3 Body Problem: Catch Up On the Books Before the Show

3 Body Problem: Catch Up On the Books Before the Show
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Netflix’s latest addictive blockbuster series, 3 Body Problem, hits streaming today (March 21), and it brings Cixin Liu’s complex Chinese-language science fiction books to the screen for an international audience. If you’re keen to read the source material before diving into the show, or maybe you’re eager to know what happens after the closing chapters of Season 1, here’s what you need to know about reading the 3 Body Problem books.

3 Body Problem series: How many books are there?

The three body problem refers to a complex astrophysics equation that is explored in an otherwordly way in Liu’s Remembrance of Earth Past trilogy. The plot follows a fictional Earth in the past, present and future as humanity prepares to deal with an otherwordly existential threat.

The first novel was written and published in Chinese in 2008, before Ken Liu translated it into English for publication in 2014. It went on to become the first Asian novel to ever win a Hugo Award.

The Three-Body Problem is the first of three novels in the series. Here’s how to read the Remembrance of Earth Past trilogy in order:

  1. The Three-Body Problem (2006)
  2. The Dark Forest (2008)
  3. Death’s End (2010)

The books are all available to buy individually, as a collection or in audiobook format.

How much of the books does the Netflix series cover?

If you didn’t know, Netflix’s 3 Body Problem is brought to you by Alexander Woo, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the latter of whom also brought us the Game of Thrones TV adaptation on HBO.

This time, with all the books already published, the showrunners have pulled pieces from the entire trilogy right from the start of 3 Body Problem. Certain characters who are introduced at the outset of the series aren’t involved until Liu’s later books, and some events occur earlier than they might in the novels.

But, for the most part, Netflix’s adaptation effectively covers off the plot of the first novel, The Three Body Problem, in its first eight episodes.

The producers have said that if the show were to continue, they’d probably need three or four seasons in total to cover the entirety of the trilogy. But if you’re just trying to keep up with the show, reading through The Three-Body Problem will basically get you up to speed. If you can’t bear to wait for more, be sure to pick up The Dark Forest and Death’s End as well.

Lead Image: Netflix/Tor Books


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