Where Cixin Liu's characters fall short, his world building shines, as does his take on theoretical physics, which dazzles like a noon day sky filled with three suns!
In the vein of A. C. Clark, Liu imagines the history changing event of first contact with extraterrestrials, while setting it against the tumultuous latter 20th century political history of China.
The story opens in the cultural revolution of the late 1960's, where Ye Wenjie's father, a well known physicist is beaten to death by Red Guard fanatics, leaving a permanent scar on Yi's faith in the world. She is ultimately conscripted to a secret Red Coast base, a telecommunications centre where she discovers proof of extraterrestrials.
Fast forward to the not too distant future where prominent scientists are being murdered. Shi Quian, a quirky and wily police officer is investigating these events. A scientist, Wang Maoi, a nano materials researcher is drawn into Shi's world, soon witnessing inexplicable and disturbing events, including playing a strange V.R. game, 'Three Body', which simulates an unstable and declining world in another star system. This ultimately ties into an actual world, Trisolaris and its inhabitant's own desperate plans for survival.
Character development is the weakest link in this otherwise dazzling world envisaged by Cixin Lui. Even more extraordinary is Lui's bold take on theoretical physics, seemingly challenging the boundaries of scientific investigation with his inspiring imagination, a prerequisite for great 'hard' speculative fiction. He achieves this in spades, making his work shine with the intensity of three suns!