far from great. However, the 2nd instalment, "The Dark Forest" is going to blow your mind. It's the best sci-fi book ever written in Chinese, and IMHO the best since Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. I have long doubted if any Chinese could write a great Sci-fi. It's such a pleasure proven to be wrong!

lghhonDec 16, 2019

Leisure Stuff:

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga Of Oklahoma City, It's Chaotic Founding... by Sam Anderson

Midnight In Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham

Dune by Frank Herbert

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu (tried it this year and stopped, want to give it another go)

Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang (just finished Exhalation and I think it's great)

An Ursula K. Le Guin novel, have not picked one out yet

A book related to basketball (possibly Dream Team, but IDK yet)

Less Leisure Stuff:

Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform by John Pfaff

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

The End Of Policing by Alex S Vitale

Either Manufacturing Consent or Understanding Power by Chomsky

The Annotated Turing by Charles Petzold


Code Complete 2 by Steve McConnell

The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws by Dafydd Stuttard, Marcus Pinto

Finish Writing An Interpreter In Go by Thorsten Ball

If I can get through all of these, I will be very pleased. Throw in a book or two at recommendation from friends and I think I'm full for the year.

MikhoonNov 21, 2017

The first thought looking at the picture -- it could be interstellar probe created by some alien race. Rotation and metal body -- something to think about. This reminds me "The Dark Forest Theory" described in the fantastic trilogy "The Three-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu [1] -- Chinese Isaac Asimov. Really great read in case you didn't read it yet.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Three-Body-Problem-Cixin-Liu/dp/07653...

careersuicideonJan 2, 2017

I realize the topic says "book" not "books" but I've got two:

"Hard-Core: Life of My Own" by Harley Flanagan

I've been a huge fan of the Cro-Mags for a long long time. I've had the extreme pleasure of seeing them about eight times now. But never with Harley. And until I read this book I never really knew why he wasn't there. I mean, you hear people talk, but they weren't there, they don't know what went down. This book is an absolute must read for anyone who has even a passing interest in punk. It's a look into the life of one of the most colorful and talented musicians the genre has produced. It's written in a very casual conversational style and consists mostly of string of anecdotes told from Harley's point of view as he's remembering his life from his toddler years up until early 2016. Even if New York Hardcore isn't really your thing I still highly recommend it. He manages to capture in a very raw and visceral way the NYHC era he is largely responsible for ushering in. And if you've never heard "The Age of Quarrel" pause whatever you're listening to now and go find it on YouTube or something.

"The Dark Forest" by Cixin Liu

I would include the first book in this series, "The Three-Body Problem", but I read that in December of 2015. All I want to say about this series of books is that you should go into them without knowing anything. Don't read a plot synopsis. Don't even read the little blurb on Amazon product page. Someone recommended I go into it blind, only telling me "It's good.", and I'm so glad I did just that. The moment you find out what the title is referring to gave me goosebumps.

jger15onJuly 15, 2018

"Chocky" by John Wyndham was quick/fun. A little uneven but enjoyed "All Our Wrongs Today" by Elan Mastai. Tough to get thru for me but many seem high on "The Three Body Problem" books by Cixin Liu.

Some others that are not scifi but enjoyed this year:

"Trick" by Domenico Starnone

"Such Small Hands" by Andres Barba

"Convenience Store Woman" by Sayaka Murata

pseudobryonJuly 30, 2021

I recently finished The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest, which explore the concept of aliens using their super advanced technology to mess with the results of Earth's particle accelerators, thereby stopping humanity's ability to develop technology based on new physics.

Is this discovery exciting? Or are we living in The Three-Body Problem?

boulosonFeb 7, 2021

If there's anyone out there that has read the trilogy in both the original Mandarin as well as the English translations, I'd love to get their take on the effect of translation.

If I remember correctly, I found The Three Body Problem super pleasant to read and engaging. By contrast, I liked the idea of Dark Forest but found it almost painful to read. The chapters were strangely broken up (some extremely long, etc.) and so on. Back to Death's End and the "writing" improved again.

So was it the swap of the translators? Is Ken Liu's translation for Books 1 and 3 just more amenable to my western sensibility, or is Book 2 really just quite different, even in the original?

kraftmanonJuly 24, 2018

H is for Hawk:

I gave up reading this book about halfway through. It drags out a lot with needless fluff; she spent about 3 pages just naming the bird! She seemed to really hate T.H. White's 'The Goshawk' so I decided to give it a read. I much preferred it (he names his bird in one sentence) and felt she'd read between the lines much more than there was in the book.

The three body problem:

This is a brilliant book until the end, which basically solves all of the interesting problems it's been building up to throughout the book with 'magic supercomputers that can do anything!', which is a shame because it had me hooked.

throw1234651234onJuly 23, 2021

Neal Stephenson's earlier work has "more soul" - Snow Crash / Diamond Age actually has characters you care about and like, his later novels get increasingly more abstract, though even better in the technical sense. I think the only character I remember from Seveneves is the cannibal leader, that's it.

"A Deepness in the Sky" was REALLY good. The Forever War was good for the concept.

In short, yours looks like a great list I will come back to, thank you.

However, I do strongly dislike Remembrance of Earth's Past / The Three Body Problem - it's vastly overrated in my opinion and the characters make no sense. The best part of it was the intro to the first book which gave an interesting glimpse at history.

exanimo_saionJune 22, 2020

The books I always fall back on giving as a gift:

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
A superintelligence is a hypothetical agent that possesses intelligence far surpassing that of the brightest and most gifted human minds.

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
A modern classic, Einstein’s Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, when he worked in a patent office in Switzerland. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds.

Remembrance of Earth's Past by Cixin Liu
It is hard to explain how deep my love for this series is. My all time favorite science fiction but what it is is just page after page of ideas that get more and more fantastical. Can't recommend this enough

The Three Body Problem (PartI)
The Dark Forest (Part II)
Death's End (Part III)

jfe1234onSep 10, 2019

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, and the other two in the trilogy too. Hard, but accessible. I've never read a series so dense with cool and believable ideas that are unlike much I had come across before.

The Reality Dysfunction by Pete F. Hamilton (and the rest of the series). If you want something a bit more traditional in form. More sex, violence and so on.

Ach, loads of others. Roadside Picnic really stuck with me too. Though might not be what most people would call 'hard sci-fi', not sure.

revelonFeb 5, 2019

The comparison between The Three Body Problem series and some of Le Guin's books is interesting because the two authors have such wildly different strengths and weaknesses. I love them both but, purely in terms of writing, there is absolutely no comparison. Le Guin is one of the all time greats .

