3 Body Problem (US SF Series) - Netflix

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Netflix debuted the official full trailer for 3 Body Problem at CES in Las Vegas today, an eight-episode sci-fi series adapted from the award-winning novel The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, the first book in his Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy. The series was created by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones), and Alexander Woo (True Blood). CES attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a 3 Body Problem "immersive experience," intended to transport them "into the mysterious world of the series in a fun and experimental way."
 
Though Game of ThronesDavid Benioff and D.B. Weiss know a thing or two about adapting much-loved novels for the screen, their new series, created with Alexander Woo, presented some fresh challenges. Netflix’s 3 Body Problem draws from Liu Cixin’s award-winning The Three-Body Problem, as well as—out of necessity—the other books in his Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy.

“The guiding principle was to retain the spirit of the novels,” Woo told io9 in a roundtable interview for the series, speaking about how the show’s creators decided what to keep and what to change from the source material. “Do you want the same feeling of awe and wonder that you experience from reading the novels to be transferred to the series? However, it’s a completely different medium—and when you do that, changes do have to be made. One of the first ones is that we all, from our collective experiences, have a strong belief that the thing that propels you, from episode to episode and then season to season, is the characters. You can get as much whiz bang as you want on the screen, but it’s not going to mean anything unless you care about the people who are experiencing it.”

He continued. “So that led to the decision to pull some of the main characters from books two or three into season one—and have them have relationships with one another, have them know each other, have them cross paths, have them be in conflict or in love with each other. That was the origin of [the central characters known as] the Oxford Five. And once that was in place, we have to flesh out these characters in ways that that that was appropriate to that situation. That took over here maybe two years of doing, but that’s how that core group came to be.
“We would love to get to the end,” Benioff said when asked about the group’s best-case scenario for the future of the series. “There are three books in the trilogy, obviously. And the ending is incredibly beautiful. I think that last page is probably my favorite last page of any science fiction book that I’ve read. It’s this startling final image because it takes you to the end of time, the end of the universe, and in this incredible, mind-blowing cosmic way, wraps it all up in a very emotional, human manner. And it’s unexpected. I still remember exactly where I was when I read that final page, and that was when [Weiss and I] decided, and Alex came on a little bit later: this is the show we want to make. So the hope, the happy ending for us would be we get to tell the whole story—whether that’s three seasons, four seasons, we don’t know exactly yet. It would have to be at least three seasons.”
 
Taking place between China’s revolutionary 1960s and present day, where science appears to be “broken,” Netflix’s 3 Body Problem is a bracing new kind of sci-fi story from the creators of Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. We talked to three of the show’s central “Oxford Five” characters about bringing Liu Cixin’s award-winning book series to life.
 
The Wow! signal is one of the great astronomy puzzles of the past 50 years, but it's not so mysterious in the sci-fi universe of "3 Body Problem."

Netflix's new eight-episode alien invasion saga "3 Body Problem" uses the famous SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) signal as a prominent plot device in its wild centuries-spanning narrative.

The Wow! signal was an intense narrowband radio signal detected on the night of Aug. 15, 1977 by Ohio State University's Big Ear Radio Observatory and the North American Astrophysical Observatory (NAAPO) during a standard SETI search. No personnel were on duty at the time, yet the strong 72-second-long signal was recorded by a computer printer.
 
Oh well, Netflix has done it again and prevented people from taking screenshots. Regardless, the 3 Body Problem is out.

The whole saga opens up in the days in Chinese Cultural Revolution at latter part of the 1960's. At the heart of Cold War with the people going absolutely bonkers on Communist agenda denying everything from God to Science, because it didn't fit the manifest.

Having recently dealt with a description of Marx in AC Syndicate I can say I'm happy that I was born in a Communist country. He was a troublemaker and people believed in him, just like the brainwashed party members are behaving in the beginning of the episode, where they publicly lynch a psychics professor for speaking the truth.

A lot of science is theories that gets mended over time as the body of evidence points out that the theory in those parts are not absolute. It never can be so because it's a theory based on the current knowledge. Although, when you go down to textbooks, used in the classrooms, what is false might though as the truth. God forbids you if you happen to think with your own brain and use it to fulfil the essay question in the matter.

