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This compilation of short stories were pretty profound.
I walked away feeling like they all revolved around the pursuit of knowledge and the issue of tackling the unknown unknowns of this world, how you can't predict the consequences of your actions, and how people will react differently to new discoveries. Very neat, though sometimes I had a hard time keeping track of the story but oh well.
Ted Chiang explores all sorts of interesting hypothetical scenarios through the eight short stories in this book. The imaginative stories, many of which are award-winners, are populated with golems, scientists, squid-like aliens, mathematicians, angels, übermenschen, and homonculi. "Story of Your Life" was the basis for the movie Arrival. "Liking What You See" appeared in a James Tiptree anthology. Themes across the collection include: frustration with religion, perception of reality, navigation of relationships, and investigation of the limits of human ability. This book will give you a lot to think about.
Woah! I definitely think his stories are way better than the Black Mirror episodes I have watched. Ted Chiang is brilliant in his imagination. He has done a great background research work and narrates each of his Novum with such conviction that you'll get into the world he creates in no time. I recommend it to all lovers of Science Fiction.
This was an interesting collection of stories. I had previously read some of Ted Chiang's writing that is available online and really liked some of it (The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate and The Lifecycle of Software Objects in particular) and I loved the movie Arrival, so I was interested to read more of his work.
Pretty much all of the stories in this book are based on interesting concepts. I particularly liked Hell Is the Absence of God. I didn't really care for some of the other stories, but even the ones I didn't particularly like did have some interesting ideas and made me think. Overall, I'd say this collection is worth checking out if you're a science fiction fan.
I assumed this was a novel to better understand the movie. It is not. It is a book of 5 short stories. I would not recommend. Movie was awesome.
It was truly a mind-blowing experience. It took me a long time to read. I needed time to wrap my head around some ideas. I had to think. My favourite stories were "Understand" and "Hell is the Absence of God."
I read about half of Mr. Chiang's stories and found them moderately interesting. I got the book because the film "Arrival" was based on "Story of Your Life" within. I'd rate it 3 to 3.5 stars.
Rarely do I find the underlying book is NOT better than the film, but I thought the film "Arrival" was much more interesting and entertaining. Notable is Mr. Chiang's sense of humor, which doesn't compare with that of the film, and is even slightly annoying in its lameness. The dialog between the story's two principals fell flat, as did the dialog between the story's mother and daughter, where it got super-corny. Story of Your Life was replete with technical linguistics details -- yet the story left me so disinterested in linguistics, I felt no compulsion to do any research. On the other hand the FILM left me so interested in many of the film's aspects, I anxiously awaited the arrival of the book on the HOLD shelf and was totally disappointed. This sort of surprised me since I'm conversational in several languages and very much enjoy learning them. Some of the the other stories were too long boring, or dark for me.
Just my subjective, personal taste, but the film was done so exquisitely, visually, it inspired gorgeous, color, 3D dreams in me, while the Chiang's short story dragged and evoked NO strong images in my mind. And aren't audio narratives and books supposed to excel at working the listener or reader's imagination? Maybe the timeline and 3-dimensional nature of the aliens' languages (and plot) was difficult to convey in print. Some of the Chiang's other stories were decent -- some "married" science (or science fiction) and non-science. But not in the manner other Sci-Fi writers do. As a former SciFi LOVER, I didn't much enjoy Story of Your Life.
At last, a book I truly enjoyed and I'm usually not a fan of the short story. I will buy this book that I may spend more time with each story. Thought provoking.
I don't usually enjoy reading short stories, but since I liked the movie "Arrival", I decided I'd read the story on which it was based: "Story of Your Life". I really enjoyed Ted Chiang's writing, so I read the whole book! He is a very conceptual writer, and it was interesting how he explored science concepts in his stories.