Just to be clear, I liked the 3BP series a lot. The books are generally paced well and there's just about the right amount of world building. However, the long expository monologues break up the flow. It's a shame because it's a great story and he tells it well. Those who have read the books will recognize his over reliance on on a particularly lazy storytelling device to introduce ideas which I can best summarize as follows: "here is this idea and this is why it's important and here's all the nuances to it so then this next idea came about and this is why it's important." That's bad writing. Making the characters academics so that Liu Cixuin can dress up his ideas as "theories" in this way is wholly unconvincing and, as you said, amateurish.

By contrast, Le Guin is masterful at weaving her ideas into the narrative of the story. Ideas are not introduced as standalone concepts and then referenced by the story. Instead, they are woven into the fabric of the story itself. This makes the ideas more compelling and keeps the narrative brisk and interesting. On the other hand, Le Guin often spends far too much time world building. The Left Hand of Darkness is one of my favorite books, but the first half of the book plods on rather painfully. The second half feels like a reward for slogging through the first half.

Not sure if you've read The Dispossessed but I think it's better than TLHOD. It still has a bit too much world building in the first half but it's a tighter and more compactly told tale. Her most tightly told tale is probably The Lathe of Heaven. That book was incredible and I think it showcases her literary skill better than some of her more famous books. Definitely check it out some time if you liked her other work.

ArubisonDec 22, 2016

Necessarily an incomplete list, because I haven't kept close track. 2016 was busy and much of what I read was programming language related, which I will exclude here.

In no particular order...

Cixin Liu -- The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest. Good read, as you'll see on everyone else's list.

Neal Stephenson -- Seveneves. Really good but arguably his weakest in some time; I wish the first three-quarters of the book were shorter and the final quarter a book in and of itself.

Cal Newport -- So Good They Can't Ignore You. I found this longer than necessary but an excellent kick in the pants.

Marcus Aurelius -- Meditations. Feels like a good "life reference" rather than a straight-through read.

Roald Dahl -- Boy, Going Solo. These were fun when I first went through them years ago, and they still _are_ fun, but the lens through which I view live has become one increasingly allergic to entitlement, and boy, if you want entitlement, look to the Brits at the end of the imperialist era.

Ed Catmull -- Creativity, Inc. Read this for work. Enjoyable but ehh.

Peter Tompkins -- The Secret Life of Plants (unfinished). I tried but couldn't get past the rampant bad science.

Steve Martin -- Born Standing Up. This was a fun profile of a comic that I appreciate; if you're already a fan it's worthwhile, otherwise skip it.

Derek Sivers -- Anything You Want. You can blow through this in a day and you should.

Worth highlighting, my most influential read this year:

Tara Brach -- Radical Acceptance. I loved this. No: I _needed_ this. Rather than the many philosophy-influenced books you'll find in this thread that are really business books with new buzzwords, this is just about loving yourself and building on that to live life fully. This will not (at least directly) help you build a startup. This will (directly) help you build important relationships.

rdlonDec 7, 2015

Is The Three-Body Problem worth reading?

evo_9onJune 22, 2019

The Wandering Earth is a terrible film. If my wife wasn’t Chinese and really wanted to see it through I would have stopped it 30 minutes into it and that is something I’ve only done a few times ever.

The Three-Body Problem Is a pretty good book at times and could translate well with a big budget. Looking forward to seeing it.

silencioonAug 3, 2017

I adore NK Jemisin so much, the awards are all so deserved! It was particularly nice that she won the Hugo in the midst of all the drama, too.

Another author I want to throw out there, is Liu Cixin - his novel The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo for Best Novel the year prior. Not a woman, but scifi from a vastly different cultural/racial angle than a lot of us are accustomed to, I would imagine.

markus_zhangonAug 4, 2021

Try "The Three-Body Problem". It opened my eyes when I first read it, and every re-read still mesmerized me. The original text is in Chinese but the translation to English was done very well.

It's a trilogy in three books. If you are not sure, just purchase the first one. But I bet you would regret about only purchasing the first one.

searineonNov 1, 2016

I really enjoyed The Three-Body Problem/The Dark Forest/Death's End and highly recommend them because of their unusual ideas.

It was also refreshing to read a book coming from totally different cultural mindset that goes after familiar sci-fi goals.

We all have biases and failures in our perspective, and it was interesting read a novel where the authors biases were so different from my own. Liu seemed bipolar in his treatment of women for example. Half the women presented felt vibrant (Ye Wenjie for example) while others, such as Luo Ji's perfect wife were fanfiction quality.

Overall, the ideas presented in The Three Body Problem and The Dark Forest are thought-provoking enough to recommend these books. Death's End on the other hand, was mediocre but worth a read just to finish the series.

sshineonSep 5, 2015

Just finished:

— Roadside Picnic, by the Strugatsky brothers. The very thematic Soviet sci-fi behind STALKER.

— The Cyberiad, by Stanislaw Lem. A brilliant collection of short stories on language, philosophy, futurism.


— Nexus, by Ramez Naam (book 1 of 3). Nanobots meet augmented reality, transhumanism. Good.

— Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut. Hilarious stuff.

— Poe's collected works.


The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu. I have my hopes high.

CountSessineonAug 9, 2015

SPOILERS - don't read unless you've read the book:

I read the book earlier this year and I loved it. One thing I had been thinking about though was the carbon nanotube wire and the ship.

Single-atom-thick wires used as knives have shown up in science-fiction before. In Ringworld, for example, a character is decapitated when they run into a nano-wire strung across a path.

In The Three Body Problem, I don't think you could ever 'cut' metal like that with carbon nanotubes - you'd have to overcome the cumulative bonding energies of all of those iron atoms in the ship and I doubt even the ship's engines running at full blast could push hard enough to do that. And that's assuming that a string of nanotubes has the strength to resist all of that tension. Apparently carbon nanotubes can resist about 100000N of tensile force (about a 10000kg weight in earth's gravity), so perhaps it wouldn't break - but I doubt that the metal in the ship would cleave, either.

Is there anyone who knows more about chemistry/solid state physics/materials science to comment?

IvonAug 7, 2017

1) I don't see what is immutable about this logic. Next to the "people who enjoyed that also enjoyed..." list there could be a "to go a bit deeper..." or "books referenced by this book or author..."