Just like what happen with the professor getting beaten by the thugs on the stage. Science could have proven that the guy was going to die under excessive beating, but it was ignored ...

Over fifty years later, we get to the main series through another death. This one happening somewhere in London, with the mysterious countdown painted with blood on the walls. In the SF terms, it usually means two things, aliens or the end of the world. Latter most likely involving some sort of TImeTravel dilemma, but I don't think we are dealing with the temporal anomaly in this one.

Especially as the victim was a Pakistani doctor specializing on studying the cosmos. The problem is that he is just another victim of the countdown. One who thought that he could take out his own eyes to stop the message, playing in his mind.

Not far away in Oxford Particle Accelator, another Dr is troubled because he's the last man working on the project that "proved all our science theories from past 60 years is wrong. Science is broken." Yet, the machines that made the measurement is based on those theories are working. So not everything is broken. Just Saul is feeling the pressures of the proof.

His boss says, "Einstein wasn't right about everything. If anyone can figure this out, it's you." Then she asks, "Saul, do you believe in God?"

Saul denies and goes on to claim that the results aren't "an argument for God."

"So what's left?" she asks.

I had that same very problem with the unexplainable, and the only solution I could figure out was the presence of the God. Only the agnostics deny it because they want to remain ignorant. What happens next is even more unexplainable as the next thing the boss walks into a neutron study lab (a humongous tank only present in Antarctica and Japan) and throws herself into a water (used as a capture medium).

The lab is there, but it doesn't have the tank.

Assuming not far away two boffins are talking about the problem is a pub, and it is revealed that: "All the particle accelerators started producing the same results nine months ago." Jin, the boffin lady then goes on to claim that she checked the CERN code, "line by line," and couldn't find the problem, when her friend Auggie suggests the anomaly being "A hack."

So what could it be? Man, aliens and their signals are weird, but this program brings them out differently.

A moment later Saul calls Auggie and she start to see the beginning of the countdown displayed on mobile screen. So the interesting question is why her? What makes her so special that she gets to see it?

Those are the questions in the mind of the murder investigation inspector tasked on the problem as he crosses out another boffin on his board of clues. Then it is revealed that all five bodies are presented, Jin Cheng, Augistina Salazar, Will Downing and Jack Rooney are present on the board, with him being the fifth main character trying to solve the case.

All boffins are present in the boss lady's funeral, with Auggie being the only one who can see the countdown, which itself is interesting because to my mind it's a telepathic signal that her brain cannot block. She reveals to Jin during the funeral that she's been to see a neurologists and the doctor have no clue.

I cannot blame them because the doctors can only go so far before they venture into the unknowns. And none of the papers talks about telepathic messages. Not if you ignore 'the fringe theories.'

After the funeral the boffins gather together in the pub, while the detective chases a strange person man-in-black climbing on an energy company helicopter. Auggie storms out from the meeting to have a smoke and she meets a young female, who claims she knows what's happening. And for typical boffin Auggie ignores her until she's pops the question about the countdown, "How much time do you have left?"

She then goes to claim, "It's an easy to make it stop. You put an end to your work. No more nanofibers. You shut down the lab," before she smiles and adds, "Simple."

But that's not an easy thing to do, to give up on your life works, and do something else. She then claims that Auggie doesn't want the countdown to get to zero, because "nothing good ever happens at zero." All Auggie needs to do is to give up on her life and look at the sky in next day midnight to see the universe winking.

Man, the tension is high at the halfway point, where we get to see another flashback from '67 with the CCP workers clearing mountains from forests. The professor's daughter is one of the workers, before she's approached by a reporter. He claims that on top of the mountain CCP is conducting strange experiments with the large parabolic dish, while down at the foot, the workers are destroying the environment without thinking about the consequences. Ones that he has read about in the pages of Western text book.

She reads it, falls in love, have sex with the reporter, and plant seeds in the clearing before the reporter sells her out. But she doesn't reveal to the Authorities the source of the book, when they come to collect her after camp search for forbidden items. Her punishment is imprisonment instead of a work camp.

The authorities offer her solution by making her to sign a paper that condemn people she had never met. She refuses to go down that route. So the authorities douse her with water and leave her to freeze in a cell, with no windows or heating.

