Exciting news for fans of science fiction literature! China’s biggest science fiction novel, The Three-Body Problem, is being adapted for television according to The Verge! The science fiction epic novel has become a phenomenon in China and received international acclaim. Written by Liu Cixin, who has won the Galaxy Award nine times, the 2017 Locus Award, and the 2015 Huge Award. He has written numerous acclaimed science fiction books, including The Wandering Earth,Ball Lightning, and also two sequels to The Three-Body Problem. A film adaptation of The Wandering Earth, released in February 2019, became the second highest grossing film in China in only two weeks!
The Three-Body Problem was published in 2006 and begins in the backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. A dissident exile is sent to a remote research facility and makes first contact there with a hostile alien species known as Trisolarans. She learns the aliens are planning to take over Earth. The novel skips ahead to the modern day afterward, following a team of scientists preparing for the aliens arrival. The novels themes not only deal with the alien invasion but the nature of the universe itself.
The novel has been attempted to be adapted before, first as a short film by director Fanfan Zhang but was shelved due to quality issues. However, interest in Cixin’s work picked up again with the release of The Wandering Earth, especially after it was picked up and began streaming on Netflix. Chinese production company YooZoo Entertainment holds the rights to the series and is reportedly developing it for television. The series is planned to run as a 24 part series and is slated (unofficially) to begin shooting this September. While no further information is available at this time, it’s not hard to imagine that Netflix might stream the series as it did for The Wandering Earth.
We’ll keep you updated as further information comes out. But are you excited to see this Chinese science fiction epic adapted for the television screen? Let us know in the comments!
Probably because it’s the heart-palpitating summer read you’ve (or at least I’ve) been waiting for.
I wrote an article earlier this year about how Netflix was adapting Blake Crouch’s yet-to-be-released novel Recursion; my only familiarity with Blake Crouch at that time was hisWayward Pines Trilogy and his novel, Dark Matter—the cake-hole blowing, mind-bender about a man desperately navigating the multiverse in order to return home to his family. If that article was to have matured, wrinkled and become the middle-aged version of its relatively naïve self, it would be this article. A not-so-book-review book review aimed to inform the world of the glorious ride that is Recursion (and its future with *our Lord and savior* Netflix).
*Cue angels singing*
Strap in and get comfortable—it’s going to be a bumpy ride. That’s the advice I would give to anyone about to read Blake Crouch’s newest novel, Recursion. Scratch that; the ride contains fewer bumps and more of the type of sudden drops experienced on a roller-coaster that has no business allowing four-foot-tall children to experience it. Exhilarating, panic-inducing, “OMG did I tell my mom I loved her this morning” madness.
Allow me to backpedal. Like the climb to the top of a track, Recursion is a story of building momentum. The book begins on November 2, 2018, and follows protagonist Barry. Barry is a detective with the NYPD, attempting to talk a woman out of jumping from the top of the Poe Building and to her death (obviously). The woman, Ann is suffering from a worldwide pandemic known as False Memory Syndrome (FMS)—a condition where the infected remember whole other lives that they supposedly never had. Ann remembers a husband and a son. Barry tries to relate to Ann’s emptiness, confiding in her the fact that he lost a daughter years earlier.
“At least she once existed.”
…I’m sure you can guess what happens next.
The beginning of Blake Crouch’s novel is undeniably cinematic, as is the whole story. At the center of the plot is the aforementioned NYPD detective and Helena, a scientist who, motivated by her mother’s Alzheimer’s, devotes herself to research which involves mapping the human brain—memory. Although a lot of what revolves around these characters could (by snobby losers) be dismissed as overtly cinematic and arguably mainstream; this thriller is one of the most gripping, moving, and coherent epics you will read this year. The stakes continue to rise as the characters’ reality literally crumbles… over and over.
The science seems to make sense (from the perspective of someone who got a D + in Physics); it never feels like Crouch is reaching with his theories or explanations. I might go as far as call him the Christopher Nolan of literature. A contemporary mastermind of thought-provoking and emotional storytelling.