2) The problem is in "enough". People who will want to read about that book are only a niche and will never be more numerous than people who simply bought the part II and III of the Three Body Problem (it is a trilogy). The author here really points out an unaddressed problem.

3) Another argument to make a separate "book referenced by this book/author"

pampaonDec 20, 2020

That is almost like the decription from "The Three Body Problem" how the aliens in the three star system handled winter. I wonder if there is an asian folk tale that might be the basis for both.

shmageggyonJuly 25, 2018

I'm going to go against the grain here regarding The Three Body Problem, not because it's a bad book, but because it fails to live up to its billing in a subtle but disappointing way. The book is often touted as a "hard sci fi" masterpiece, and to me (and wikipedia and most definitions I've seen), "hard" means remaining faithful to the boundaries of plausible physics. T3BP almost entirely respects these limits, even while exploring daring and fascinating ideas, but (without spoiling anything) the author does make one very common concession. It's disappointing because he does so well otherwise that it feels very authentic and convincing. Then when the violation is revealed, it totally spoils the illusion and feels like such a let down.

PharmakononFeb 3, 2019

From Lou Cixin’s ‘The Three-Body Problem’ the “Shooter and Farmer” metaphor seems relevant here.

“In the shooter hypothesis, a good marksman shoots at a target, creating a hole every ten centimeters. Now suppose the surface of the target is inhabited by intelligent, two-dimensional creatures. Their scientists, after observing the universe, discover a great law: “There exists a hole in the universe every ten centimeters.” They have mistaken the result of the marksman’s momentary whim for an unalterable law of the universe. The farmer hypothesis, on the other hand, has the flavor of a horror story: Every morning on a turkey farm, the farmer comes to feed the turkeys. A scientist turkey, having observed this pattern to hold without change for almost a year, makes the following discovery: “Every morning at eleven, food arrives.” On the morning of Thanksgiving, the scientist announces this law to the other turkeys. But that morning at eleven, food doesn’t arrive; instead, the farmer comes and kills the entire flock.”

A counterpoint to such an observation is that ideally, scientists understand that they’re working with imperfect and incomplete information. It’s still hard to see the universe from a perspective you don’t inhabit though.

CapmCrackaWakaonJuly 14, 2021

Reminds me of a short story by Liu Cixin, the author of the Three Body Problem. In it, a character discovers that, as a result of 11 dimensional string space, there is a finite number of possible initial configurations to the Big Bang, each one resulting in a deterministic universe with its own distinct combination of fundamental constants (speed of light, Coulomb’s constant, pi, etc.). He explores this quite a bit. It’s pure sci-fi, but fun to read.

mojoeonJuly 13, 2018

Not op, but I'm a big fan of both authors. I enjoy Vinge more, but I wouldn't say his science is any more plausible than Liu Cixin's (with the exception of "A Deepness in the Sky"). I actually enjoyed "The Dark Forest" and "Death's End" more than the Three Body Problem. All three books have some fun, novel ideas. While the plot arc is not very traditional, it is complex and interesting -- lots of characters with vastly different motivations interacting in interesting ways. The main plot driver over all three books (that the universe is a dark forest) is highly plausible.

geoahonNov 21, 2018

Recently is a very relevant term, and honestly I'm not sure it matters much as.

I'll answer mostly to the "thought provoking part" of your question.

* Egan, Greg - Permutation City, Diaspora, and basically everything

* Liu, Cixin - The Three Body Problem (trilogy)

* Rajaniemi, Hannu - Jean le Flambeur (trilogy)

* Watts, Peter - Firefall (series)

* Chiang, Ted - The Lifecycle of Software Objects

* Liu, Cixin - The Wandering Earth (short stories)

I know quite a few people in love with Neal Stephenson, but I can't really muster his style.
Check out Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age.

BigProofOfStakeonJuly 29, 2021

Sounds like someone just wrapped up their reading of The Three Body Problem series.

fossuseronApr 29, 2019

I'm currently reading the Three Body Problem by the Chinese Science Fiction writer Liu Cixin.

It starts right in the middle of the cultural revolution and does not paint the party in a positive light. It'd be interesting to know why this wasn't censored.

I heard something about China being excellent at manufacturing, but having trouble with creating new industries and President Xi noticed that in the west those creating new industries often liked and were inspired by Scifi.

I wonder if this gives Chinese science fiction authors a free pass? It'd be interesting to hear the perspective from someone who knows more about the culture.

The beginning of the book touches explicitly on the removal of professors that disagree with the party.

careersuicideonFeb 1, 2016

What a timely coincidence. I just finished reading Cixin Lui's "The Dark Forest" (it and the first book in the series "The Three-Body Problem" I cannot recommend enough). I think the central premise of the book is probably the worst of the possible reasons we haven't found anyone else out there...

"The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost, gently pushing aside branches that block the path and trying to tread without sound. Even breathing is done with care. The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life—another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod—there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them. In this forest, hell is other people. An eternal threat that any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. This is the picture of cosmic civilization. It’s the explanation for the Fermi Paradox."

FishysouponAug 31, 2020

It definitely is on the part of would-be tyrants, but a popular shift to it is due to perceived failures. There's a really cool quote from the (second book of?) the Three Body Problem, which goes something like "alone in the emptiness of space, fascism becomes everyone's first resort".

Note that I do not think we were doing that badly before Trump and other authoritarians. It's just that a lot of people perceived the world was getting dangerous for them (probably because it became more inclusive, and also because they watch Fox news).

fitzroyonDec 23, 2018

Fates and Furies - Lauren Groff
Brilliant. It's considered "literary fiction" but I found this book to be an absolute page-turner, much more so than what is usually described as a "page-turner". The summaries / back-cover marketing copy can't do it justice.

Florida - Lauren Groff
Sublime, poetic, haunting collection of short stories.

Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang
Exhalation - Ted Chiang
Being released in May 2019 (I got an advance copy), but many of the stories are previously published and/or available online. "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" is just wonderful. Ted Chiang's work is the definition of economy in storytelling. Absolutely quality over quantity.

The Three Body Problem, The Dark Forest, Death's End - Liu Cixin
I’m not sure how fulfilling it would be to just read the first one. They really feel like a single (big) novel. Worth it.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O - Neal Stephenson, Nicole Galland
Kind of Stephenson-light(?). Smart, entertaining and seems destined to be a TV series.

The Secret History - Donna Tartt
A bit slow to get going. Lots of Greek, snow, and booze at a private liberal-arts college in Vermont.

