Chinese media, including official outlets, have widely identified the suspect as Xu Yao, an executive at Mr. Lin’s gaming company, Youzu Interactive, which goes by Yoozoo in English. Those reports could not be independently confirmed, and the company did not respond to a request for comment.
It was not clear how or whether Mr. Lin’s death would affect Netflix’s plans for “The Three-Body Problem.” Netflix did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
In September, the American streaming service said it would turn the trilogy into an original series developed by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the executive producers of “Game of Thrones,” with a creative team that included Liu Cixin, the author of the books. Mr. Lin was listed as an executive producer.
“The Three-Body Problem” is the first book in what Mr. Liu called the “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” trilogy. The book, set in present-day China, tells the story of an engineer called upon by the Beijing authorities to look into a spate of suicides by scientists. He discovers an extraterrestrial plot with roots in the Cultural Revolution, the decade of paranoia that led to the persecution and torture of perceived enemies of the Communist Party, which lasted until Mao Zedong’s death in 1976.
The English version of “The Three-Body Problem,” translated by Ken Liu, became a sensation when it was released in 2014. It won the Hugo Award, a major science fiction accolade, for best novel. Mark Zuckerberg added it to his reading list. Mr. Obama, in an interview with The New York Times, called it “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.”
Mr. Lin made it his life’s work to make the novel known to an even broader audience, according to an online memorial written by Chen Long, a professor who taught Mr. Lin at Hupan University, a business school. Beginning in 2014, Professor Chen said, Mr. Lin started buying up copyrights and licenses connected to the books.
By 2019, Professor Chen estimated, Mr. Lin had spent about $150 million. His mission was to make the trilogy’s world into an internationally recognized franchise, with movies, television shows, video games, anime and more, Mr. Chen wrote.