'Three-Body Problem' Might Be Amazon's Next Super-Expensive Sci-Fi Series

Tor Books

Amazon recently dropped a cool $250 million for the rights to a Lord of the Rings prequel series, but now there are reports that the company is going to spend up to $1 billion — yes, billion — for the rights to an acclaimed Chinese sci-fi series. Amazon is reportedly in talks to obtain the rights to The Three-Body Problem, the first foreign-language book ever to win a prestigious Hugo award.

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that international investors say Amazon is eyeing The Three-Body Problem and subsequent two books in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy for a blockbuster show. The Three-Body Problem, written by Liu Cixin, was massively successful in China, and former President Barack Obama famously praised the English translation last year. The story, which is complicated to summarize, feels somewhat similar to Arrival, only with physics and math instead of language at its core.

The story, in addition to being a weighty and intelligent sci-fi romp, is also deeply steeped in Chinese culture and history. The first book opens when an astrophysics who has lost faith in humanity due to what she endured during China’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution, invites aliens to destroy the planet. Such a blockbuster series with a largely non-white cast by necessity would be something unique on American TV, Netflix’s oft-forgotten Marco Polo be damned. io9 reports that Chinese fans on Weibo and other social media sites seem pretty excited about the prospect of Amazon’s big-budget adaptation.

However, there’s potentially a problem. The Chinese studio YooZoo Pictures has been trying to make a movie series out of The Three-Body Problem for years, though the project appears to be stuck in development hell. In statements provided to Chinese outlets, YooZoo claimed it still was the sole owner of the rights to the story, though it’s possible there are additional deals being made between studios that haven’t been made public yet.

Should Amazon end up making a Three-Body Problem series, one that would presumably run for three seasons, it would be a fitting addition to their literary genre fare, alongside the upcoming Lord of the Rings series and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. Perhaps Jeff Bezos is a big ol’ geek.

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