The Grownup - Gillian Flynn (short story)

schwartzworldonAug 15, 2020

The Three Body Problem is beyond bad. It's the softest "Hard" SF I've ever read and when I finally got to the reveal I got really angry. The characters are flat, the story is stupid and the ideas are hackneyed. Even the title is specifically wrong, as there are no 3 body systems referenced anywhere in the book (Trisolaris is a 4 body system, 5 if you count it's moon)

The story starts out promisingly enough with moving scene set during the Cultural Revolution, but quickly loses steam. The initial premise of "the laws of physics are changing" quickly devolves into "magic aliens", probably the least interesting SF tropr there is.

Honestly it's like someone who doesn't like SF tried to write an SF novel. Really makes me question the Hugo award.

Most of the positive reviews I read online seem either fake or like the reader was very unfamiliar with the genre.

jcofflandonAug 12, 2017

I just finished reading The Three Body Problem and I can't help thinking that we could send signals that would reach these planets in 40 years, we could get a response in 80 and if we could achieve c/10 we could get there in something like 500 years depending on acceleration.

Quekid5onSep 11, 2019

Re: Fiction.

The really good fiction doesn't always have the conclusion at the end -- you just think that that's the conclusion. Of course this presupposes that there's a sequel that the reader is not aware of just quite yet. (The sequel may not even exist yet, but if the author's narrative extends far enough into the future then you can get that feel.)

I think a decent example of this is the Three-Body Problem, although the first one does have a sort of abrupt ending. A weaker example would be Banks' Culture novels, but that was more about there being a whole world out there -- the actual narrative did usually just end at the end of the book.

dempseyeonJan 3, 2019

The trisolarian plot in Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem also seems to have borrowed from this myth.

yablakonMar 18, 2021

Didn't I read about this in The Three-Body Problem?

renjimenonDec 16, 2019

Some good ones on in your leisure list that I have really enjoyed recently!

I also took two attempts for The Three Body Problem. Gotta say, I don’t understand the hype. Maybe something was lost in translation but it seems like another poorly written SF novel carried by a few interesting ideas. Not in the same league as Dune, Ursula Le Guin or some of Ted Chiang’s shorts.

sidmitraonJuly 11, 2018

It's a reference to the sci-fi book The three body problem by Liu Cixin[1]. In that ta mysterious game about an alien planet where its population can be dehydrated to survive harsh conditions which could last millenia, and then re-hydrated when the conditions are right.

Although i think the terms hydrate-dehydrate are not unheard of in tech stacks for example in a django REST framework called tastypie to denote serialization-deserialization of data.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three-Body_Problem_(novel)

beatonMar 28, 2019

Ah, but does it? China is currently going through a period of peace and incredible growth (per capita income has grown about 130x since 1960, in constant dollars). The people are safe, secure, and enjoying opportunities their grandparents couldn't even imagine.

And I suspect that if you polled in China, you'd find a majority agree with the regulations on speech, and sincerely so (not saying yes out of fear). Meanwhile, things are much freer than they were. I'm currently reading a Chinese novel, The Three Body Problem, set partly in the Cultural Revolution, and it pulls no punches about how awful it was.

exhilarationonAug 8, 2017

Hey, the article mentions HN-favorite Ken Liu, author of the Three-Body Problem.

ledzep2onFeb 16, 2015

The Three-body Problem. It raises the bar of sci-fi literature in China.


aerophiliconJan 14, 2019

One thing I really appreciated about the three body problem (Liu Cixin), was the “completely different perspective” brought to bear. I feel to often with (American) science fiction, you have well known and “expected” themes. What will be interesting is how much further they can go. I personally prefer a “wealth” of perspectives, and you can only get that if people are coming from different cultures.

schwartzworldonJuly 27, 2020

I had a really tough time with the Three Body Problem. The first chapter is so strong and then it goes downhill from there.

It straddles subgenres, like the author thinks that all science fiction needs to be Hard SF, but has never actually read hard SF. You can leave things unexplained in speculative fiction, but if you're going to explain them, at least make the explanations sound plausible to a lay-person like me.

Nevermind the fact that nothing in the story has to do with a 3-body system or the 3-body problem. It is referenced in name, but the author botches that too.

The characters are so flat, you can't even call them 2-dimensional with the exception of the cop, who btw has the magic gift of always being able to outthink a roomful of scientists. The other characters are so interchangeable I had to take notes to remember who was who.

I tell friends to avoid this book at all costs. When the big reveal came, I got so angry I threw the book on the floor, left the room and debated finishing it at all. The setup is so intriguing and the reveal is so hackneyed, unpredictable only because who would choose to write something so mundane?

breckonJuly 27, 2016

I thought it was entertaining but also wouldn't recommend it unless I think someone would enjoy the nostalgic bits.

One newer sci-fi trilogy I would highly recommend is The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin. The writing is a bit different but if you get over that the ideas are really novel and the story is epic and gripping. The Dark Forest (Book 2), in particular is one of my favorite sci-fi stories of all time. My Chinese coworkers all raved about the triology and for good reason. Note: the first and second book are out but the third's English translation is coming this fall (I am eagerly awaiting it).

aksssonMay 22, 2021

Well just think about all the times in history where religious culture has the upper hand, or anti-communism, or communism. To me it doesn’t matter what the dogma of the day is, the behavior of loud elements in society shouting down free expression, or unorthodox thought, is pretty repugnant. It’s not as simple as saying society is just expressing displeasure. That’s fine, but I think we can all see a different beast rising up here in the US lately that is historically recognizable. Read the opening of The Three Body Problem - that shit was real, and those social movements are a liability for any culture as it’s part of human behavior. There’s nothing exceptional about the US that prevents our society from falling victim to political cults.

techwraithonNov 8, 2017

Haven't they read The Three-Body Problem?

rebuilderonJuly 25, 2018

I have to say, I just didn't "get" The Three Body Problem. I got the impression I was reading an allegory I didn't have the cultural background to understand - so much of the surface plot seemed like it must have some important meaning but I couldn't decipher it. It was an odd experience, but maybe the translation of words wasn't enough in this case for me to get the content.

weavejesteronMar 29, 2020

It's been a while since I read it, and I only completed the first two books, but there are a few issues I recall having. Spoilers ahead, obviously.

The most glaring issue I remember was how the countries of Earth were essentially a united front for 450 years. They came up with a single plan - and a very strange one at that - and then carried it out for the next half-millenia with little dissent or deviation. Given the author of the book is Chinese, this struck like a plot element that's ideological in nature - the ruling class can't be seen as bickering or divided.

