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How to pretend to have read ‘The Three-Body Problem’ in two minutes

The Three-Body


The Three-Body Problem spans multiple decades and characters, but it zooms in on Ye Wenjie and Wang Miao, two scientists in the very near future. Wenjie is an astrophysicist, while Miao is a nanotech engineer, and he's been swept up in a virtual-reality, online video game called Three Body that's so deeply metaphysical, it's begun to resemble acult.

《三体I:地球往事》(后边简称《三体》)这本书里前后跨了好几十年,人物角色众多,但它的视角却锁定在叶文洁和汪淼身上。在不久的将来,他俩是科学家——叶文洁是一名天体物理学家,而汪淼则是一名纳米技术工程师,他被卷入了一款名为"三体"的网络电子游戏。其中的虚拟现实场景极为玄妙,渐渐变得犹如一门宗教。

 

Either of these premises alone would be make for a rich SF novel, but Cixin Liu is only getting warmed up. By the time the book hits its peak, it's unveiled a conspiracy thatspans solar systems — one that not only threatens to alter the human race, but the very building blocks of physics that we've evolved to understand.

以上这些前题中的任何一个都可造就一本内容丰富的科幻小说,而它们仅是刘慈欣这本小说中的热身环节而已。此书在达到高潮之际,向读者揭晓了一场遍布太阳系的阴谋。这场阴谋不仅会威胁到人类种族的安稳,还将彻底颠覆人类在进化过程中悟出的物理科学原理。

 

This hard SF is full of lovingly lengthy passages of technical exposition about everything from quantum mechanics to artificial intelligence. But Cixin Liu supports all of that brain twisting theory with empathetic characters and a strong action-thriller backbone.

在这本硬科幻小说中,作者好心地为科技博览做长段阐释,从量子力学再到人工智能。而刘慈欣创造出引人共鸣的诸多人物,并营造惊悚动作片的浓郁氛围,来展现所有这些烧脑的理论。

 

For all its universal appeal, The Three-Body Problem is set against a specific backdrop, one that most English-language readers only know from a distance. Many of its major points hinge on the knowledge of Chinese history and culture — and while Ken Liu's translation is clear, tasteful, and lyrical, there's a lot of exposition to chew on. It's worth every ounce of effort. The book's well-earned suspense hinges on moral dilemmas thatresonate far beyond its nationality or even its heady, abstract physics.

《三体》这本书老少皆宜,其设定在一个特定的背景下,因此大部分说英文的读者不为熟知。书中的许多重点建立在中国的历史与文化基础上——不过刘宇昆的英译本脉络清晰、耐人寻味而又韵律十足。其中许多表述值得读者花上些功夫细细品读。书中所展现的道德困境远远挣脱了民族,甚至是那令人头晕的抽象物理知识(的束缚)。

 

At what point does science become dogma, and what point does that same dogma become religion? Cixin Liu doesn't pose that question so much as let it play out in a sweeping drama that risks the highest stakes imaginable. If The Three-Body Problem (and the next two books in the series, whose translations are in the works) helps bridgethe gap between Eastern and Western SF, it will have performed a great duty for the literary world.

在何时科学成为教条,又是何时那教条会发展成宗教信仰?刘慈欣并没有提出这样的问题,他只是让问题本身在这场恢弘磅礴的舞台大戏中粉墨登场。如若《三体I:地球往事》(《三体》系列的后两部也在被英译)能帮助拉近东西方科幻小说的距离,那么它将在文学界担负起巨大的责任。

2016-06-23

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