Share for friends:

Stories Of Your Life And Others (2010)

Stories of Your Life and Others (2010)

Book Info

4.35 of 5 Votes: 3
Your rating
0330426648 (ISBN13: 9780330426640)
small beer press

About book Stories Of Your Life And Others (2010)

If you want to keep up with the Joneses in the scifi reading community you will have to read this short story collection. Considering he has published less than 50 stories and not a single novel Ted Chiang is one of today's best known sf authors among sf readers, this does not make him a household name but he is a force to be reckoned with. It is also remarkable how many major sf awards he has won given the relatively small number of stories he has published. In other words he is terrific without being prolific.Stories of Your Life and Others is the only collection Mr Chiang has published at the time of writing, he also has a few other stories published which are not included in this volume. Having read this collection it is easy to see why he is so revered among the sf readership. All these stories are based on ideas which range from damn clever to ingenious, they are all beatifully written and most of them feature well developed characters. I will just briefly comment on each one:"Tower of Babylon" (Nebula Award winner)The collection starts with a wonderful fantasy story that reads like scifi thanks to the logic employed. Imagine climbing the Biblical Tower of Babel to the very zenith, way above the clouds, all the way to where you would imagine heaven to be. Well, you don't have to imagine it, Mr. Chiang has done it for you with some amazingly visual description and immersive story telling."Understand"A sort of Flowers for Algernon crossed with the Cronenberg movie "Scanners" with a literally mind blowing climax. It is very intelligently written and fast paced. I do wonder if Ted Chiang himself is a recipient of "Hormone K" therapy, his intellect does seem to be superhuman. A riveting novella-length tale."Division by Zero"Obsession with maths can drive you mad. Not really my favorite story here, but like all the others it is clever and well written, short too!"Story of Your Life" (Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award winner)One thing I hate about aliens on scifi TV is how goofy and anthropomorphic they tend to be. If they didn't have have green skin or furry faces you would not know they are aliens. They are often just money grubbing, lusty, greedy, noble, heroic or vain as the human characters, and their language tend to be just as translatable into English as Chinese or Italian. The aliens in this story are very alien, they are beyond comprehension and if you want to speak their language you have to alter your entire way of looking at the world. This story is about more than just "first contact" however, it is also about the perception of time, fate and predestination. I have said too much already, you really have to wrap your head around this one.(This story is being adapted into a movie starring Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams.)"Seventy-Two Letters" (Sidewise Award winner)Another weird story set in a world where golems can be animated when embedded with names. This story is more about ideas than plot and moves at a stately pace. Again not a personal favorite but it is still interesting and not very long."The Evolution of Human Science"More like an essay or journal article written in a fictional world than a (very) short story. It is basically about posthumanism and well worth reading and pondering afterward."Hell Is the Absence of God"Another gobsmacking story, the fourth one in this short volume! A mind blowing fantasy set in a world where angel visitations and miracles are well known and documented facts. Religion, faith, good and evil are portrayed here in an intelligent, compassionate and logical manner. The most emotionally charged story in this collection. This one will stay with you for the rest of your days."Liking What You See: A Documentary"Not really a documentary, but a story about how different our perception may be if we can filter out facial beauty and how "lookism" is ingrained in our lives. Written from multiple viewpoint and partly in journal style for that "macro" effect. Another excellent thought experiment. This collection of stories is generally very readable, erudite, fascinating and memorable. A book like this is the reason most of us read sf/f books. What we have here is a real "sensawunda" merchant, one of the all-time greats.After finishing this collection I immediately downloaded and read Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects which the author and publisher have kindly made available to be read online. It is also amazing and a must-read.

What's there to say about Chiang that all the others don't say? He is the closest thing to a modern Jorge Luis Borges in melding high concepts with literature to create something better than either; in some respects, I'd rank his best short stories as better than Gene Wolfe's. His writing is deceptively excellent: I would call him a writer's writer, because the flat evenness of his prose may strike a reader as boring unless they have tried to write as clearly themselves and failed abysmally, at which point they begin to appreciate Chiang's infallible choice of words and lucid prose which sinks into the mind without friction.Stories of Your Life and Others is much superior to his novella Life Cycle of Software Objects, and contains pretty much all of his greatest short stories which I have read, except for his excellent "Exhalation". I read most of them online, so when I had the chance to read a hardcopy of the full collection, I seized it.1. "The Tower of Babylon"; amusing, and in describing the lives of the people living on the tower, moving in some respects. The final ending feels like an appropriate conclusion. If one had to criticize it, it would be that the Tower itself is completely unrealistic even in the Biblical cosmology of the story: as I said, the best Chiang stories unite literature and good ideas. I would rank this #5 of the 8 stories.2. "Division by Zero"; not terribly impressive - over-wrought, and I feel I have read this story before and better. #7.3. "Understand"; a classic in the niche genre of superintelligence, and IMO better than Vinge's "Bookworm, Run!" and at least as good as Flowers for Algernon. Chiang, like every other author, confronts the limits of his writing ability in trying to write convincingly of a superintelligence who is by definition vastly smarter than he is (the same challenge laid down by Campbell to Vinge: "you can't write this story, and neither can anyone else"), and so the start of the story is much stronger than the later passages. But the whole is still memorable. #4.4. "Story of Your Life"; I had actually read this one before, and dismissed it as sentimental tripe with some weak physics or linguistic layering that I didn't really understand. Fortunately, just a few weeks ago I happened to read some material on the Lagrangian interpretations of physics and combined with knowing in advance the ending, I was able to appreciate the story much better this time. I would rank this #3 of the 8 stories. #3.5. "The Evolution of Human Science"; short, dubious. Not Chiang's best work, on either dimension. #8.6. "Seventy-Two Letters"; simply fantastic. The setting is wonderful, the problem great, the ideas even better, and the solution & meaning better still. #2.7. "Hell Is the Absence of God"; as an atheist who keeps coming back to the Book of Job, this story came as a gut punch. The writing is Chiang at his most Chiang-y, the world interesting and provocative, and the ending simply unspeakable. But don't take my word for it, 'decide for yourself', as the fallen angels say. #1.8. "Liking What You See: A Documentary"; interesting ideas, but something about the dialogues and characters seem off. It just jars me. #6.

