The Chinese science fiction trilogy “The Three-Body Problem” has won awards around the world and been heralded by fans including Barack Obama and sci-fi giant George R. R. Martin.
Now, the creators of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” are bringing the series to Netflix in an English-language adaptation.
The Netflix version will cover all three books written by Liu Cixin, formally named the “Remembrance of Earth’s Past,” though commonly known by readers and fans as the “Three-Body Problem” series, which tell the story of an alternative Chinese history involving alien invasions, technological battles and power struggles. The project will be a collaboration between United States and Chinese production teams.
“The first time I read The Three-Body Problem trilogy (Remembrance of Earth’s Past), it changed what science fiction meant to me forever,” said Peter Friedlander, vice president of Netflix’s original series drama team, in a statement on Tuesday. “This story felt singular, special — and eminently relatable.”
It’s a star-studded project; the adaptation will be written and executive-produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss of “Game of Thrones” fame, and Alexander Woo, who wrote for HBO’s “True Blood.” Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman, the duo behind “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Knives Out,” have also signed on as executive producers.
“Liu Cixin’s trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we’ve read, taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe,” said Benioff and Weiss in a joint statement. “We look forward to spending the next years of our lives bringing this to life for audiences around the world.”
The production will be the first from Benioff and Weiss for Netflix since the showrunners signed a deal with the streaming giant last year, reportedly worth $200 million.
Liu Cixin and Ken Liu, who translated the books into English in 2014, will both work as consulting producers on the series to “help ensure that the spirit of the books remains intact,” said Friedlander in the statement.
The list of executive producers also includes representatives from the Yoozoo Group and The Three-Body Universe, the Chinese groups that hold the rights to the franchise.
“I have the greatest respect for and faith in the creative team adapting The Three-Body Problem for television audiences,” said Liu Cixin in the Netflix statement. “I set out to tell a story that transcends time and the confines of nations, cultures and races; one that compels us to consider the fate of humankind as a whole.”
The adaptation marked a “great honor as an author,” he added.
The first work in the trilogy, “The Three-Body Problem,” was serialized in 2006 then published as a book in 2008. The next two books, “The Dark Forest” and “Death’s End,” were published in 2008 and 2010 respectively.
The series received critical acclaim in China, with fans praising its blend of meticulous mathematics and physics, science fiction theory, and philosophical elements against the bloody backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution.
It won the Galaxy Award, China’s most prestigious science fiction prize, in 2006. After Ken Liu’s English version was published, he and Liu Cixin jointly won the international Hugo Award for Best Novel, marking the first time an Asian novel had ever won the prize.
The translation helped propel the series to global fame; Martin, who wrote the novels that were adapted into HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” praised it as “a breakthrough book” and “a worthy nominee” of the Hugo Award.
And former US President Obama told the New York Times in 2017 that the series was “just wildly imaginative, really interesting.”
“The scope of it was immense,” he said. “So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty — not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade.”
There have been previous attempts to adapt the books for the big screen; a Chinese 3-D film began production in 2015, but has since been postponed. And last summer, there were reports of the novels being adapted into an animated television series.