If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember how much I love Liu Cixin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past series. Which is more commonly known both in English and Chinese as just The Three-Body Problem or Three-Body ( 三体, San ti) series. The main trilogy consists of The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End. A glorified fanfic called The Redemption of Time completes the series. And no, I’m not being mean, The Redemption of Time is a fanfic, written by Baoshu (Li Jun).
In recent days, it has been announced that an English language TV adaptation of Three-Body was coming to Netflix. In charge of the adaptation would be David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, who you probably remember from Game of Thrones. Yaaaay? I can tell you right now, I have some mixed feelings about this.
One one hand, Fuck you Benioff and Weiss for ruining Game of Thrones.
On the other hand, the ending of Game of Thrones would not have hurt so much if the series as a whole had not been an amazing experience. Benioff and Weiss’s work adapting the books was exceptional
But on the other other hand, They just didn’t care! They were offered more seasons, they were told they had enough story left to last them about three more seasons, but they decided to wrap it up with one six episode season. They were tired of doing Game of Thrones and wanted to stop. Well, the story for Three-Body starts in the 1960s and finishes at the heat death of the universe. Past that if you count The Redemption of Time. This is a big project, with a lot of lore and history to cover. I don’t think my heart can take being given another great TV show that fizzles out and rushes everything at the end because the showrunners got bored.
On the other hand, because I have four hands now apparently, the Three-Body trilogy is complete. There is also a 400 page fanfic out there full of extra details that has been approved by the author. Benioff and Weiss are good at adaptations. They brought George R. R. Martin’s world to life and made it absolutely epic. Most of the bad parts of the series are parts where they didn’t have a book to go off.
I also think that part of the problem with Game of Thrones can be attributed to the books and the TV show falling on completely opposite ends of the ‘Pantser vs Plotter’ writing divide. George R. R. Martin is a ‘Pantser’. He makes a complex character, puts them in a situation, then just ‘writes by the seat of his pants’. Which is a great way to get super long books with no ending in sight. The Game of Thrones writers are ‘Plotters’. They plan out how the story will go and make sure their characters follow the plan. This is how you get Daenarys to go completely evil without the necessary buildup. Three-Body is different from A Song of Ice and Fire though. Whilst it has a human element, there are much bigger things influencing the plot of Three-Body. You know, like aliens that do not think an act the way human characters would, and the nature of the universe itself. Three-Body is plot driven, rather than character driven. I think it would be a better fit for Plotters to adapt than ASOIAF.
I guess what I’m saying, is that despite how betrayed I feel about the end of Game of Thrones, I feel optimistic about this news. Yeah, I guess I really do.
Other names attached to the adaptation include Rian Johnson, the director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as part of the creative team. Alexander Woo, who developed The Terror, will be a writer and executive producer. The production companies Plan B Entertainment and Primitive Streak will also be involved, and author Cixin Liu himself, along with book translator Ken Liu, will be onboard as consulting producers.
This show will not be the first attempt to bring Three-Body to screens. A Chinese movie was filmed in 2015, and has been postponed indefinitely. The stated reason is internal shuffling at producer Yoozoo, though there are also rumors that the ‘bad quality’ of the film’s first cut plays a role.
There has been another adaptation of the series though. With Minecraft. English subtitles can be found here.
I am optimistic about seeing Three-Body on TV. It’s a great book it’s a great series that explores some really mind bending concepts. The visuals in some parts are going to be so trippy. Also, I just like seeing hard Science Fiction reaching a mainstream audience.
If you are into hard SF, or interested in Chinese speculative fiction, I’d definitely recommend the Three-Body series. And if you don’t get around to reading it, hopefully there’ll be a good TV show of it in a few years.