The problem of the three bodies in Spain

The television adaptation of The Three-Body Problem, one of the most famous science fiction novels of recent years, the work of Chinese writer Liu Cixin, has just been released.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
30 March 2024 Saturday 10:21
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The problem of the three bodies in Spain

The television adaptation of The Three-Body Problem, one of the most famous science fiction novels of recent years, the work of Chinese writer Liu Cixin, has just been released. The Netflix version, very Westernized, is gaining an audience, although some reports maintain that the managers of the American platform expected more. It is not easy to transfer to television language, which requires speed, rushing emotions and a high capacity for synthesis, a complex story in which Mao's exalted red guards, the fortitude of the persecuted scientists, radio telescopes that search for extraterrestrial civilizations in full cultural revolution, messages that come and go, problems of celestial mechanics, a powerful virtual reality suit, politics and philosophy, notes on spatial sociology and fear of the unknown, all of this threaded together by a detective investigation. The novel is fascinating.

I read The Three-Body Problem in the summer of 2018, following recommendations from Sergio Vila-Sanjuán. It seemed to me an intelligent vindication of Chinese civilization. A subtle warning to the West about the high degree of development of the scientific mentality in China, whose fictional stories are already capable of competing with the best Anglo-American fables. With Russia discarded, gripped by the shadow of Ivan the Terrible in the barracks of the Federal Security Service, the unstoppable Chinese technological development begins to challenge the United States on the last frontier: that of scientific imagination, that of encounters in the third phase . China, the Country of the Center, also aspires to represent all of humanity in a hypothetical contact with extraterrestrial civilizations. This is one of the keys to the story of Liu Cixin, a hydroelectric plant engineer before devoting himself to writing.

The success of the novel has been so great that it already has a crime on its back. Fourteen years ago, Liu sold the film rights to a group of Chinese filmmakers for a handful of dollars. As more copies of the novel were sold, the rights were resold to a billionaire named Lin Qi, owner of the video game company Yoozoo, who began negotiating astronomical figures with Amazon and Netflix. After closing the agreement with Netflix in 2020, Lin Qi was murdered by the CEO of his company, through poisoning. This has just been ruled by a Shanghai court that has sentenced to death the poisoner, named Xu Yao, who used toxins to kill his wealthy boss. The author has shown himself to be “terrified” by this story and by the speculative spiral of the rights to a novel that fifteen years ago could have seemed marginal. Over the last decade, China has become passionate about science fiction, which can also be interpreted as a sign of the unstoppable expansion of its middle classes. A certain accommodation is needed to begin to consider existential problems based on the imaginary dialogue with an exoplanet of the Alpha Centauri star system subjected to a crazy orbital dance. The great merit of The Three-Body Problem, of which there is also a Chinese television version, is the large number of suggestions it contains. “It's a wildly imaginative novel,” said former President Barack Obama.

Liu Cixin's work is so suggestive that analogies could even be sought with Spanish politics. The novel tells us about a complex orbital system. The three stars of Alpha Centauri are a torment for the planet Trisolaris. The instability of the orbits makes it impossible to accurately predict stable eras and chaotic eras. A long period of stability allows civilization to thrive, but a blazing sun can appear over the horizon at any time. The people of Trisolaris have two goals: refine a prediction model of the three stellar orbits and find a relatively nearby planet that can be invaded and colonized. You can already guess which one it is.

Spanish politics revolves around three systems in dance: Europe, Madrid DF and the autonomies. While the European orbit has remained stable, the other two bodies have moved in relative harmony. Madrid DF has gained volume and luminosity, and the third body, formed by sixteen spheres always pending Catalonia, has remained more or less aligned. The moment the European orbit goes haywire, everything else goes haywire. It happened during the last economic crisis. And it can happen again now with the winds of war coming from Eastern Europe. European politics is a big question today. Spanish politics is an almost unsolvable tie possessed by fury, and the autonomous spheres, with the right to call elections when it suits them, make any orbital calculation almost impossible. The variables are increasing.

We live in Trisolaris and strange signs begin to be seen in the sky. Yesterday, the CSIC reported the mysterious flight of an artificial car from France, which on Friday at midnight would have flown over the Mediterranean coast to the south of Valencia. First they opted for the possibility that it was a ballistic missile. A missile. A missile fired from France to mock Spain's defenses and greet the countries of North Africa? Once the alarm was triggered, the Institute of Space Sciences corrected: possible re-entry of an artificial object into the Earth's atmosphere.

Chúpate esta, Liu Cixin.