Stories of Your Life and Others

Stories of Your Life and Others

by Ted Chiang


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101972120
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/14/2016
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 35,647
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Ted Chiang was born in Port Jefferson, New York, and holds a degree in computer science. In 1989 he attended the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Workshop. His fiction has won four Hugo, four Nebula, and four Locus awards, and he is the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Stories of Your Life and Others has been translated into ten languages. He lives near Seattle, Washington.

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Excerpted from "Stories of Your Life and Others"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Ted Chiang.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents

Tower of Babylon
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

Story Notes 275
Acknowledgments 283

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Stories of Your Life and Others 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heres a set of stories that explore concepts as far apart as the end of mathamatics to angelic visitation. Each story is a real page turner and Chiang comes up with deep implications of the ideas he presents. SF fans used to talk about stories that illicit that 'sense of wonder'. If you like that sort of science fiction, you'll wonder why you didn't pick up this anthology sooner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr Chiang writes with such clarity of thought and depth of imagination, it's often difficult to pull oneself away. Each story is told in a unique style, and none fits a specific genre. I loved them all.
BrandenB More than 1 year ago
After reading Ted Chiang, I will be tracking down all of his other works to read as soon as I can. Chiang not only shares stories of a great variety of topics, but his ability to capture vastly different, often even conflicting, perspectives is amazing. His subjects of interest cover the spectrum of sci-fi, and even venture a bit outside its realm, but do not disappoint at all. I wholly recommend Stories of Your Life and Others to anyone who appreciates captivating tales of humanity, that call attention to important issues, and tell great stories along the way.
DarrenVA More than 1 year ago
If you like stories with a good twist, and yet in the realm of fantasy/sci fi, this is a great collection. Two standouts are "Understand", and "Hell is the absence of God". As a Christian, I must say the latter story really blew my mind. Some may consider it blasphemous in a fashion, but in some ways it correlates with certain beliefs within Christianity. It will get you thinking one way or the other.
gonzobrarian on LibraryThing 10 months ago
It¿s doubtful I've ever had a more daunting though rewarding belly-flop into science fiction than after reading Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Curiously, for someone who hasn¿t written a whole lot, readers most likely won't find a more highly praised and deserving work of short stories. Apparently he can literally write no wrong. Perhaps it¿s because Chiang restores a sense of balance in what we have conceived as science-fiction. Many, perhaps most writers in the genre focus solely on the fiction, and relegate the science to some fantastical, nebulous and/or contrived aspect of the story that is ultimately incomprehensible but nevertheless important somehow; we as readers and viewers simply have to take the scifi aspect on faith, which is irony stabbing us in the eye when closely pondered. It¿s the current mentality you¿ll see on TV, whereby viewers are force-fed tried and boring apocalypse movies, criminally underwritten Star Wars remakes and even more inane mecha-squirrel vs. dino-possum nonsense that really should be categorized under horror and general stupidity, or worse, willful lack of imagination rather than ¿science-fiction¿. That being said, the stories written by Chiang are slow, complex and require effort. They take time to comprehend, but if the reader follows closely enough, his stories build a momentum of brilliance. Admittedly, even I was doubtful as the stories are literally surrounded, even choking on the multitude of blurbs, from cover to cover. Chiang uses several familiar settings like alien visitations, mad scientists, rogue collectives, and even cybernetic experimentation, but with a tender detachment and unexpected conclusions. Despite the effort required, the reward is certainly worth the effect of emerging a more enlightened reader than a merely entertained one. My favorite entries include Understand, Story of Your Life, Seventy-Two Letters, and Liking What You See. It¿s literature that¿s more than just science, more than just fiction.
AlexDraven on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Having read a number of Ted Chiang's short stories and pretty much loved every one of them, this collection was a must-buy. I've read a couple of the stories contained within already, but they more than stand up to re-reading. Chiang has a true talent for seeing not just the potential future paths of various technologies and the underlying science, but extrapolating the human and social impacts, in a way that feels very original and fresh and - human. He experiment with structure and style to match the ideas of each story, and the result is an addictive anthology, and a collection of stories that will stay with me. The notes at the end about the inspiration behind each story was a lovely bonus too - I love me some process!