The only people opposed to this were effectively a death cult dedicated to wiping out humanity in the strange hope that a race of genocidal aliens would somehow be better custodians of our planet. While I imagine that there would be some people who felt this way, it strained belief that the alien sympathisers would be so organised and competant.

I'm usually pretty forgiving of novels with weak characterisation but interesting situations, but I didn't think the Three Body Problem succeeded in this aspect either. Obvious solutions were passed up or not discussed, for example, if there are only a few sophons on Earth and they can't travel faster than the speed of light, why not build many particle accelerators and perform experiments simultaneously? The final twist was also pretty heavily hinted at throughout the novels, so the latter half of the second book was just a case of waiting when it would be revealed. Frankly it could have been carried a lot sooner as well - why wait a century for verification when it costs nothing to call the alien's bluff immediately?

The books felt like the author had an idea that would have worked well for a short story that was expanded to the length of two novels. In a short story a lot of the details could have been glossed over, but when expanded out the author was forced to explain the intermediate steps.

JachonDec 13, 2018

In reverse chronological order..

The Earth is Enough (recommended if you like trout fishing)

Clean Code (recommended if you want to invigorate your desire to write better code, there was a lot to both agree and disagree with though for me anyway)

Game Engine Black Book: Wolfenstein 3D (recommend if you want to study the details of an early 3d game engine, or details about the 386 that made it so hard to do games with)

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid (this is the first manga series I've read, because I was obsessed by the anime for a while and wanted more, so would only recommend if you like the anime)

Land of Lisp (only recommended if you want a fun sort of scheme-ish style approach to seeing some of the features of common lisp in a simple mostly text based games setting)

The Age of Em (recommend if you want a careful and detailed analysis of what a possible future looks like should humans get mind uploading technology)

A Critique of Democracy (recommended if you want to have a chance of winning bar arguments, not the best for deeper thinking)

The End of Eternity (fun sci-fi from Asimov)

The Three-Body Problem (book 1 of (I found out after starting (again)) 3 -- good enough that I'll read the next two, but not good enough that I had to go out and get the second book immediately like other series I've read)

Beyond Happiness (meh, wouldn't recommend)

Ninefox Gambit (book 1 of (I found out after starting) 3 -- if you like "armchair playing war" sci-fi you'll probably like this more than me, but I'll get and finish the next two books at some point)

More detailed short thoughts + older reads if desired: https://gist.github.com/Jach/1610886 Maybe I'll wrap up one of the several in-progress ones before the month is out, too.

kirubakaranonDec 22, 2016

Here is my full bookshelf: http://www.kirubakaran.com/books-read.html

Books Read in 2016:

1. The Recursive Universe: Cosmic Complexity and the Limits of Scientific Knowledge
- Poundstone, William

2. My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos
- Schechter, Bruce

3. One Summer: America, 1927
- Bryson, Bill

4. The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past, #1)
- Liu, Cixin

5. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit
- Godin, Seth

6. At Home: A Short History of Private Life
- Bryson, Bill

7. Kings of Kings (Hardcore History, #56-58)
- Carlin, Dan

8. Blueprint for Armageddon (Hardcore History #50-55)
- Carlin, Dan

9. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal
- Klaff, Oren

10. William Shakespeare: The World as Stage
- Bryson, Bill

11. So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
- Newport, Cal

12. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles
- Pressfield, Steven

13. In a Sunburned Country
- Bryson, Bill

14. Cannery Row
- Steinbeck, John

15. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
- Weinberg, Gabriel

16. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World
- Newport, Cal

17. Starship Troopers
- Heinlein, Robert A.

18. No Touch Monkey!: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late
- Halliday, Ayun

aaron695onAug 9, 2015

Warning this review is quite spoloilery on his books.

What I found most interesting with the first novel 'The Three-Body Problem' was it to me shows an immature view to science by the Chinese.

This is assuming I'm guessing correctly how this book sits with the public and scientific community there. Maybe it's not considered Sci-Fi in China. I'm not saying it's pulp either.

An interesting and entertaining read anyway.

ScarblaconDec 16, 2019

3 or 4 Discworld books, as in every year. Starting with Soul Music this time, in publication order.

Designing Data Intensive Applications.

Some books on leadership from the recent HN discussion, not decided which yet.

Death's End (book 3 of The Three Body Problem). The first two were really good.

The Algorithm Design Manual. Domain Driven Design.

Some chess books. Some general science and history. The yearly random self help book.

If I manage all that plus whatever I'll decide I want in the actual year, it will be a good year for reading, but maybe I need to have some more focus. We'll see.

partisanonNov 6, 2016

The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin

ZababaonMay 26, 2021

I'll preface this by saying that I don't want to be mean and just give you honest feedback. I haven't read either of your books and just looked at the amazon page you linked, look at the cover and read the blurb for The Golden Seed, and looked at https://gabrielgambetta.com/computer-graphics-from-scratch/, looked at the cover, skimmed the table of contents and read the paragraph under the title. This is of course entirely personal feedback based on how I feel about both of your books.

For "The Golden Seed", both the cover and the blurb seem "too much", like the kind of book you encounter by the dozen in a bookstore. It's also a fiction book, which appeals less to me because I can either ask people in my family for recommendations (there are a few big readers) and then have something to talk about, or read well-known books (for example, I've read The Three-Body Problem recently, after hearing about it 4 or 5 times here and really liked it).

On the other hand, Computer Graphics from Scratch attracts me more: its cover is in the same style as "Automate the Boring Stuff with Python", of which I've heard great things about; the "from scratch" appeals to me because I like the idea of building things from scratch; the table of contents has an entire part on raytracing, and the book seems oriented at beginners, which I like because I previously tried and failed to build a raytracer following the raytracer in one weekend project, and I think I could achieve it with this book. It's a technical book, which I'll value more because it feels like I'm building a skill. I also have a friend that made a few graphics experiments as a hobby and this could be a great conversation topic.

Again, this is very personal feedback but I hope it can help you understand why some people might buy one and not the other.

TeMPOraLonMay 27, 2021

I've also been gravitating towards this kind of component categorization, but then there's the ugly problem of "cross-cutting concerns". For instance:

- The auth layer may have an opinion on how half of the other modules should work. Security is notoriously hard to isolate into a module that can be composed with others.

- Diagnostics layer - logging, profiling, error reporting, debugging - wants to have free access to everything, and is constantly trying to pollute all the clean interfaces and beautiful abstractions you design in other layers.

