Three Body (science fiction)
bookcover of Three-Body I
|Followed by||Three Body II: Dark Forest|
Three-Body is a modern Chinese science fiction trilogy, written by Liu Cixin, and the eponymous name is the first episode of the set also. The series is finished in November, 2010. The first episode was awarded the Galaxy Award in 2006.
The setting 
In classical mechanics, the motion of a system made up of three objects interacting with each other is analytically unsolvable (although, in reality, perfectly adequate numerical solutions are possible). This famous mathematical predicament, known as the three-body problem, was extended to cosmic scales in Liu Cixin's grand work of imagination and formed the basis for its plot.
4.5 light years away from the Earth, the last planet of a triple star system saw an evolving cycle of destruction and rebirth of a unique civilization. For the intelligent beings of this civilization, the trisolarans, life was extremely harsh on their home planet due to its unpredictable trajectory under the collective gravity of three suns. When the planet is captured by one of the three, it revolves around it for some uncertain length of time, resulting in a stable period called a Constant Era. But when none of the three stars has the planet for itself, the planet's orbit becomes unsettled and the world enters a Messed Era. During a Messed Era sunrises, sunsets, and seasonal changes are totally irregular, and climate fluctuations are frequent and extreme. To adapt to these conditions the life forms developed a survival skill that allows them to dehydrate quickly and be revived later; but this maneuver does not always work. When the planet comes too close to one star, the temperature may gets so high as to melt everything on its surface; and when all three stars close in simultaneously, the powerful gravitational pull from three directions could tear the planet apart. For these reasons, the Trisolaran Civilization had been destroyed several hundred times. Even more terrifying is the prospect that the planet, like the ten siblings before it, might eventually plunge into one of its suns, killing everything with it forever. For the trisolarans, cosmic migration is the only viable solution to an eternal crisis.
Not surprisingly, the trisolaran society had adopted an extreme form of totalitarianism that cares only about its survival with total disregard for earthly human moral principles.
From the ashes of many previous extinctions, the current incarnation of the Trisolaran Civilization had developed sciences and technologies far surpassing those of the earthlings.
During the tumultuous period of Mao's Cultural Revolution, a top secret project code-named Red Coast was launched in a rural location in North China, which seemed to be under direct mandate from Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China. From the beginning, Project Red Coast was shrouded in complete secrecy. Its mission: to search for extraterrestrial life.
Ye Wenjie, then a college student of Astrophysics, was relegated to physical labor in a remote province after having witnessed the death of her professor father at the hands of the Red Guards, and subsequently being implicated herself. In a stroke of serendipity, Ye entered the secret Red Coast research base and started working there as a technician. After accidentally discovering the magnifying effect of the Sun's ionosphere on electromagnetic waves reflected off it, she sent out a signal containing information about the Earth without anybody knowing about it. The signal was intercepted by the inhabitants of the nearest star system, the trisolarans. From here on, contact was established between the two worlds.
After the first contact, a group of dissidents-activists resentful of modern human civilization and its detrimental effects on the environment created a secret society named Earth Three-Body Organization (ETO) whose mission was the eradication of human civilization and ushering in the trisolaran civilization. Ye Wenjie was the spiritual leader of this group.
In their first move to decimate the human race and pave the ground for their migration, the trisolaran scientists "unfolded" a proton from its 11 inner dimensions into a vast two dimensional film, etched sophisticated circuits on it, creating a computer with artificial intelligence and super-natural capabilities. For example, Dimensional Control gives it the power to freely access the three-dimensioned world from high dimensions, and to transform back into its original microscopic state for concealment and movement. Charged with energy "borrowed" from vacant space, it can travel at nearly the speed of light. This robot, dubbed "intelon", was sent to the earth to lock down human scientific research in order to forestall any further progress. Since new breakthroughs in understanding the basic laws of nature depend on studying fundamental particles using accelerators, this type of equipment became first targets of intelons. After being infiltrated by the intelons, the world's accelerators could no longer produce reliable results because the collisions were now orchestrated by intelons. The intelons are also multi-threaded and therefore omnipresent and can produce miracle-like illusions to humans. It did not take a great number of them to put a giant, invisible blindfold on the entire world.
Meanwhile, members of the ETO launched a campaign to assassinate scientists and researchers in certain fields. They also created an intriguing game of virtual reality called Three-Body to recruit new members. In the game, the hundred times of evolution and destruction of the trisolaran civilization were replayed in vivid details.
In response to the crisis, world governments formed an alliance to counter the immediate threat. Wang Miao, a nanotechnology researcher, infiltrated ETO after playing Three-Body successfully to ascend to high levels of prestige. With help from former police captain Shi Qiang (nicknamed Da Shi or Big Shi) and a Multinational Special Forces team, Wang devised a plan to ambush the cruise ship Judgement Day on Panama Canal. The ship was in fact ETO headquarters in disguise. The weapon of choice was an invisible fence of nanofilament strings stretched over and across the river. Operation Chinese Harp was a success. The cruise ship was sliced through and disintegrated like a stack of cards. Through interrogation of Ye Wenjie, the ETO head, and from the captured CDs from the ship, the world obtained detailed information about the trisolaran civilization and its plan to conquer the Earth.
It was too late. Human advances in basic science had been locked down by the forward deployed intelons. And in the meantime, a formidable trisolaran fleet of 1000 ships embarked on a voyage to the solar system. It will take them 450 years to arrive; but the human race must get ready before that.