g33kgrrl on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I've enjoyed other Ted Chiang stories I've read, so I was excited to have a chance to read this collection. As with any collection I liked some stories better than others, and since the stories in this collection ranged from such a large time period I felt it was intriguing to see the evolution in his writing. If you don't feel like reading reviews of each story, please sum up this review as: excellent, would read again, highly recommended."Tower of Babylon" was a great counterfactual about what happens during and after the building of the Tower. I can't say what made it interesting, as that would ruin the whole end of the piece, but it was well-thought out.As a person who enjoys math, "Division By Zero" was quite enjoyable - but it goes well beyond the math and shows different sides of how things make us who we are, and how that can change."Understand" and its themes seemed very familiar to me, and I was kind of surprised that he would be writing such already-trod material, until I looked at the original publication date and saw that it was published in 1991 - well before this sort of thing had become old hat. "Story of Your Life" was brilliant. It was emotionally compelling, scientifically interesting, and still understated - a wonderful piece of writing. I know I'll go back and read it again someday. I loved it."The Evolution of Human Science" was a small and interesting piece, but since there was no emotional component it didn't hook me the way other stories did. I'd already read "Seventy-two Letters" and that was the story that made me want to seek out more of his works, and it held up quite well on a second read."Hell is the Absence of God" was well thought-out, an interesting world, well told, but still just a sad story. I don't always do well with sad stories. If there were more stories set in the same world, I would read them in a heartbeat, though. Even if they were sad too."Liking What You See: A Documentary" was quite possibly a perfect piece of writing! Seriously. It has an interesting premise, is told in a novel way, still manages to contain a human story as well as the big-picture, and most amazingly - Chiang accurately expresses all sides that I could think of of the "issue" at hand, with quite accurate nuance and depth. Contradictions and all, because we're all humans. It was just a really enjoyable piece of fiction to read, and I was really impressed.
silentq on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I'd read one story in this volume (Seventy Two Letters, about golems in Victorian London) when I was reading a steampunk collection, but the others were all new to me. Tower of Babylon was an interesting musing on what could have happened if the tower was finished. Understand was a child of "Flowers for Algernon", showing what would happen in the present day if someone reached ultra genius levels of intelligence - I really liked how the writing in the story progressed. Story of Your Life linked time and communication and love in a non linear way. Hell is the Absence of God played with the idea of angels visiting the earth and curing and cursing people at each visit and how the victims coped. Liking What You See: A Documentary did a good job at showing different sides of the issue of "lookism".There was a bit too much religion in the text and subtext for me, but the pure science parts were interesting.
figre on LibraryThing 10 months ago
How can one author have so little output, yet have such an impact. This book contains all the short stories Ted Chiang published between 1990 and 2001. That is only eight stories (one of which written for this collection.) Yet, they have garnered three nebula awards, a Theodore Sturgeon Memorial award (and three nominations), a Locus award (and six nominations ¿ oh yeah, this collection also won one), a Hugo award (and five nominations) a World Fantasy Award nomination, and one James Triptree, Jr. award. (And I¿m not going to say I¿ve found them all.) That is a 30-year career for many authors.So, this becomes the worst kind of review ¿ one which talks about what the stories have accomplished, rather than what the stories really are. But this is too long a list to be ignored. Anyone can win one award, and there can be a fluke where even the grandest hack wins two. But seven (and eleven nominations)???Within the pages of this book is a collection of unbelievable stories. Okay, some aren¿t as strong as others. But that is like saying Yosemite just isn¿t up to the standards of the Grand Canyon. These are stories that take strange concepts, wrap them in an engrossing story, and suck you in before you even know it has happened to you. I will just speak to two of the stories (award winners ¿ imagine that.) Before I recognized the name of the author (in other words, not even recognizing they were by the same person) the stories ¿Tower of Babylon¿ and ¿Hell is the Absence of God¿ were emblazoned in my memory. Both take Biblical concepts (one, the story of the Tower of Babel and the other¿well, the premise for hell and for angels) and accept them as literal truths. These make good premises, but in Chiang¿s hands he has delved deeply into what these can really mean. I have read both stories numerous times. But, reading them this one more time, I still found new depth and meaning to the stories.Quite simply, read this collection and be amazed.
thelorelei on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Each of the eight stories included in the collection is astounding in its completeness and uniqueness. Chiang has a consistent style of prose but beyond that he leaps from idea to idea nimbly and each story makes its own universe and point of view. What impresses me most about Chiang's work here is the pairing of hard science with thoughtful characterization of his protagonists. These are incredibly delicate, personal stories of love, loss, desire, and hope. Most of all, I am surprised at how accessibly he writes about complicated scientific principles that would normally be miles above the head of a non-scientist.