- User interface - UI design is fundamentally about creating a completely separate mental model of the problem being solved. To make a full program, you have to map the UI conceptualization to the "backend" conceptualization. That process has a nasty tendency of screwing with every single module of the program.

I'm starting to think about software as a much higher-dimensional problem. In Liu Cixin's "The Three Body Problem" trilogy, there's a part[0] where a deadly device encased in impenetrable unobtanium[1] is neutered by an attack from a higher dimension. While the unobtanium shell completely protects the fragile internals in 3D space, in 4D space, both the shell and the internals lie bare, unwound, every point visible and accessible simultaneously[2].

This is how I feel about building software systems. Our abstractions are too flat. I'd like to have a couple more dimensions available, to compose them together. Couple more angles from which to view the source code. But our tooling is not there. Aspect-oriented programming moved in that direction a bit, but last I checked, it wasn't good enough.


[0] - IIRC it's in the second book, "The Dark Forest".

[1] - It makes more sense in the book, but I'm trying to spoiler-proof my description.

[2] - Or, going down a dimension, for flat people living on a piece of paper, a circle is an impenetrable barrier. But when we look at that piece of paper, we can see what's inside the circle.

faonMar 7, 2015

Bought this book, “The Three-Body Problem”!

banmeagaindan2onSep 8, 2020

By few people I mean the conventional opinion in the middle class - to give credit where it is due HN is more likely to understand why these claims could be true.

The wages of blue collar workers will be much higher than white collar workers.

By mid-century most universities will cease to exist.

Robotics and Genetics are not technologies yet.

Liu Cixin's book The Three Body Problem is a Straussian criticism of the West's political system.

Most important technological advancements are now being developed outside Silicon Valley by people who don't consider themselves to be in technology at all.

I could go on but I have to run to work.

mercutio2onDec 24, 2019

I don’t understand. Every one of those negative traits applies to The Three Body Problem as a novel, except for acting, in my opinion.

I realize there exist people who like sci-fi and think The Three Body Problem is good, but... I can’t understand what they see in it. The last 50 pages or so was at least an ok short story...

angry_octetonSep 8, 2019

The writing in the English translation of The Three Body Problem is stilted and dull. Maybe it's better in Chinese? Some languages must be more expensive than others to translate well. Gave up half way through the first book; when I eventually read the synopsis on Wikipedia it sounded exciting.

I'll have to read Neuromancer again. At the time I read it I was skeptical that hacking decks and exploits would ever exist, but that was before JavaScript, internet connected critical systems, rop gadgets and nation state 0day exploit chains. The need to do scene setting for these concepts perhaps weighs on the story.

pjc50onMay 22, 2021

The old political cults are still there? And still causing problems? They've just learned to be slightly less visible about it. Brigham Young university will still "cancel" you for not being straight: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/traumatic-whiplash-b...

> Read the opening of The Three Body Problem

Yes, the cultural revolution was bad. Revolutions tend to be massive over corrections which arise because there's no peaceful way of resolving a situation and they know that in the event of a counter revolution they will all be executed. This is why Fabianism is a good idea.

acabrahamsonJuly 11, 2016

1. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

2. One L by Scott Turow

3. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

4. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

5. Believer: My Forty Years in Politics by David Axelrod

6. The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

7. Augustus: First Emperor of Rome by Adrian Goldsworthy

8. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (re-read)

9. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

10. Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

11. The Fear Index by Robert Harris

12. Red Dragon by Thomas Harris (re-read)

13. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (re-read)

14. Hannibal by Thomas Harris (re-read)

15. Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin (re-read)

16. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (re-read)

17. Claudius the God by Robert Graves

Re-reads take hardly any time at all, so I'm not sure whether to count them. If you're not, then 11 books read so far.

WildgooseonFeb 22, 2016

Diversity problem? Nonsense! Just look how many succesful Speculative Fiction authors are female: Andrea Norton, Susan Cooper, Connie Willis, Ursula Le Guin, Julian May, Nancy Kress, Octavia Butler (black, as well as female) and dare I say it, J.K. Rowling - all off the top of my head.

Then there are well known award-winnning gay authors such as David Gerrold.

And I've just finished reading last year's Hugo Award winning novel "The Three Body Problem" written by Cixin Liu, a Chinese SF author.

If anything, SF is the field of fiction which has the least problems with "diversity" - its readers are open-minded almost by definition!

OopsCriticalityonNov 9, 2015

I'm cheating a little on the date, but The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin stands out. It was translated into english late last year, and received the Hugo this year for best story. It's wonderful sci-fi written on a grand scale, and made all the more interesting and refreshing to me by coming from outside the Western perspective. It's one of a trilogy: The Dark Forest english translation is out, and Death's End is coming beginning of next year.

Also enjoyed Seveneves by Stephenson, and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. The former is likely known to the HN crowd; the latter draws comparisons to T.H. White's classic The Goshawk.

Among non-fiction books, I enjoyed The Little Prover by Friedman and Eastlund. It was exactly what I expected, a gentle introduction into inductive proofs in the idiom established by The Little Schemer.

fragmedeonDec 19, 2017

These are all hard sci-fi, and much like Dark Mirror, given today's troubles, it's simultaneously entertaining while being intellectually stimulating, but in a way that feels relevant, even if not immediately actionable.

The first is what got me hooked, and back into reading.

The Wages of Humanity, is a short story by Liu Cixin. The short story used to be available by itself on Amazon, but now it's been disappeared[1]. It can be found as the last story in The Wandering Earth: Classic Science Fiction Collection.[2]

An assassin is being offered exorbitant sum to kill the three poorest people for some reason, and the book explores why, to a thrilling conclusion.

Since I found it as a stand alone story I cannot comment on the rest of the books in that collection. From there I read into The Three Body Problem[3], and Dark Forest by Liu Cixin; first two books of the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. The only reason I don't mention I have not (yet) finished reading the third book.

[1] This link now returns a 404: https://amazon.com/dp/B00CSW0UZI but it's what the URL my Kindle points to. Search does not find the stand alone edition.

[2] https://amazon.com/dp/B00CXUKNA2

[3] https://amazon.com/dp/B00IQO403K

Florin_AndreionMar 7, 2019

> Liu Cixin's The Three Body Problem

His vision of the future is bleak in the extreme. His characters are naively constructed and occasionally make incomprehensible choices.

The worst sin is he's unsure whether he wants to write hard sci-fi or just mostly "fi" with a thin veneer of "sci". Occasionally he seems like he wants to stick to solid science with a few extra assumptions (in the best tradition of hard sci-fi); but then he veers off into some cartoonish "science" that's quite jarring. In the end, you get the impression he just tries to brag about how much science he "understands".

In the end I was reading it the way some folks watch a bad movie - to make fun of it.

If you want cosmic scale hard sci-fi, try Stephen Baxter. He can be a bit dry at times, but that's his only fault.

girzelonMar 8, 2015

The censorship barrier doesn't prevent Chinese art from getting out of China, it prevents Chinese art from being particularly good in the first place.

The first volume of The Three Body Problem is looking like the most successful work of Chinese fiction in English translation for the past thirty years (and that includes the books of a certain Nobel prize-winner). I chalk that up largely to the fact that it is science fiction: sci-fi fans know that the book is ultimately going to fit a familiar mold. The China-specific stuff is just special sauce, something unusual and interesting. Readers are still confident that they'll get aliens and physics and interstellar war, and they aren't disappointed. By the time they reach the third volume, and the story starts to fly off the handle, they may be disappointed.

Chinese literary fiction leaves readers confused from the start. It's often messily written, over-ambitious, blunt-toothed, and doesn't read well in English. Some of that is attributable to a general disregard of writing-as-craft in China, some of it to poor English translations, but much of it to political pressure.

houselonMar 7, 2015

I've just started reading The Three Body Problem (in a Traditional Chinese edition, since I'm more comfortable with that than Simplified). No spoilers please.

From my perspective, what little I've read of Chinese speculative fiction (such as a couple of Ni Kuang novels) seems to take a bit of what I call a "golly gee whiz" tone, making a big deal about ideas that would be old hat to most readers of Western SF. What I've read so far of Liu Cixin seems to have a bit of this, but perhaps not as bad; I'll see how I feel after I finish the trilogy.

kharakonFeb 26, 2019

That was one of the most interesting ideas I came across while reading science fiction. The exact reason I like this genre. I still think about it today. Why does intelligence need consciousness? Does it really? Evolution is full of sup-optimal solutions, consciousness may very well belong to this category. Highly recommend the book.

Off topic:
There was also another book that made it clear to me, that "the stars do not belong to mankind". Something about the spiritual awakening of humankind, leading do another evolutionary tree for our children, while the adults are left to die, knowing they'll never be able to explore the universe. Forgot the name, but still think about this, too.

Lastly, the Three Body Problem with it's "Dark Forest" theory. I'm not completely convinced by the idea, but it's thought provoking.

mojoeonDec 24, 2014

About a month ago I posted about a great science fiction book that was recently translated from Mandarin to English (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8607914). It would be amazing if this tool could incorporate content like "The Three-Body Problem." I realize that international publishing rights is a complex subject to tackle, which is probably why "the True Story of Ah Q" was chosen for this initial release (it's in the public domain, or at least it looks like the english version is: https://www.marxists.org/archive/lu-xun/1921/12/ah-q/). However, as many others have commented, this great tool will probably not be used much without great content.

Florin_AndreionSep 21, 2017

I read The Three Body Problem by the same author. I wish I didn't. By the third volume I was reading more like the way you keep watching a slow catastrophe unfold.

Not only does it paint an utterly depressing picture of the future and the Universe in general, but worse, the assumptions it makes about human nature basically imply this is a failed species.

mercutio2onJan 14, 2019

Funny. I can look down my nose at David Weber’s wooden and cringeworthy characters and dialog, but at the end of the day, I lapped up every Safehold book.

I don’t need my sci-fi to be literature, but I need the story to move every ten or twenty pages, or characters I care about. Character development is an alternative to plot development, basically, but to go along side your interesting science bits, you have to give me at least one of:

A) short

B) characters who I care at least slightly about

C) a plot that moves faster than your average snail

The Three Body Problem had none of the above. Although the last 40 or so pages was at least a perfectly good short story in its own right.

sudhirjonMay 30, 2018

There's an exploration of that in book 2 of the Three Body Problem / The Dark Forest. Don't remember exact details, but I think it posited the destruction of the inner solar system, mostly due to solar wind both roasting the inner planets, and slowing them down - which causes more planets to fall into the sun in a chain reaction.

andrewljohnsononJune 17, 2016

The name alludes to a book by Cixin Liu, the second in The Three Body Problem trilogy: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IQO403K/

This is perhaps the best of a hundred scifi novels I've read in a few years. These novels will make you question the wisdom of sending traceable radio signals into space. Stay quiet, it's a dangerous Dark Forest out there.

FullMtlAlcoholconMar 17, 2018

For me, it depends on whether I'm listening to a fiction or non-fiction book (also, the ability of the narrator to draw me in is key). I was completely immersed in the audio version of the Three Body Problem and wager that I could recall it better than if I had read it.

As for non-fiction, the last book I tried to listen to is Behave by Robert Sapolsky. Although the narration is good, I simply cannot retain the names of the various brain structures and their function. After listening to a chapter for the 3rd time, I just gave up and decided to purchase the text version.

If someone is painting a picture for me, so to speak, as in narrative fiction, I feel it makes a stronger impression than actually reading the material. But if I'm trying to learn something, I frequently need to pause what I'm taking in, usually to build a mental model.

andyjohnson0onJune 29, 2017

I enjoyed Blindsight, but it may not be very reassuring to someone concerned about the possibility of aliens arriving with the intention of using us as a food source.

And I really, really tried hard with The Three Body Problem. I get that the English version is a translation, but in the end the flowery language and slow plot just wore me down. Did anyone else have the same experience?

(Off topic, but I find that the problem with fiction based on SETI / first contact is that the subject often ends up being used as a metaphor for the human condition and the difficulty of really communicating with other people. Which is fine, but doesn't make for satisfying SF in my experience.)

pavel_lishinonMar 9, 2016

I had some serious problems with the Three Body Problem, which annoyed me enough to put a pause on reading the next novel. I loved all the interpersonal stuff - I haven't liked a character as much as I like Big Shi in a long time - but the tech and science of it seemed implausible to me.

It's hard to go into details without being spoilerific, but: the problem is hard to solve, but you can still make very useful short-term predictions; the technology they have access to is being insanely under-utilized given their goals; and I don't believe the actions of the scientists given how they use that technology - I would expect the reaction to be the exact opposite of what ends up happening.

