Saturday, March 30, 2024

The silence of the lords. A review of the 3 Body Problem on Netflix.

I have finished watching episodes 1-8 of the 3 Body Problem on Netflix, based on the novel by Cixin Liu. The most interesting idea of the story, for me, was the association of the anti-scientific sentiments of the Cultural Revolution and the need for the aliens to contain the advancement's of earth's science until the arrival of their fleet. This viewpoint has some critical depth, as would be obvious even for a casual thinker.

It was intriguing to see a Chinese character (a female scientist) play a pivotal role in the course of humanity, by inviting the visit and interference into the matters of humanity by aliens. The historical background and context for this act is poignant, and perhaps resonates with the surge of pride of the Chinese people in recent decades in indirect and implicit ways.

Once kickstarted, the confrontations between the alien civilization and humans are mainly carried out by people in the Western civilization, by the UK, US, and UN specifically. Otherwise the drama would have perhaps lacked the crucial geopolitical balance.

The three body problem simulation game is a very original idea of the novel, and has been adapted well into the Netflix series. It also serves as a backdrop for the entire story, providing the rationale for the unpredictability of the plot.

The supposed omnipotence of the surveillance and execution on earth by the remote alien civilization is needless to say scientifically dubious, but may be deemed necessary for the sake of drama. However, the ubiquitous eye of the alien civilization poses a  unique challenge for story development, for obvious reasons. Maybe there is something inherently self-contradictory in the very idea of omnipotence, an issue not sufficiently pursued by this particular drama, making the silence of the "lords" in 3 Body Problem less profound compared to the "Silence" of God in Shusaku Endo's eponymous novel. On the flip side, this would be a testimony to the fact that the novel and the Netflix series have tackled a challenging task in entertainment making with great success, and the quest would go on in the second series, hopefully.

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