shawnr on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Ted Chiang¿s Stories of Your Life and Others is an incredible collection of short stories, containing some of the best examples of the form and some of the most engaging contemporary fiction. Chiang is generally known as a slipstream writer, which is a relatively new genre classification which is supposed to indicate the genreless-ness of the work. I love many things that are called ¿slipstream¿ but I resist the urge to genre-fy those works. Regardless of how you label them, Chiang¿s stories are imaginative and thoughtful. He tells stories of the Tower of Babel, of steampunk-influenced Kabbalistic genetic research, of contemporary mathematics and of both aliens and angels. Chiang has an amazing ability to bring fantastic events down to earth and represent them to you as earnestly as good literary fiction is supposed to. The juxtaposition is jarring in just the right way to make Chiang¿s stories feel more exciting and smarter than many of his contemporaries. Discovering Ted Chiang as an adult felt a lot like discovering Ray Bradbury as a child. It¿s a feeling that cannot occur often, but it¿s one of the primary reasons I read.
veevoxvoom on LibraryThing 10 months ago
There¿s a lot of buzz in science fiction about Ted Chiang, who publishes rarely but whose every story seems to be a winner. Stories of Your Life is a collection of his work. Chiang is a writer who puts the science and math back in science fiction. In his stories he explores concepts such as calliagnosia to preformation theory to the concept of hell.I liked every one of his stories. Chiang is a careful, engaging, but above all, intelligent writer. He takes concepts and explores them examining all possible angles. Chiang¿s world is not black and white but full of colour. Lacking a background in science and technical knowledge, I don¿t pretend to grasp all of his hypotheses. But I don¿t feel I need to. What Chiang does is instill a sense of wonder, to make the scales fall from your eyes.Chiang exhibits an impressive variety too. He swings from advanced physics to Kabbalah with the ease of a monkey swinging from tree to tree. My favourite story is ¿Story of Your Life¿, which blew me away with its ideas but also human touch. I loved how the strings and themes were brought together so that halfway through I sat up straight in bed and yelled, ¿Holy crap, I GET it!¿ I also liked ¿Hell is the Absence of God¿ and ¿Liking What You See.¿ But really, every story in this anthology is remarkable and worth your time.
GreggD on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Tower Of Babylon (ancients build HUGE tower), Understand(human becomes meta aware, super-intelligent but so does one other), , and Hell is the Absence of God (if angels really were on earth, get to heaven by touching angel), are the 3 strongest stories.
conceptDawg on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I picked this up a the library on a whim and must say that I was quite pleased with the find. It was a nice surprise. The characters are especially engaging and it doesn¿t fall into the all too common category of futuristic science fiction. In fact, the first story in the book, ¿Tower of Babylon,¿ is set in ancient Babylon.
chellerystick on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is a book we found because one of the ScienceBlogs writers was using it in his visit to a literature class. We looked it upon it, my partner and I, and it was good. Chiang writes lovely, thought-provoking spec-fic ideas, and does so in elegant, literary prose. I felt like recommending at least one of these stories to everyone I know: the title story, "Story of Your Life," to my fellow-poets, and "Seventy-Two Letters" to my more numerical friends who will be amused by this bit of what my partner calls "alternative science" (in analogy to "alternative history"). I even bought this book for my mother's birthday (don't tell her yet), although that may mean more to those who know my mother.If you are reading this review, you probably ought to read this book. At least try it! It's short stories, so none of this getting 100 pages into it and then trying to decide if it's worth continuing.Highly recommended.
stacyinthecity on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This was a collection of short stories that was like nothing I'd ever read before. I'm still processing them, as I'm sure I will for time to come. What if the tower of Babel was real, and humans did reach all the way to heaven? What would they find when they broke through into heaven? The answer was surprising and elegant, but as satisfying as the ending was, the journey up the tower was worth the price of admission as well, with the descriptions of the tower, building it, and how the people lived there. This is how I found each of the short stories. The theme gave me more than enough to think about, but the way each story unfolded itself was beautiful. Some of the stories even impacted me in surprising ways, with tears or a deepened understanding of love.I can't recommend this collection highly enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ideas are interesting and may work well as a Physics thought experiment. As literature, it lacks depth. His characters read more like functions in an equation than the breath of life they should be. I found myself contemplating ideas as if a I were reading a paper or listening to a lecture. Not engaged in an developing story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I only started reading because of Arrival being in theaters and this had the story that it was based off of. I was not expecting so many interesting stories, characters, and ideas. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
See headline.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ted Chiang's ability to weave hard science, philosophy, and social commentary is stunning. He has the ability to deliver mind-blowing ideas couched in page - turner narratives. So, so good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Both imaginative and thought-provoking. Looking forward to reading more stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. Definitely worth the money spent. As with all short story collections, some stories were better than others. However, not a single story was awful. Good science fiction shorts are particularly difficult to come by as the author has to display a certain amount of knowledge about a subject without getting too heavy on the exposition. Mr. Chiang seems to know how to weave the science into the storytelling quite deftly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago