Part One of the “Three Body Problem” serves to set the historical context of Cixin Liu’s extraordinary novel. Within the first few pages, Liu dives into the social chaos created during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As prominent physicist Ye Zhetai is killed during a struggle session, his daughter, Ye Wenjie, is exposed to the horrendous persecution intellectuals faced at that time. These childhood experiences would deeply influence her, and drive her to the belief that only an outside “supernatural” force could enforce moral justice onto this world. Years later, Ye Wenjie is sent to a classified military base which, apparently, conducts scientific experiments – an act that was directly against the political principles of the state.
The first impression I had while reading the Three Body Problem was that Liu is amazingly imaginative. To set a sci-fi during the Chinese Cultural Revolution was no small feat of creativity. Although Part One is comparatively shorter, it does not make it any less important, and, at the end of page 48, the reader is left with an riddle to solve: what is the significance of the experiments conducted in military base?