Science Fiction Book Review


Stories of Your Life and Others

(2005) Ted Chiang, Tor, 6.99, pbk, 333pp, ISBN 0-330-42664-8

This collection includes "Tower of Babylon" (1990), in which a tower is built so that people can tunnel into the vault of Heaven; "Understand" (1991) about a couple of superintelligent protagonists and their perceptions; "Division by Zero" (1991) about what happens when your mathematical certainties disappear; "Story of Your Life" (1998), in which a translator working to communicate with aliens (heptapods) discovers that by learning their 'language' she can know her own future; "Seventy-Two Letters" (2000) about automata; the ultra short which first appeared in Nature, "The Evolution of Human Science" (2000) about a scientific journal in the future; "Hell is the Absence of God" (2001), in which angels distribute cures and calamities randomly; and, finally, "Liking What You See: A Documentary" (2002) about a treatment which allows users to supress their sense of beauty. Now, personally I think all these stories are brilliant, and I can not be alone because apparently Ted Chiang has won 3 Nebula Awards, a Hugo, the Ted Sturgeon Memorial Award and the John W Campbell Award. So my question is, why haven't I heard of him until now? (Though actually the first and last time I encountered him before this was for the Nature piece, then called "Catching Crumbs from the Table"). And, more importantly (considering that Stories... first came out in 2002), is there any more? I heartily recommend this volume to all SF readers, and would probably recommend more if only I knew of its existence...

Tony Chester


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