It doesn't take long before she gets the fever and the authorities decides to take her out from the prison and transport her to top of the mountain with the big dish. It is a CCP military installation, and the party has needs for her talents in astronomy. It's either that or death. So she chooses the camp with special status and inability to post anything about her work to the science community.

Back in the present day, the Detective Inspector is revealed to work for the HQ of Strategic Intelligence Agency. HIs boss asks about the progress, which there isn't much, expect the photos showing Auggie talking to no-one in the steps where she had a fag. Then that the MiB is really an oil company boss, who has not seen in the public for over 50 years. And that Iranians have some sort of head device, probably to try to block the signal, before his boss goes to reval that DI has been sacked from the Scotland Yard, Mi5 and OSCT (Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism).

It is the helmet that is the McGuffin that leads Jin to discover the helmet at the boss lady's bedroom, where the mother claims Vera having been playing video games. The thing is that the helmet is nothing like our VR or AR headsets. It is too thin and have no traditional electronic displays. Vera's mum gifts it to Jin, before it is revealed that her mum was the professor's daughter at the dish.

At her place, Jin dons the helmet, which connects to her mind and transports her mind to 'grey desert.' At the past in time to see one of Chinese pyramids standing above the ground. The sun rises fast behind the pyramids and the desert is blasted with a wind. A blow that moves enough of sand to show a flayed corpse with no eyes.

Jin takes off the helmet and the scene returns to DI. All he wants is the helmet, because it is somehow connected to all of it. But how?

It is not revealed as the next scene is back at Auggie taking stoned Saul to a square to see the stars. She can still see the numbers getting down to 10 hours, before she gives Saul the code disk and reveales that it has not been manufactured since 1950's.

As the bell tolls, the pair looks up and see the sky light up from countless of stars, before they start to blink. Except it's not one but a code for the disk. Except it's not words but the numbers, the countdown ... for the arrival.

Very interesting beginning. I will write more about it later.
 
Is it the entire book or just lots of filler pages?
I found the initial 50 pages or so decent. Some insight into what went on in the cultural revolution. Powerful stuff, but more for the subject matter than for the quality of the writing. I think the first 50 pages draws people in; it feels like it might be an interesting read. After that though? Oh dear! Character development is non-existent. I never really had a feel for the characters, their personalities, strengths, weaknesses, passions. The policeman is probably the only character where you get a feel for a personality, and that is simply because he is a cut and paste tough guy cop (drawn from any number of cheap, stereotyped crime shows). There is an enormous amount of energy expended (several chapters) on a computer game based around the '3-body problem'. It never really makes much sense. What is the purpose of the game and why was it created? What was the perceived benefit? And most of the hard science - for folks who like that sort of thing - is complete mumbo jumbo (like cutting a ship in half with a nano wire). Way too much energy is spent on elements of the story that don't matter, while some potentially interesting aspects are glossed over. You really get a feeling that the writer has no idea how to pace a story and keep a readers attention. Its a fragmented and, as I said, tedious read.
 
To be fair, it reads better in the original Chinese.
Yes, I wondered about that. But I don't see how the fundamental problems with the book can be explained by poor translation. And presumably most of the folks who inexplicably voted for it to get the Hugo Award read the translated version.
 
First episode left me cold. The production values are all there, however as one poster said above it is tedious. Hopefully it will improve with the next episode.
 
I just finished the first episode on Netflix. I have not read the source material, but I have watched the 30 episode Tencent Chinese version.
( discussion here if you are interested)
The Netflix first episode packs a lot in--by the end you know what you are up against and that
science is broken
. In the Tencent version, it took about 20 episodes to get there. It gave you more time to think about what was going on, and work through the details for yourself, which I enjoyed. There is something about slowly pacing through revelations along with the characters that is very satisfying.
I did not think it was time wasted, as I enjoyed the slow burn and reveal.
Netflix's characters are more generic, and (obviously) Western-centric, so I missed the immersion in Chinese culture and quirky subtitles.
I'm not one to be distracted (or even notice) by CGI production values. I suspect that Netflix is better in that department.
I think I will continue the series, but at this point, I'm finding it subpar to the Chinese version.
 

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