Books Like THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM that Explore Humanity’s Role in Space


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Addison Rizer is a writer and reader of anything that can be described as weird, sad, or scary. She has an MA in Professional Writing and a BA in English. She writes for Book Riot and Publishers Weekly and is always looking for more ways to gush about the books she loves. Find her published work or contact her on her website or at addisonrizer at gmaildotcom.

Looking for more books like The Three-Body Problem? One of the biggest clues for me that a book is all the rage is an impending Netflix show/movie, and Cixin Lui’s The Three-Body Problem, part of his Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy, is no different. With a Netflix series slated to release in March, this Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel explores the Earth’s first contact with aliens who turn their energy toward overtaking the planet in light of their own civilization failing. On Earth, society is divided by how to handle the impending collision of the species, with some people welcoming their arrival and others taking up arms against it. It’s big on world-building as the story expands across solar systems and pokes at what we think is to be true about the world we live in.

For those of you who haven’t jumped into the series yet, though, there is one thing to be aware of before you do. In an interview with The New Yorker, the novel’s author, Cixin Liu, was verbally supportive of the internment of Muslim Uighurs (or Uyghurs) in Xinjiang. According to an article on the Council on Foreign Relations website, the Chinese government has “detained more than a million Muslims in reeducation camps since 2017,” and a majority of Ugyhur are “subjected to intense surveillance, forced labor, and involuntary sterilizations, among other rights abuses.” Liu’s comment has led to some asking Netflix to reconsider the upcoming adaptation of the book.

So, if you’re in the mood for science fiction books like The Three-Body Problem, whether you’ve read The Three-Body Problem and want something similar, or if you’d rather focus your time and money elsewhere, here are eight great options for you!

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

When humans must leave Earth in search of a new planet, they find a planet seemingly perfectly suited for their survival. Too bad a scientist’s nanovirus has mutated a new kind of spider species on the surface of the new world. Now, humans and this species collide in a desperate attempt to keep their species alive.

Cover of Hyperion by Dan Simmons

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

In the distant future, humans abandoned Earth and now live across planets connected by portals that allow them to travel far and fast. A tense alliance between humanity and AIs called Hegemony selects seven people to make the trip to the relatively unknown planet Hyperion. As tensions rise and galactic war breaks out, the seven share their stories as they make their way to humanity’s last hope.

Cover of Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

When the moon shatters unexpectedly, humans escape Earth before the consequences can wipe them out of existence. Now, in orbit with the International Space Station on Cloud Ark, the remaining humans develop societies in orbit of the planet they left behind. But infighting erupts, and damage threatens the little chance at survival they have left.

Book cover of Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

Dawn by Octavia E. Butler

After nuclear war ravishes Earth, human Lilith Iyapo is in a prison-like cell being asked questions over and over again by not-quite-human creatures. She learns she was one of a few humans saved from the no-longer-habitable Earth by an alien race in the middle of a war. As Lilith bonds with one of the alien species, she learns about their ways, and they learn from her, too.

Book cover of Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

For bite-sized science fiction stories, this anthology is a must-read. The titular story, “Story of your Life,” is a novella-length story of first contact following a linguist and a physicist as they learn an alien’s language and the ways it changes how humans see reality forever. For bonus content, the novella is the basis for the film Arrival!

Cover of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

After humanity discovers a radio broadcast of beautiful music from a far-off world, the Society of Jesus sends the first expedition to Rakhat. On the world, the Father Emilio and the other members of the expedition find a whole new way of life in this first-contact story. But this expedition soon meets obstacles, and only one will make it out alive.

the cover of The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Genly Ai is sent as an ambassador from the galactic group Ekumen to the planet of Gethen to convince them to join their group. But the cold planet and its strange culture are not easy for Genly to understand or cope with. With communication difficult, Genly struggles to find some connection or common ground on the planet.

Cover of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

When an alien ship falls into the water, Adaora, Agu, and Anthony happen to be on the beach, where one of the shape-shifting aliens, Ayodele, emerges to make first contact. Now, the go-betweens for this new species and the human race, the three must carefully navigate the reactions of society around them to this new development. As fighting erupts, the stability of humanity hangs in the balance.


I hope one of these science fiction books like The Three-Body Problem caught your eye.

If you’re in the mood for more book recommendations, no matter how specific, why not check out Book Riot’s own Tailored Book Recommendations (TBR) service? When you sign up, you’ll fill out a survey all about what you love and hate and what you’re looking for and a professional book recommender, called a bibliologist, will work their magic to get you three recommendations suited just for you. With options to get just the recommendations or physical copies of your recommendations, there’s sure to be a plan that works for you!

a gif with the text: Tailored Book Recommendations: Real Book Nerds Making Tailored Recommendations That Are Really, Really Good



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