In 2008, Chinese author Liu Cixin released The Three-Body Problem, the first chapter in an epic, mind-blowing sci-fi trilogy about an unconventional alien invasion of Earth that stretches all the way from the Cultural Revolution in mid-twentieth century China to the far-off future in distant galaxies. It’s a complex story filled with as much in-depth Chinese political history as it is intensely heady theoretical physics and orbital mechanics, and has been hailed as a modern masterpiece with Liu becoming the first Asian writer to ever win the Hugo Award for Best Novel.
And I kind of didn’t like it. Like, really didn’t like it. I know I’m in the minority here, but I was left so very… meh after finally reading this vaunted novel that I never actually checked out the remaining two chapters of what became known as the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. Maybe blame it on the slightly off structure of Liu’s narrative and dialogue thanks to being lost in translation, but either way, I felt it was a damn great idea in a clumsily executed story. And oh, hey wouldn’t you know it but clumsily executing great ideas is a speciality of David Benioff and DB Weiss who will now be producing a TV series adaptation of The Three-Body Problem for Netflix!
The streamer made the announcement last night, revealing that this will be the first project in the massive $200 million, multi-year deal that Netflix signed with Benioff and Weiss who shot to fame by adapting the first six seasons of the multi-award-winning Game of Thrones to screen for HBO. And then promptly plummeted to infamy when their show ran past George R.R. Martin’s original source novels and Benioff and Weiss, having to actually turn in their own original work now, totally botched the next two seasons. The result was that a show that was once the biggest in the entire world, turned in one of the most divisive, mocked, and just plain disappointing finales in recent memory. So yes, I can’t wait to see how Benioff and Weiss manage to turn Liu’s already difficult plot into a mainstream TV series.
Here’s what the two, who will produce and write the entire series, had to say in a press release:
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.
There’s some hope here, as Benioff and Weiss boast some serious talent supporting them as the executive producers include Rian Johnson, Brad Pitt, and Rosamund Pike, who are all co-producing via their respective production companies. Also on that producer’s list is Lin Qui and Zhao Jilong, the respective Chairman and Vice President of Yoozoo Group and The Three-Body Universe, the rights holders to Liu’s work.
As for Liu, he’s been billed as a consulting producer on the series and had this to say about his work being brought to life:
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 and I am excited for new and existing fans all over the world to discover the story on Netflix.
Netflix wasn’t this story’s original TV home though. Back in 2018, Amazon had actually announced that they would be adapting The Three-Body Problem in what would have been one of the most expensive TV series ever made, but eventually they scrapped the idea for undisclosed reasons. Netflix got in on the Liu Cixin business last year already though when they picked up the big-budget adaptation of his sci-fi novella The Wandering Earth for global streaming. I’m sure that partnership is what led to this new announcement.
There are no timelines revealed for this adaptation yet, so maybe I’ll have enough time to revisit this book and possibly even read the rest. If any of you are interested in checking it out for the first time, here’s the official synopsis for The Three-Body Problem:
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. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
Last Updated: September 2, 2020