Stories of Your Life and Others

by Ted Chiang

Rating: ★★★★

A nice collection of some good science fiction shorts. If that sounds a little muted, I fear it's because my reaction to Chiang is moderated by a great deal of hype around his work. To be clear, they are each well-crafted, with a well-developed and interesting idea nestled in some controlled writing.

Tower of Babylon is a strong introduction, a relatively simple concept elaborated with an evocation of human endeavour.

Understand I have read somewhere before. It remains an excellent and gripping demonstration of the possibilities of IQ enhancement.

Division By Zero I feel like I might've missed something here with the segment headings. The a/b segments seem only to relate to which character holds focus, with the conclusion being their interaction, but it seems like there should be something metafictional from the equation.

Stories of Your Life was a muddled reading for me, having previously seen the film adaptation and read some debate about the interpretation. I was a bit too caught up in comparing it to appreciate it aesthetically. I do still appreciate its rendition of linguistics.

Seventy-Two Letters was good fun, deriving a reproductive system from kabbalistic mechanisms. Reminded me of UNSONG more than a little.

The Evolution of Human Science I thought a little unsteady, it seems implausible that the call to arms would be that late to come. Does show Chiang controlling his style.

Hell is the Abscence of God Another one that reminds me of UNSONG. A fun setting to play around with in your head, but I felt the characters were somewhat too heavily described, I had no real investment in them.

Liking What You See Perhaps the most thought-provoking, touching on a number of near-at-hand political and societal issues from a deliberately broad selection of perspectives (though with Ted leaning on the scale a little).