Entertainment Weekly caught up with Crouch to talk about all things Recursion—they called it his “his most personal (and trippy) novel yet.” He divulges his inspiration for the novel as well as talks about the Netflix deal made nine months before the books’ publication last week. A film and series are in the works. Here’s a long and shamelessly exploited excerpt from that interview:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You mentioned this was project was really close to your heart. Why was it so personal? Did you find it challenging to execute? Was there any significant inspiration?
BC: This was a really, really hard book. This is definitely the hardest book I’ve ever done. I wanted it to do things that no other book I’d read had managed to do — without getting into spoiler territory, in the back half of the book, reality actually begins to disintegrate for our characters. I wanted to dramatize what that looks like. Michael Crichton [is an influence] for sure. I feel like he’s always looking over my shoulder and I’m looking over his. The way he would pick a scientific topic, whether it’s Chaos Theory or DNA manipulation, in each book he did he was tackling a piece of science. I feel a lot of inspiration from his body of work.
EW: Talk a little bit more about the idea behind the book.
BC: Coming off of Dark Matter, which was probably my breakout book, there was a bit of pressure: “How do you top that? What do you say that you haven’t already said before?” I kept thinking about, what is the thing that’s fundamental to the human experience? The more research and the more time I spent studying, I kept coming back to memory, and the way that memory is even more than incredible than we think it is. It sounds very obvious to say that our memories make us who we are. It’s even more than that. It’s fundamental to the way that we experience reality.
EW: So how did you want to play with that?
BC: Here’s a thought experiment, if you’ll indulge me: Imagine we’re sitting across from each other. Wherever you are, you’d see my image coming to you at the speed of light, and you’d hear my words coming a lot slower — still very fast, 600 miles per hour. What our brain does it holds the image that you see of me until the words arrive, and then it would sync the visual and the audio at the same time. The upshot of this is it’s about a half-second delay — which means that we are living in memory. We never experience what we think of as the present moment. Even the present moment is just this tape-delay, half-second reconstruction of what the present was a half-second ago. We live in memory. We live in our working memory.
EW: And of course, this is on the way to Netflix. It was announced as a major deal with Shonda Rhimes and Matt Reeves adapting the book into a movie and a series. What does that look like to you? What can you share about the development process so far?
BC: When it did come time to think about selling it to Hollywood, I was like, “I don’t know how this is going to work. This is definitely not a two-hour movie, but it feels bigger than the small screen, too.” I went into the process a little bit on edge — I was concerned that people wouldn’t see it the way I was seeing it. Remarkably, Shonda, Matt, and Netflix just stepped up like, “Hey, we know how to do this.” It’s very early days, in development, but I believe the plan is to launch it as a movie on Netflix, which can then spin off into multiple TV series. There are single sentences in the book that could be an entire season of television, that we just blow right past. The cool thing about a streamer like Netflix, which is breaking down the boundaries between film and television and what we can and can’t do, is it was sort of made for a book like this. Netflix was made for, “Let’s let the book be what it wants to be when it becomes a visual medium.” When they pitched it to me, they were like, “We’re envisioning this as a universe.” It’s exciting.
Recursion is one of those books you can’t stop reading because you have so many questions that NEED answers. How do you just go about your day not knowing? The last time I neglected all responsibilities and read until my vision blurred was with Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. With Recursion, I read it in one sitting. A solid seven hours. I’m not sure if I’m proud of that or vaguely embarrassed. Other people were out in the world working over the course of those seven hours—diligently contributing to the machine that is society. Laughing, loving and experiencing. I allowed Blake Crouch to do all the living for me. AND THERE ARE LIFETIMES IN HIS NEWEST NOVEL.