Do You like book Stories Of Your Life And Others (2010)?

I now officially have to STFU about how I don't like short stories. Because that? That was awesome.Collection of skiffyish pieces from an author whose only serious flaw from where I'm sitting is that he doesn't write enough dammit. If there's a thread binding the set together, it's the way Chiang comes at you every time and asks, "okay, but what would the world be like if we changed this one little rule? Nothing major, you understand -- just cosmology or cause-and-effect or the existence of mathematics. You'll hardly notice. Except when you do."Standouts for me were, well, all of them, actually, to some degree. But to cherry-pick: "Division by Zero" - risky as all hell, and more than paid off. Math and empathy and sympathy, yeah. "Story of Your Life" - I think I got my brain right way up again, but I'm not sure. "Hell Is the Absence of God" - perfect style, all about suffering. Hell is just there sometimes, but angels are bigger than natural disasters.They're pretty much all like that, big risks that he just lands over and over again. A few wobbles, like I care right now. File under: will read everything the man ever writes.

Llegué a la ciencia ficción y a la fantasía porque me encantaban las naves espaciales, las pistolas de rayos y las aventuras con muchas batallas.Pero uno se hace grande, viejo, aburrido y adicto a que los buenos escritores de ciencia ficción y fantasía cojan una idea y la estiren hasta ver a donde llega, la estrujen, la rompan y le den la vuelta como una media y de esta manera te obliguen a pensar y a usar esas neuronas para que no se atrofien.Y Ted Chiang hace eso.Una droga que te impide ver la belleza o la fealdad de las personas, un mundo donde Dios existe y exige amor a través de las visitas de sus angeles, unos picapedreros contratados por los constructores de la torre de Babel para romper la cúpula de los cielos y poder alcanzarlo, la revolución industrial impulsada por la extraña ciencia que permite crear golems como máquinas de trabajo o la lucha mental entre dos hombres tan inteligentes que casi son dioses.Si no fuese por algún final algo flojo y un lenguaje que se puede hacer pesado por momentos le daría un 5, 4 porque no puedo 4,5.Lo que verdaderamente duele es que creo que Chiang no ha escrito otra cosa además de estos de estos cuentos ¿Y si a ese señor le pasa algo o decide no volver a escribir?¿Qué será de nosotros?
—Juan Raffo

Ted Chiang is exactly the kind of SF author I love: much like my other favorites, Robert Charles Wilson and James Patrick Kelley, Chiang uses his short fiction to blend profound human stories with hard SF concepts. The result, as demonstrated by this story anthology, are thought-provoking, moving stories.A lot of reviewers of 'Stories of your Life' have implied that Chiang's style is a radical departure from the typical SF short story. I disagree. They're great examples of what the SF short story medium can produce, but as a fervent SF short story reader, I can tell you that his work is not in contradiction to what's being produced out there today. Perhaps this reaction happens from people who imagine SF shorts are cerebral, geeky affairs? If so, I'm glad Chiang's collection is bringing them to the genre and proving their preconceptions wrong.Overall, I found all of the short stories included in this anthology to be good, and worth a read. Well; "The Evolution of Human Science" left me cold, but it's mercifully short. Not all of them were what I'd call spectacular, but enough are to warrant praise for the overall collection.The standout star is, in my opinion, "Liking What You See: A Documentary". This story about a technology that lets you "switch off" your perception of beauty has it all: thought-provoking scientific concept, a deep human impact, an interesting format, and an interesting conflict. It's one of those SF gems that doesn't tell you what to think, only asks questions which you'll have to ponder for yourself."Hell is the Absence of God" takes angels and miracles to a Kafkaesque level, and asks interesting questions about the nature of faith. "Tower of Babylon", "Division by Zero", "Story of Your Life" and "Hell is the Absence of God" were likewise excellent reads that created interesting visions of the world, asked thought-provoking questions, and didn't overstay their welcome. "Understand", which suffers greatly in comparison to Flowers for Algernon, and "Seventy-Two Letters", which seems self-absorbed in its convoluted world-building, were both good tries but near-misses for me.Overall, 'Stories of Your Life' is a fantastic story collection, and I'm glad it's getting people interested who otherwise wouldn't be caught reading short SF stories. If you liked this collection, I cannot recommend enough Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects, and Wilson's collection, The Perseids and Other Stories.
—Daniel Roy

download or read online

Read Online

Write Review

(Review will shown on site after approval)

Other books by author Ted Chiang

Other books in category Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction