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The Three‐Body Problem (Paperback, 2016, W F Howes Ltd) 5 stars

Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into …

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3 stars

Much of the novel assumes a tone of gossamer fantasy, still with the heft of a folktale. Think of fabric draping a central space into being, over a solid floor.

There is video gaming (along with rally and militarism) as theatre, perhaps most overtly, but the whole story is almost palpably sited within in staging containers — which mostly stretch or are transcended rather gently, in contrast to the claustrophobic violence possessing and constricting the gap in the crowd, the logged woods, the cramped room, the retina, the battered biosphere, the rigid formation, the traumatic shared memory, the laden canal, the proton.

For its themes, The Three-Body Problem is a very comfortable read. The “hard sci‐fi” elements are good fun, silly (or playful and open) without committing to ridiculous abandon. Although, on occasion, explanatory dialogue felt condescendingly conspicuous, on the whole, Liu’s devices moved smoothly enough. There are some beautiful …