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Stories of Your Life and Others Paperback – Aug 2 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; First Edition edition (Aug. 2 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765304198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765304193
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,467,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is worth buying just to read 'Story of Your Life," which is just haunting. I can't say why I connect so much to this story, but it tears me apart and builds me back up each time I read it, which I do every so often. Each time it captures me afresh.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John C. Wright on Feb. 13 2003
Format: Hardcover
(WARNING! I am a science-fiction writer in economic competition with Mr. Chiang. All my gripes must be taken with a grain of salt.)
Eight well-crafted stories with engaging and interesting ideas are marred by weak endings. Each story ends with tepid pessimism.
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD.
First, the "Tower of Babylon" tale engages the reader with solid characterization and a thought-provoking description of what the mighty engineering feat of "building a tower to heaven" would have been like, had the world been flat. It is filled with amusing and authentic touches, like the Egyptian stone-masons brought in to chip through the hard surface of the sky-dome, or the description of how mid-levels of the tower rendered inhospitable by the too-near approach of the fiery sun. But the ending is weak, and the immense tower turns out to have been built in vain.
In "Understand" the super intelligent man is obsessed with finding a perfect expression of linguistic philosophy that will express the universe. The depiction of a mind smarter than any mind of man is wonderfully well-done, and the story is worth reading just for this alone. The super-mind discovers a second super intelligent man. One man wants nothing but to be left alone while he pursues his research, while the other wishes to use his powers to benefit mankind peacefully. Neither one is threatening or interfering with the goals of the other. For no apparent reason, and without any plot-purpose, these two "superior intelligences" both mutually agree that there is no possible way they both can exist, they duel, and one murders the other. What a waste. Maybe they were not so bright after all.
In "Story of your Life" a mother, through the study of an alien language, learns how to see the universe from a timeless point of view.
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By CJClink on Nov. 9 2011
Format: Paperback
I only just finished reading this book on my Kindle. I was in awe as I read these stories. First, they are excellent, but in addition, they are incredibly well written. I would commend anyone who wants to be a published author to read this book. Study how a master does it. Be amazed.
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By A Customer on Feb. 19 2004
Format: Paperback
Possibly the best collection of SHORT science fiction that I have ever read! All of the stories are engrossing and intellectually stimulating.
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By Micole I. Sudberg on Jan. 2 2004
Format: Paperback
To my taste, Ted Chiang is SF's preeminent working hard SF writer, and one of the best creators of thought experiments the genre has ever seen. He doesn't write much, and so far all he's produced has been short fiction; it's hard to imagine his particular techniques--and his focus on following premises to their logical conclusions, and not a word farther--working at greater length. I especially recommend him to people who like Connie Willis' "At the Rialto" and "Schwartzenchild Radius"; like Willis, he is very fond of structuring stories as the living exemplars of scientific theories. Depending on how you look at the stories, they are either using science as a metaphor for human experience--or using human experience as a metaphor for science.
There's one weak story here, "Understand," which wastes a very intriguing Flowers for Algernon/Camp Concentration-like setup of the creation of superintelligent beings on a cliched contest for supremacy among supermen: the notes indicate this was the earliest written, if not the earliest published. The earliest published was "Tower of Babylon," a matter-of-fact SF-like practical recounting of the construction of the Tower of Babel; it won a Nebula award. Other stories include "Seventy-Two Letters," a similarly SFnal investigation of a fantasy premise (What if medieval theories of human reproduction were true? And the answer is: If Nature hadn't invented DNA, humans would have had to); "Hell Is the Absence of God," a cruel, utterly matter-of-fact story set in the universe of fundamentalist Christianity; "Division by Zero," the story of a mathematician who learns mathematics is not true; and "The Evolution of Human Science," a scientific article wondering what's left for humans in a future where posthuman evolution (a la Ken MacLeod) has succeeded.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book. All of the stories collected here are excellent, but there were three that I especially liked:
"Understand" is about acquiring high intelligence through advanced technology, which is a pretty common topic in science fiction, but this one was different in how detailed and downright imaginative it was. In fact it almost convinces you that the author is actually writing from experience; his ideas seem so close to reality.
"Division by Zero" is not science fiction; instead it presents a fascinating mathematical concept that requires a lot of (rather enjoyable) brain-bending to grasp, though still managing to tell a story that touches your heart.
"Hell is the Absence of God" is an intriguing thought experiment, telling the story of what the world and what people would be like if the Christian form of God not only existed but actively participated in everyday life.
I also really liked the story notes at the end.
Though I was kind of bothered by the hasty endings to most of the stories. I don't mind being made to draw conclusions and mentally tie up strings, but sometimes here they were ended just too abruptly.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes creative, character-centered science fiction unlike anything you've ever read. I look forward to reading more of Ted Chiang's work.
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