The only story I really enjoyed in this set of short stories was "The Story of Your Life". This is the short story the film "Arrival" was taken from. It differs significantly from the film. There is no war. No China involvement. I'm not sure the number of looking glasses (the alien ships) was ever given and it was 12 in the film. The aliens are named Raspberry and Flapper and neither of them die (unlike Abbott and Costello in the film). And the daughter didn't die of cancer; she died in a climbing accident so it's not like she suffered. Chiang is an excellent writer. It's refreshing to read something that isn't filled with adjectives, adverbs, and metaphors. Just good writing with a story.
Stories so complex and rich that I'll be coming back to them, which is rare for me. The title story, on which the movie "Arrival" is based, was not my favorite in this collection.
How do I even begin describing a book as unique as this? I don't think I've read anything as wholly original since the first time I opened a China Miéville book (who is quoted in a blurb on the back cover). Every story is meticulously researched, with so much detail and complex thought it took several rereadings to parse some paragraphs. He presents multiple sides of moral questions in such a way that I'm not sure where I stand. Pure genius.
A wonderful collection! Certain stories (Division by zero, Seventy-two letters) were lackluster. Most people will want to read this for "Story of your life" (upon which the great movie "Arrival" was based), but the other stories are brilliant - worth a read. Chiang's background in technical writing is unsurprising, evident in his sharp prose and crisp, careful, and evocative descriptions.
The fantastic movie, Arrival, with an outstanding performance by Amy Adams, derives from Ted's Story of Your Life - - although my all time fave is Understand!
This collection of stories is truly worth the read. Not all the stories are a hit but at least two of them, Story of Your Life and Understand should become SF classics. Ted Chiang did years of research for each story and it shows. He doesn't write much but the stories he has written are mostly small gems to read and re-read for pleasure.
Story of Your Life was my favorite because it initially was about how difficult it would be to communicate with aliens but really was about destiny versus free will. If you know your future can you change it or is the future already formed and we're merely actors in our own story. A Greek drama set in a futuristic setting with more than a few mind bending questions. Excellent.
I do not wish to contradict other reviewers who obviously appreciate Chaing's deep mixture of science fiction with theology and philosophy. I have read many science fiction works with enjoyment, including the C S Lewis trilogy which connects to his religious beliefs, but these stories were either too deep or too cumbersome in detail.
Well worth reading for fans of science fiction and speculative fiction.
I could not wait for each of these phenomenal short stories to end just so I could see what the next one was about. I loved them all, except for a piece titled 72 letters. That one almost made me want to give up reading for life. However, seeing as there are no 12 step meetings for book addicts I will just have to soldier on. I mean 72 letters was like Branson, Missouri. It takes a long time to get there and once you arrive you realize that it really sucks. This was the Shoji Tabuchi and Yakov Smirnoff of literature.
Some very good short stories, but what earns this collection five stars is Chiang's classic, Understand. There are few truly classic stories along the plot of super-intelligence, and Flowers for Algernon by Keyes, Limitless [originally titled Dark Fields] by Alan Glynn, and Ted Chiang's Understand make up this category.
Overwritten, great chunks very skimmable. There are paragraphs of details that just stop the story dead.
Read his novella, it's way better and doesn't suffer from these problems.
This collection holds 8 stories, each interesting and thought provoking in their own way and none of them boring.
I really love short stories and tend to add an extra star just because I love them so much. In this case, the book earned every one of these 5 stars with wonderful writing and fantastic concepts.
The story 'The story of your life' is worth 5 stars on its worth. Yes, I'm baised. That short was already my all time favourtie short before I even picked up this book. But when you read the strength in scope and ideas in the others, you'll find my rating easily justified. Whether it is the new spin on the Tower of Babylon, to the utterly compelling duel between two demi-gods, or the analysis of modern social psychology, this book hits you where good sci-fi should. Right in the noggin.
Some may clamour and state the writing is just plain clean. Or that the characterisation is only at best decent. But that is to miss the point of sci-fi itself. It has always been about expanding your horizons, and in that sense, this book is flawless. One of the best ways to intergrate oneself into modern sci-fi.