I left a review on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1553897979

mustangerangonDec 29, 2019

* Red Rising (series) by Pierce Brown
* Stormlight Archive (series) by Brandon Sanderson
* The Three-Body Problem (series) by Cixin Liu
* Malazan Book of the Fallen (series) by Steven Erikson

Why all fiction? No matter how much I read about the human mind or current affairs or computer science or quantum physics or ..., there is no deeper, more lasting feeling in my soul than finishing an epic tale that has grabbed every ounce of my attention. So much fun, so many characters and plot twists and emotions and gains and losses. I loved every second reading these books and they have restored my faith in modern writing. Well done.

dedalusonNov 5, 2017

Three Scientists and their Gods: This book foreshadows the meaning and purpose of science+tech https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/214570.Three_Scientists_...

Scifi: The Three Body problem (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20518872-the-three-body-...) for its whole encompassing narrative about human future and some of it will be real (fusion instead of chemical fuel, pulse propulsion and other social consequences)

Ardor: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20931250-ardor if you ever wanted to understand ancient indian philosophy. Heavy read, not recommended for fun but more as quest

FoxTales: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/412167.Foxtales about how software was developed in the midwest free of all the fashion/hipsterism currently in vogue and building a community of users for your software

The elements of networking style: If you ever wanted to know the politics of how networking RFCs are made: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2298785.The_Elements_of_... and design choices made to build modern day internet

Unwritten Laws of Engineering: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13122143-unwritten-laws-... is an old and timeless way detailing what it means to engineer

High Performance Browser Networking: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17985198-high-performanc... if you ever wanted to know what happens inside a browser

The Computer and the Brain: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/358880.The_Computer_and_... where the master compares the machine with our brain

The Grammatical Man: If you ever wanted to know the importance of structure and constraint in everything: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/722028.Grammatical_Man

mojoeonNov 15, 2014

So you would say that the article is correct about the lack of science fiction authors in China? Are there any other Mandarin SF novels that you would recommend, even if they don't measure up to the level of "The Three-Body Problem"? I grew up reading exclusively western SF (Asimov, Clarke, Niven, Heinlein, Vinge, etc) and reading SF is still one of my favorite pastimes. I took some Mandarin language classes in College, and I'd like to try reading some Chinese SF.

omalleytonAug 6, 2017

Three reasons you're not going to see a change like this in the algo:

1) Recommendations are somewhat economic substitutes, not economic complements. Which is to say, most people look at the Amazon page for a given book, then look through the associated recommendations, and (generally) choose only one of the options.

2) If enough people actually bought Silent Spring after reading the Three Body problem, then the Silent Spring would already show up in the recommendations, because Amazon shows you recommendations based on what customers most similar to you also bought

3) If Amazon had shown you Silent Spring BEFORE you read the Three Body Problem, would you have even wanted to read it? Or would you have been like wtf Amazon how is this related? My bet for the average customer is the latter. Amazon can't make money by recommending you things that you won't even want until two weeks later

beatonApr 24, 2019

The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu. The scene is actually from the second book in the trilogy, The Dark Forest, but they are really meant to be read in order, and I don't think The Dark Forest would make much sense without reading The Three Body Problem first.

Outstanding books, highly recommended if you like old-school hard science fiction. I'm currently reading the third book in the trilogy. But when I read this one scene... I had a song a day later. It really knocked me out.

yoodenvranxonAug 13, 2018

> Imagine the "pollution" caused by civilizations [...] Destabilizing solar systems or even entire galaxies, maybe even violating causality..

If you are interested in such a plotline you should read the "The Three-Body Problem" triology by Liu Cixin.

Without going to much into detail: This topic pops up several times in the third (and perhaps already in the second) book of the series.

crazychromeonMar 7, 2015

I stopped reading Ni Kuang's work since 14. I'd consider comparing Ni Kuang with Liu a serious offence to Liu's readers.

In my opinion, the second and third instalments of The Three Body Problem are as good as the Foundation series. The first one, really is just a trailer.

The second one, entitled The Dark Forest is far more than Sci-fi. Personally, I interpret it as a serious international political question: could the West really tolerate any other forms of civilisation? the book gave a negative perspective.

Claim: I live in UK and I understand most of EU folks don't like to be simplified as Westerners. However, from a Chinese perspective, the cultural differences between FR/DE/UK/CA/US/AU are invisible.

JeddonJuly 13, 2018

Heh. I sometimes read these contemporary ask-hn's and realise I'm way outside of the loop, but can agree with this short list. In recent years have read-and-thoroughly-enjoyed Neal Stephenson's Seveneves, Cixin Liu's The Three Body Problem, and Charles Stross' Accelerando - and only later realised they're basically all about the end (in different ways) of the world.

I'm two thirds of the way through Ramez Naam's Nexus trilogy ... and am now starting to think I have a literary fetish.

madeuptempacctonAug 29, 2018

Reading is a balance - not reading in childhood is missing out. Reading too much as an adult is running away from life, much like TV and video games. On the other hand, I am reading the Three Body Problem now, and I am learning some history and being forced to remember scientific principles I didn't review since high school. So I guess the lesson is quality and not doing too much of it. I stopped reading sci-fi that didn't win the Nebula (or whatever it's called) award. Just not worth the time.

pavlovonAug 9, 2015

'The Three-Body Problem' ... shows an immature view to science by the Chinese.

This is a dangerous way to view another culture. Instead of accepting that an author is an independent creator and a work is an independent creation, you seem to be saying that any Chinese work can be interpreted as a slice of "what China is like".

There's no such thing as immutable "Chinese-ness" that would be inevitably expressed by Chinese authors. To think otherwise is basically Orientalism in the Edward Said meaning [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_(book)

KapuraonDec 12, 2018

This year was a year in which, along with everything else, I read a number of standout scifi trilogies:


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (African girl goes to space, becomes a unifying force in the galaxy)

- Binti

- Binti: Home

- Binti: The Night Masquerade


Remembrance of Earth's Past by Liu Cixin (Humans make first contact and it doesn't go all that well)

- The Three Body Problem

- The Dark Forest

- Death's End


Imperial Radch by Ann Leckie (A spaceship's AI becomes confined to a single human body and seeks revenge)

- Ancillary Justice

- Ancillary Sword

- Ancillary Mercy


Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin (Earth really hates humans, but some people have the power to control the earthquakes)

- The Fifth Season

- The Obelisk Gate

- The Stone Sky

AndrewLiptakonJune 9, 2020

A bunch of books: Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (as well as several of the sequels), American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, and a bunch of others.
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