Chinese writer Liu Cixin’s “The Three-body Problem” has won the Best Novel Hugo Award. Liu becomes the first Asian to win one of the most prestigious awards for science fiction and fantasy writing.

Results of the 73th Hugo Awards were announced in Spokane, Washington State in the US on Saturday. Ken Liu, who translated the Chinese novel into English, attended the ceremony and read a statement on the author’s behalf.

Set in the background of China’s Cultural Revolution in 1966-1976, “The Three-body Problem” begins with a breakthrough in the Chinese army’s secret space programme to look for aliens, which leads to the invasion of the earth by the “three-body civilization.”

Left: The cover of "The Three-body Problem". Right: The Hugo Awards logo.
Left: The cover of “The Three-body Problem”. Right: The Hugo Awards logo.

The novel is the first part of a trilogy that ends with the extinction of mankind. The English version of “The Three-body Problem” was published in the US last year while the Chinese version was serialised  in 2006.

The nomination process of this year’s Hugo Awards was disrupted by a campaign called “the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies”, which accused the organiser, the World Science Fiction Society, of unfairly favouring women as well as sexual and ethnic minorities. The campaign organised a voting bloc to support white male candidates, leading to some authors quitting the competition in protest. In the end, voters chose “no winner” for five categories.

three body problem
Zhang Jingchu will play leading character Ye Wenjie. Photo:

A film based on “The Three-body Problem”, starring Chinese actors Feng Shaofeng and Zhang Jingchu, will hit the big screen next year.

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Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.