Crouch’s novel admirably tackles humanity and what it means to exist. I walked away from that reading experience feeling a little bit better about my own circumstances. As the characters develop and make peace with their subsequent reality, so does the reader. I will watch the heck out of this, Netflix.
Each week, Bookstr will be offering a look at some of the best novels in a particular genre for your continued reading list. Today, we’ll be recommending five recent science fiction and fantasy novels for your reading pleasure. Sci-Fi and fantasy novels provide gateways into other worlds, full of aliens, monsters, magic, and cool technology while addressing themes that cannot be showcased in nonfiction reading. Here are some of the top five recent ones!
5. Ship of Smoke and steel by Django Wexler
This young adult novel tells the story of a young named Isoka in a fantasy world full of great cinematic battles and a mysterious ships. Isoka follows a group of thugs, forced to obey their orders. This dirty work helps her feed her sister, who lives in the slums of the city they call home. But after her magic gets her arrested, Isoka is tasked with a quest to redeem herself: finding the mysterious ghost ship Soliton, a ship all who have gone after have died trying to steal. But Isoka must try to find it if she wants to escape with her life. Isoka journeys with a crew across the land, finding terrible monsters and forming a romance with a charming rogue. This a great, action-heavy book with intrigue and plenty of world-building to keep fans invested.
4. Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg
Image via Amazon
Smoke & Summonsis a wild and inventive fantasy novel that centers around a unique protagonist called Sandis. Sandis is the host of ancient, dark entity that can transform her without warning into a monster at any time. When this happens, she becomes horribly dangerous to others around her, becoming a violent engine of destruction. A servant to a dark master, Sandis finally runs away from home and flees across the land, as her master pursues her with all he has, Sandis not just in danger from him but herself as well.
3. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Image via Amazon
A standalone fantasy novel, this book follows a pair who are somewhere between god and human. The twins understand the world differently than others, with the male twin, Roger, understanding the world through words/stories while his sister, Dodger, through math/numbers. Their creator is an alchemist called Reed, who plans to help their reach their full potential but truly wishes to steal their power for his own. This is a great book with an intriguing premise and two very unique protagonists at its center.
2. Last Tango in Cyberspace by Steven Kotler
Image via Amazon
Last Tango In Cyberspacetells of a dystopia in the near future where emotions have become a commodity, suppressed and studied. An ’emotional forecaster’ of this world, Lion Zorn, tracking emotional changes in the world and informs his employers of various changes in emotional perspective. While doing some digging in emotional perspectives, Lion discovers a terrible murder and is brought into a massive conspiracy full of gritty assassins, terrorists, and more. This is a mystery novel speculating what the future could be like, based on technology that already exists or is in development.
1. The Ruin of Kings by Jenn lyons
Image Via Amazon
An epic fantasy tale, The Ruin of Kings tells of a man called Kihrin. He is a man broken and imprisoned, with nothing to do to pass the time but tell his tale to his keeper. A rough childhood as a thief in the slums of Quur has given Kihrin a unique set of skills—skills that become useful when he is recognized as missing prince of a major house of Quur and is imprisoned in a palace full of scheming nobles. When Kihrin learns that the stone around his neck is a powerful device that will protect the wearer, he begins to understand his place in the plans of other far more powerful players in a game that is bigger than he can imagine. This is a great fantasy book, told in a long flashback that unfolds to become bigger and bigger across the story. Pick it up if you haven’t already!
Another sad passing in the world of literature. Gene Wolfe, a massively influential figure who was praised by famed authors such as George R.R. Martin, Ursula K. Le Guin and Neil Gaiman, has passed away. According to The GuardianGene Wolfe died at the age of eighty-seven, leaving behind a famous body of work. His magnum opus is The Book of the New Sun , which ranked only third in a fantasy magazine of the best fantasy novels, behind only The Lord of the Ringsand The Hobbit.Taking placing in an apocalyptic earth where mankind has regressed to a medieval era, the novels blended science fiction and fantasy to become something wholly unique.
