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Stories of Your Life and Others (2002)

by Ted Chiang

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,0162332,145 (4.21)173
Fiction. Literature. Science Fiction. Short Stories. This new edition of Ted Chiang's masterful first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, includes his first eight published stories. Combining the precision and scientific curiosity of Kim Stanley Robinson with Lorrie Moore's cool, clear love of language and narrative intricacy, this award-winning collection offers listeners the dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar. Stories of Your Life and Others presents characters who must confront sudden change-the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens-while striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. In the amazing and much-lauded title story (the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival), a grieving mother copes with divorce and the death of her daughter by drawing on her knowledge of alien languages and non-linear memory recollection. A clever pastiche of news reports and interviews chronicles a college's initiative to "turn off" the human ability to recognize beauty in "Liking What You See: A Documentary." With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty and constant change, and also by beauty and wonder.… (more)
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» See also 173 mentions

English (221)  French (4)  Hungarian (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (231)
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
"Stories of Your Life" by Ted Chiang is a captivating collection of speculative fiction that serves as a thought-provocation exercise on concepts such as human nature, consciousness, language, and the nature of reality itself. In the namesake short, "Story of Your Life," which was adapted into the film "Arrival," Chiang explores how language shapes our perception of reality and the implications of understanding a nonlinear perception of time. It's a deeply moving narrative that delves into the emotional complexities of human connection and the acceptance of the inevitable. In another story, “Division by Zero,” Chiang skillfully blends mathematics with existential questions, challenging readers to reconsider their understanding of reality and self. I could go on and on, but all would circle the fact that each story is a gem. “Stories of Your Life” is a remarkable collection. ( )
  Andrew.Lafleche | Feb 17, 2024 |
The main attraction for me was to read "Story of Your Life", upon which the movie "Arrival" was based. I was also drawn by the hope of reading something reminiscent of Jorge Borges, and this is probably my favourite short story collection since reading his "Ficciones". These stories have an emotional journey component, but each one is also a thought experiment: the 'what if' exploration of an idea and what its implications might be. Chiang is also excellent at selecting the right narrative approach in each instance to make the story work.

Tower of Babylon - This tower has entranced my imagination since I was a child, so it was a pleasure to read a story that brings the concept to life.

Understand - Chiang musters his own version of Dr. Manhattan, convincingly describing his path from human to superhuman in first-person. That is no mean trick.

Division by Zero - The arithimetic of falling out of love; a metaphor for academicians. But a real mathematician would seek an operation to hold suspect rather than the entire system.

Story of Your Life - The story has less politics and lower stakes than its related movie, more focused on the notion at its centre.

Seventy-Two Letters - A steampunk world in which the manufacture of golems has become a science. Excellent structure but challenging to follow at times.

The Evolution of Human Science - This envisioned future of 'metahumans' could more easily be brought about by AI.

Hell is the Absence of God - The Book of Job as it should have ended.

Liking What You See: A Documentary - It's funny that with all the precautions society takes to protect ourselves against mishap, how willing we are to just take our lumps in the romantic sphere. Suppose an effort were made to change that? ( )
  Cecrow | Jan 26, 2024 |
These short stories and novellas are dense and cerebral. The central concepts are fascinating and the characters often have wildly different perspectives without feeling like they're made of straw.

My favorites:
"Hell is the Absence of God"
"Tower of Babylon"
"Liking What You See: A Documentary" ( )
  AdioRadley | Jan 21, 2024 |
Finished the full anthology today and I have to say that I absolutely loved it and I will be seeking out more Ted Chiang.

There are some of the best short stories I've had the pleasure of reading in here and all are wonderful thought experiments well crafted into stories.

I am going to talk more about this anthology and, particularly Division by Zero, more another time, but for now I cannot recommend this anthology more strongly, and would say it's essential reading for sci-fi fans.

***

Writing this as a review of Story of Your Life, as it seems to be one of the only stories from this anthology without a separate entry.

I should first say that Arrival is one of my favourite films and I had already watched it a bunch of times before I realised it was based on a short story and went to search it out. I have actually been holding off for a while as I was worried about having too much expectation and being disappointed.

I was not disappointed.

Strange aliens with an odd language come to Earth and a linguist works to communicate with them and their mind-bending language that gives her a unique perspective on causality and she begins to experience multiple times at once explored throughout the main narrative.

In same way Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation was an impossible book to adapt, Story of Your Lifeis equally resistant to make into a movie. Thankfully, as Alex Garland did, Denis Villeneuve and adapted Eric Heisserer made a version of this story keeping it's core elements, adding and subtracting other aspects to make it work on screen. I possibly just prefer Annihilation (novel) over Story of Your Life, but as much as I love Annihilation (movie), Arrival is just magnificent. Equally, I enjoy the story as much, if not slightly less than the movie, but that is an infinitesimal amount.

I have still only been exposed to this anthology of Chiang's work and it has been an absolute rollercoaster from great to phenomenal and such wildly different approaches, tones, and styles of writing. After reading Tower of Babylon, Understand, and Division by Zero, I think in a controlled test I would not necessarily have thought this was Chiang. That's not a compliment or shade, it's just so different.

Actually, it is a compliment. There is something that so far is unique in the way Chiang marries the thought experiment with the narrative and unique narrative structure that feels so much more organic with the whole thing feeling like a story that happens to be about what it's about, opposed to feeling like a story based on a premise.

The whole thing is frbakof brilliant, I you like sci-fi and/ or have a heart read this story and watch Arrival. ( )
  RatGrrrl | Dec 20, 2023 |
Some excellent stories. "Understand" was riveting, the build up and philosophical considerations such fun to read. The eponymous story is what Arrival was based on, the story being infinitely more complex—how can we communicate? With each other? Our children? The other? The alien? Really wonderful. Hell is the Absence of God was a fascinating more radical, or maybe just more committed, Book of Job. Excellent writer.
  BookyMaven | Dec 6, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 221 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chiang, Tedprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Craden, AbbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manchess, GregoryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLaren, ToddNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wong, JoanDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Brian Chiang and Jenna Felice
In memory of
Brian Chiang
and
Jenna Felice.
First words
Were the tower to be laid down across the plain of Shinar, it would be two days' journey to walk from one end to the other.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The movie Arrival is based on the novella Story of your Life, not this anthology.
This collection contains eight (8) stories. Please do not combine with a similar collection that has a different set of stories.
Publisher's editors
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Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Literature. Science Fiction. Short Stories. This new edition of Ted Chiang's masterful first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, includes his first eight published stories. Combining the precision and scientific curiosity of Kim Stanley Robinson with Lorrie Moore's cool, clear love of language and narrative intricacy, this award-winning collection offers listeners the dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar. Stories of Your Life and Others presents characters who must confront sudden change-the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens-while striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. In the amazing and much-lauded title story (the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival), a grieving mother copes with divorce and the death of her daughter by drawing on her knowledge of alien languages and non-linear memory recollection. A clever pastiche of news reports and interviews chronicles a college's initiative to "turn off" the human ability to recognize beauty in "Liking What You See: A Documentary." With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty and constant change, and also by beauty and wonder.

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Book description
Collects these stories
"Tower of Babylon"
"Understand"
"Division by Zero"
"Story of Your Life"
"Seventy-Two Letters"
"The Evolution of Human Science"
"Hell Is the Absence of God"
"Liking What You See: A Documentary"
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