Stories of Your Life and Others

Hardcover, 333 pages

English language

Published Aug. 12, 2002 by Tor.

ISBN:
978-0-7653-0418-6
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4 stars (192 reviews)

Ted Chiang's first published story, "Tower of Babylon," won the Nebula Award in 1990. Subsequent stories have won the Asimov's SF Magazine reader poll, a second Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Sidewise Award for alternate history.

He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992. Story for story, he is the most honored young writer in modern SF.

Now, collected here for the first time are all seven of this extraordinary writer's stories so far--plus an eighth story written especially for this volume.

What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven--and broke through to Heaven's other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? …

17 editions

Magical and often beautiful, but never fanciful

No rating

"Hell Is the Absence of God" has stuck with me since I first read it in a collection almost 20 years ago, and Arrival was an instant favourite film when it came out, but somehow it has taken me until the past few years to read more of Chiang's work. I'm glad that I did. Exhalation was brilliant, but I think this collection tops it—the combination of religious/mythical thinking and the methodical, engineering mindset gives each story a unique blend of rigor and depth. He makes worlds where impossible things happen but feel entirely believable, and tells stories that are laden with metaphor and commentary that don't feel didactic. They're magical and often beautiful, but never fanciful—which I mean as high praise.

Review of 'Stories of Your Life and Others' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

As I have grown older, more stressed, more worried, more cynical, and have read more books; I suppose I have gotten a bit blasé. It is not often that I read a book that stirs me so much that it feels like it sits in my body for days after, and poses questions and tells stories that somehow feel urgent to think about and mull over in my head. I am glad to report that this book showed me it is still possible.

Not all the stories are fantastic. But Chiang has that rare quality to his writing where even the stories that are not good are still good. I didn't care much for "Understand", "Division by Zero" or "Liking What You See". They are great ideas, and Chiang does a formidable job of diving into his own ideas and examining them from all angles. But sometimes, as in these …

Review of 'Stories of Your Life and Others' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

I'm thrilled to have finally gotten around to the story that one of my favorite movies was based on. Story of Your Life made me appreciate the movie Arrival even more, while enjoying additional story elements from the source material here. I'm not very familiar with the world of sci-fi, but ever since Black Mirror went on hiatus I've had an unmet hankering for some good dystopian speculation that leaves you with that warm and fuzzy existential dread.

Chiang is my first exposure to short sci-fi. His stories are heavy on the math and science, and are so well done that I sometimes had trouble discerning where the fiction elements began. The other side of the coin here is that the stories often do focus more on the ideas than the characters or plot. But the ideas were so interesting that I didn't care.

Chiang's ability to write for so …

Review of 'Stories of Your Life and Others' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

Chiang is really good at short stories. I appreciated how despite them being short stories they still felt substantial, something Exhalation (which I read first) didn't feel as consistent about. These also read a lot like Black Mirror episodes, and feel ripe for adaptations. I know Story of your Life was adapted into Arrival, but it feels like most of the stories here have similar potential.

Review of 'Stories of Your Life and Others' on 'Storygraph'

4 stars

These stories play with math, language, and science, situating their more technical aspects within various strange and internally consistent rule-sets which stretch into the fantastic while wearing the clothes of the scientific, all to tell deeply moving stories about people in strange worlds which are almost like our own. From a literal interpretation of the Tower of Babel wherein they reach to the heavens, to a mathematical formalism so destabilizing that it drives the theorist to despair, to a contemplation on beauty and appearance which refuses to ever quite take a side on its central question. One of the strengths of this collection is the worldbuilding, the way the details vary from story to story but they're all extremely immersive, exploring the strange corners of each premise while still feeling complete and focused. My favorites were "Tower of Babylon" and "Understand", closely followed by "Story of Your Life" (upon which …

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