Beginning with the bestseller The Three-Body Problem, the Remembrance of Earth's Past Trilogy is one of the most imaginative science fiction stories you could read. The Three-Body Problem is followed by Dark Forest, then comes to a conclusion in Death's End. Mr. Liu weaves together politics, philosophy, society, and science to make everything come together in one of the most detailed and insane Sci-Fi reads.
Before a get to the reasons to read the trilogy here are brief descriptions of the individual books.
The Three-Body Problem:
As the first book in the series, The Three-Body Problem sets up a science-filled universe like none other. It spends a lot of time inside a virtual reality game, where brilliant scientific minds meet to find a solution to a problem. The problem is called The Three-Body Problem.
The Three-Body game simulates a planet that experiences different phases based on its sun. It is hostile, and then stable, but at random times. Scientists from all over the world work to find a reason and or solution to the problem. It later becomes known that the planet simulation is based on a real planet with intelligent life called Trisolaris.
The summary is, that the Trisolarans decide to leave their hostile world, and find a new one. They have their sights set on Earth, where there is a movement/religion surrounding their existence and eventual invasion. The Earth is divided into those who see them as threats to humankind, those who see them as saviors, and those who see them as a way for humanity to get what it deserves - total annihilation.
Earth now has to face a coming war. Humans have four centuries to find a way to defend themselves. They must advance technologically and some need to decide what side of the fight they're on.
The Dark Forest
The next book shows humanity working towards a way to defeat the Trisolaran fleet which is on its way to Earth. Lou Ji, with a few others, is selected to be a Wallfacer. He is an astronomer and sociologist, expected to form a plan to defeat Trisolaris without actually voicing his plan because Trisolaris' sophons, proton-sized super computers orbiting the earth, can hear everything. He is unambitious and does not want the job. His refusal is seen as part of his plan, so he takes advantage a builds a life he wants at the government's expense. He is not the only Wallfacer, but he is the only one Trisolaris is afraid of.
The last book in the trilogy shows Lou Ji releasing his position as Swordholder, a position he held for decades since the conclusion of The Dark Forest. Because of Lou JI, humanity has been safe and has co-existed with the Trisolarans. Lou Ji promised mutual destruction if Trisoaras attacked and Trisolaris knew he wasn't bluffing. He passes the sword to Cheng Xin a brilliant scientist who has spent the last few centuries in hibernation.
Whereas the Trisolarans respected a feared Lou Ji, they did not feel the same about Cheng Xin. They attacked earth as soon as the Swordholder button was in her hand.
Humanity was subjugated and the population relocated to designated reservations to await the Trisolaran fleet. But they retreat when mutual destruction is back in action. Humanity does not need to fear the Trisolarans anymore, but now they have to prepare for their own destruction which may come at any time from any direction.
Reasons to read:
The characters of Mr. Liu's world are varied and interesting.
Ye Wenjie - We meet her at the start of the Cultural Revolution in China. She witnesses her father beaten to death for his seemingly anti-communist beliefs. Her mother and sister turn against her father, but she remains loyal. Ye Wenjie is an astrophysicist and because of what was done to her father, Ye Wenjie turns on humanity. She goes through rough times and finds herself in a secret base using her expertise to search for intelligent life. She finds it, then throws all of humanity under the bus.
As time goes on, a scientist named Wang Miao enters the story. He is a leading scientist in nanomaterials. He is also the man who figures out the Three-Body Problem. He becomes an asset in the coming battle with the Trisolarans.
Then there is Shi Qiang (Da Shi). He is a former detective with practical experience in life. He is described as rude, gross, and any other negative adjective you could think of, but he is an interesting character. Underneath all the hostility is a wise and kind individual who knows more than the higher-ups ever will.
In Dark Forest, there is Lou Ji. He is an unambitious Astronomer and Sociologist chosen to be a Wallfacer He tried to back out of the Wallfacer program but is met with people thinking his refusal is all part of the plan. He takes advantage and uses the resources at his disposal to build a happy life. He lives how he wants until the powers that be suspect his lack of effort is not a ploy and "persuade" him to get to work. Lou Ji is my favorite character. His character arc goes from not caring about much to defender of the Earth.
In Death's End, there is Cheng Xin. She becomes Swordholder after Lou Ji. She is not a very interesting character, but the characters around her are. She meets many people including Lou Ji, who guide her through life right to the end.
Sophon, named after the proton-sized supercomputers of Trisolaris, is an android. She is described as a beautiful and graceful Japanese woman. This changes when Cheng Xin fails at being the Swordholder. Sophon is now a warrior working to ready the Earth for the Trisoalrans. She is still graceful but in a terrifying way.
The science of this trilogy is crazy. There is the science that is real, and the science that, I think, is theoretical or completely fabricated. I am not a scientist so a lot of it went over my head, but Mr. Liu wrote it in a way that made it all seem possible. The amount of research he had to do for the science alone would have taken me years to even scratch the surface.
He explores theoretical physics, astrophysics, advanced speed of light, orbiting space cities, advanced warfare tech, superior medical care, frozen hibernation, and everything in between.
First, the Trisolarans have advanced technology. One of the most advanced is the Droplet. It is a smooth surfaced teardrop shape. It has no distinguishing features besides its shape. It can just sit there doing nothing, and then suddenly take out the entire Earth space fleet. The space battle was fast, complete, and horrifying. The only surviving ships were the ones that managed to fly away. That was not many.
Society Through Time
It was fun to see how society could change over time. The Trilogy starts in modern times, then jumps ahead 400 years to a society living underground with information screens everywhere, and advanced space defense systems. Then time jumps further and humanity has moved to space. Cities have been built to orbit other planets so when the Earth is destroyed humanity will live.
The universe Mr. Liu created is so massive and detailed that it's hard to not believe it exists exactly as he wrote. He tells not only of Earth but of everything beyond too. The alien planet Trisolaris is given just as much detail as Earth. The Trisolarans have evolved into a society adapting to the hostile world of Trisolaras as depicted in The Three-Body Problem, a virtual reality program. Everything Mr. Liu describes, from civilizations to science to spaceships, real or not, all seems plausible. Throughout the book, it's easy to picture every nuance of every detail of every world.
This article could easily be 10-20 pages long if I dived into every aspect. Especially the philosophy behind every character, society, and action. I can't say anymore without giving away spoilers. All I can say is that this trilogy was one of the most advanced, in-depth, Sci-Fi stories I have ever read.