Netflix is adding another book adaptation to their list of upcoming releases. This time it is the novel The Three-Body Problem. Written by Chinese author Liu Cixin, and translated into English by author Ken Liu. The novel is the beginning of a sci-fi trilogy – Remembrance of Earth’s Past. The upcoming Netflix series will cover all three books of the trilogy. Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are signed on to write and executive produce the series. Director Rian Johnson and writer/producer Alexander Woo are also onboard as executive producers. Let’s take a look at what we know about The Three-Body Problem coming to Netflix.
Image via Tor Books
The Three-Body Problem Is Based On Scientific Principles
Originally published in 2008, The Three-Body Problem was one of China’s most popular science fiction novels. Translated by author Ken Liu into English in 2014, the novel went on to win best novel at the 2015 Hugo Awards. It was the first ever Asian novel to win the award. The Three-Body Problem is based on hard scientific principles, much like the popular Expanse novels. This adaptation continues a recurring trend of ‘hard’ science fiction stories in media, in contrast to the science-fantasy of Star Wars or the MCU.
The concept of the three-body problem comes from the study of orbital mechanics. In this context, it is what happens when three planetary objects exert gravitational pull upon one another. For example, the way the Moon, the Earth and the Sun affect one another in orbit. In Liu’s novel there is an alien star system that has an unstable three-body problem. The habitable planet suffers extreme heat and cold, along with a cycle of destruction that continually decimates civilization. This problem will come to affect the societies of Earth in a dramatic way over the course of the trilogy.
An Alien Invasion Story From An Eastern Perspective
Image via Tor Books
The official synopsis for The Three-Body Problem tells us the following about the first novel in Cixin’s trilogy.
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.
An adaptation of The Three-Body Problem on Netflix will show us an alien invasion story unlike what most of us are familiar with. The backdrop of the Cultural Revolution in China has the potential to go in-depth into a history that most Americans are unfamiliar with. Most alien invasion movies center around the United States and it will be refreshing to see this concept played out from a non-Western perspective.
In a press release, author Liu Cixin said the following about the Netflix adaptation.
“I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting The Three-Body Problem for television audiences. I set out to tell a story that transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole. It is a great honor as an author to see this unique sci-fi concept travel and gain fandom across the globe. I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.”
How Will Benioff and Weiss Handle A Sci-Fi Series?
Image via Disney
This venture marks the first project that GOT showrunners Benioff and Weiss have signed onto since the highly controversial ending of the epic fantasy series. Other projects that the duo were working on have been cancelled, leading many to wonder what they would do next. It will be interesting to see what they do with a hard science fiction trilogy, that is vastly different from the high fantasy of Game of Thrones.
In a statement, the duo said “Liu Cixin’s trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we’ve read. Taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time. From life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe. We look forward to spending the next years of our lives bringing this to life for audiences around the world.”
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.