I know it’s easy to slag Netflix for constantly rolling out new titles and then canceling them just as quickly. (See Lockwood and Co. for a recent example.) Sometimes, it seems like the streaming giant uses a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” sort of strategy, especially as they clamp down on production budgets. That said, I’m cautiously excited for the upcoming 3 Body Problem.
The series is an adaptation of Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, the first book in his Remembrance of Earth’s Past series and the first Asian novel to ever win the Hugo award for “Best Novel.” The novel is an “alien invasion” story that begins during China’s Cultural Revolution and involves modern political conspiracies, heady scientific concepts (e.g., nanotechnology, quantum entanglement), virtual reality, and multi-dimensional supercomputers — among other things. There’s a lot to take in — it took me a few attempts to make it all the way through the novel — but it’s one of the more unique sci-fi titles I’ve read in a long time.
Netflix’s adaptation is being overseen by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss — the duo behind of Game of Thrones which, admittedly, is some cause for concern — but the above teaser is certainly intriguing. Given the novel’s ambitious nature and scope, Netflix’s adaptation could very well be a train wreck. That same scope, however, could result in something really unique and special.
In any case, it won’t be the first adaptation of Cixin’s novel. An animated adaptation made in Minecraft(!) was produced back in 2014. Originally a fan production, it became an official adaptation for its second and third seasons. (Fansubbed versions can be found on YouTube.) Zhang Fanfan directed a movie adaptation in 2015 that was never released due to the production company’s internal issues and concerns over the film’s quality. And finally, Tencent Video produced a Chinese TV adaptation that premiered in January 2023 to wide acclaim for its production quality, special effects, and faithfulness to the storyline.
3 Body Problem will will begin streaming next January and stars Rosalind Chao, Liam Cunningham, Eiza González, Jonathan Pryce, and Benedict Wong.