Image Via Amazon
Wolfe’s passing was mourned by his longtime publisher, Tor, and numerous other authors in the industry. Tor said he was a ‘beloved icon’ and will be ‘dearly missed’ while leaving behind a body of work that will live on forever in SF fame. Neil Gaiman praised Wolfe’s work, saying he was possibly the finest American writer who ever lived. George R.R. Martin considers him the best the science fiction genre has produced, while Le Guin said he was ‘our Melville’. For his efforts, Gene Wolfe received the title of grand master of science fiction in 2012. Wolfe himself had earlier noted his early work out of college was terrible and he was living from paycheck to paycheck before he became famous.
Gene Wolfe leaves behind a legacy of his great work, as well as being hugely influential on the writer’s community around him, inspiring others to create worlds. We salute you, Wolfe, and will remember your work forever.
Ultron was a dick. Hal 9000 was a liability. Wintermute + Neuromancer= bad. The eternal struggle of man vs. machine has inspired a plethora of literature regarding the topic. If there is one thing we have learned from the cautionary tales of science fiction—it’s that artificial intelligence is probably not a good thing. Worst case scenario, human beings create self-aware machines that ultimately rebel and replace us as the dominant species.
The sometimes swift and other times comfortingly slow (if the predictions that exist in popular fiction are any indication) advancement of artificial intelligence has startled some of the greatest minds in history. People who rely on technology. Stephen Hawking wasn’t pleased, Bill Gates has expressed fear and Elon Musk once urged people at the highest levels of government to slow the f down. Still, no group of people has been able to better articulate the growing concern of artificial intelligence than writers. Stan Lee, Samuel Butler, William Gibson, Frank Herbert, H.G Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, Ann Leckie, Martha Wells, and Mary Shelly; all of these writers and MANY more played with themes of technology and the danger of playing God.
Ironically, things have now come full circle. Writers are needed to aid with the development of Siri—the “chick” is a dial tone (I’m going to put every pronoun in quotes because she’s technically not a she). Apparently, the female-voiced ominous agent of societal collapse lacks relatability. In an article published on Thinknum Media‘s website, it was reported that Apple is looking to hire teams of writers and editors to help improve the way their virtual assistant, Siri, communicates. The goal is to make Apple’s low-key mischievious “madame” more engaging. Siri’s popularity is in peril as she lacks the amount of sports knowledge, anecdotes and incidental information necessary to succeed as an A.I. I guess people are just doing things themselves due to a lack of interest in Siri’s narrative? God/secular tyrants built by us forbid. The adjectives “witty” and “funny” were used to describe the way in which they would like “her” to be improved.
Thinknum Media has tracked hiring data over the past few months and found job posts that revolve around making the digital assistant more entertaining. Various job listings aim to recruit engineers with a deep knowledge of and appreciate for particular subjects; however, the top postings are of the literary variety—-a Siri Editorial Manager and an International Creative Writer, as seen above.
Siri, along with her cohorts Alexa and Google, have helped us play our favorite songs, schedule various appointments, and order food (for which we are forever grateful)…It’s worth mentioning that I am more of a Droid fan and have no idea what Siri is capable of…Should the literary community lend “her” a pinch of the quirkiness that is invaluable and unique to human beings? Maybe we owe it to “her.” I for one think that this particular form of magic should not be lent to a potential threat. The kind of magic that is often a beautiful result of chance or sometimes something that took hours of hair pulling, chain-smoking, and rewriting to lend to a fictional character conceived in our mind.
So I implore writers and editors reading this to harbor their wit. Don’t apply to those available positions. Save it for your friends, family members, and star-struck groupies who follow you on your book tour when you inevitability publish the next great cautionary tale of scientific corruption. Save it for the page.
…but if you are unemployed and REALLY need some income…I guess go for it. I mean I did apply; although this article probably offsets any good my brown-nosing cover letter did.
Featured Image Via Apple.com/Images Via Media.thinknum.com