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Stories of Your Life and Others by [Chiang, Ted]
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Stories of Your Life and Others Kindle Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Length: 306 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

Shining, haunting, mind-blowing tales . . . this collection is a pure marvel. [Ted] Chiang is so exhilarating so original so stylish he just leaves you speechless. I always suggest a person read at least 52 books a year for proper mental functioning but if you only have time for one, be at peace: you found it (Junot Diaz)

United by a humane intelligence that speaks very directly to the reader, and makes us experience each story with immediacy and Chiang's calm passion (China Miéville, Guardian)

Ted is a national treasure...each of those stories is a goddamned jewel (Cory Doctorow)

Meticulously pieced together, utterly thought through, Chiang's stories emerge slowly...but with the perfection of slow-growing crystal (Lev Grossman)

Chiang writes seldom, but his almost unfathomably wonderful stories tick away with the precision of a Swiss watch--and explode in your awareness with shocking, devastating force (Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review))

He puts the science back in science fiction--brilliantly (Booklist (Starred Review))

Confirms that blending science and fine art at this length can produce touching works, tales as intimate as our own blood cells, with the structural strength of just-discovered industrial alloys (Seattle Times)

Chiang derides lazy thinking, weasels it out of its hiding place, and leaves it cowering (Washington Post)

Essential. You won't know SF if you don't read Ted Chiang (Greg Bear)

Science fiction is a genre that often works well off the page. Spaceships and robots are just as thrilling on screen as in books. But Mr Chiang's approach is irreplaceable. His stories mirror the process of scientific discovery: complex ideas emerge from the measured, methodical accumulation of information until epiphany strikes. . . . The best science fiction inspires awe for the natural properties of the universe; it renders the fundamentals of science poignant and affecting. Mr Chiang's writing manages all of this. He deserves to be more widely read (The Economist blog)

Throughout all his work, though no more so than in "Story of Your Life," you can feel his months of removing sentences from his stories. Perhaps that he writes so little does something good for him, or maybe it's just that he doesn't write enough (Choire Sicha)

The stories range widely in time, subject and style but are united by a patient but ruthless fascination with the limits of knowledge (Ed Park, Los Angeles Times)

Chiang is the real deal. His debut collection, Stories of Your Life and Others is one of the finest collections of short fiction I have read in the last decade. These tales possess the imaginative frisson that is a trademark of the best conceptual fiction, but, also bespeak a confident prose style and a willingness to take chances in tone and narrative structure (Ted Gioia)

It will not take readers new to these stories very long to appreciate their quality and beauty (https://www.sfsite.com)

I think Chiang is one of the great science fiction short story writers of all time . . . I get absorbed in things, I say "Hey, that's nifty," but it's not often these days that I have that "What? What? Wow!" experience. Chiang does it for me practically every time. There's no wonder he keeps winning awards-he really is just that good. I generally try not to simply burble incoherently that things are brilliant and you have to read them, but faced with stories this awesome, that's pretty much all I can do (Jo Walton, Tor.com)

In Chiang's hands, SF really is the "literature of ideas" it is often held to be, and the genre's traditional "sense of wonder" is paramount . . . the collection is united by a humane intelligence that speaks very directly to the reader, and makes us experience each story with immediacy and Chiang's calm passion.
'Meticulously pieced together, utterly thought through, Chiang's stories emerge slowly...but with the perfection of slow-growing crystal

(Lev Grossman)

Review

"Essential. You won't know SF if you don't read Ted Chiang."-Greg Bear
"Ted Chiang is one of the rare contemporary science-fiction writers who has made his considerable reputation without producing one novel. His stories brim with originality and seduce with their complexity."-Ellen Datlow
"One of our very best writers. Prepare: Ted Chiang will astonish you."-James Patrick Kelly

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3570 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1101972122
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (26 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0048EKOP0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #624,057 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
This has to be one of the best SF short story collections I've read in a long while. The concepts and McGuffins that drive the plots- from the disproving of arithmetic to an industrial revolution based around golems to a society that can prevent the perception of beauty- are novel and intricately thought out. Moreover, they provide a motor for human drama that stops them simply becoming cold philosophizing and makes them genuinely moving. Ted Chiang feels completely in control of his story-telling, relying on ingenuity and subtle writing, rather than bombastic fireworks, to incite wonder. Read it if at all possible!
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This might just be the best single-author SF collection I've ever read. Chiang isn't a typical SF author in at least two ways - he won the Nebula award for his first published story, and in over twenty years he's published fewer than twenty stories, in marked contrast to the genre's usual manic overproduction - but what a shame there aren't more like him. There are eight stories in this collection, namely:

Tower of Babylon
Understand
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

They're all completely different from each other, seven of them are masterpieces by any reasonable standard and the other ("The Evolution of Human Science"), a short-short, is damned good as short-shorts go. Despite their difference from each other, Chiang's stories are all characterised by lucid prose, deep humanity and amazing inventiveness. Way back in the seventies, Ed Ferman and Barry Malzberg produced an anthology, "Final Stage", which attempted to be the "ultimate" SF anthology, by asking authors associated with particular SF themes to produce the definitive story in that category. The results then were patchy at best, but damned if Chiang hasn't pretty much done the job single-handedly.

In other words:

"Tower of Babylon", though you may not spot it at first, is an absolutely classic space exploration narrative, albeit one where the cosmology is utterly different from our own universe. "Understand" is a gripping riff on superhuman powers, so smartly done it takes a while to notice it's kinda Prof X versus Magneto writ large.
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Short stories in SciFi more than any other genre are seminal, a lot of the scifi films out there are drawn and inspired by scifi short stories, rather then novels. Good scifi presents a new concept and an idea to the world and in a way it expands our consciousness and in some cases our aspirations as a species.

A good SciFi story acts as a simulation for these concepts and ideas and then when you lay the book down you ponder them and they linger with you. SciFi short stories gives you a blast of a new concept, it makes you say wow, it feeds your imagination and gives you hope or despair for humanity. They are like those all night conversations we had as teenagers when all was possible.

But unfortunately the SciFi short story genre was dead for a long time There were some out there but none seems to rise to the mark of the stories from the scifi greats from the 50s and 60s. There are good scifi writers out there, but none seems to have a high regard for short stories. Perhaps the change in the publishing and magazine industry was to blame, I don't know.

BUT HELLO the short scifi short story genre is back, and this book shoots past the high mark. My only problem with this book was it ended too soon. I simply couldn't put it down, some of the stories are enthralling and linger with you way after you have finished them. I can't recommend this book enough and I hope Ted Chiang has more to offer.
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Ted Chiang's short stories can probably be classified as science fiction, although they are quite different from anything else I have read in the genre. The thoroughness of his research is quite incredible, and since he has decided, rather than to mine away at one particular small field of interest, but to make every story completely different to the last, you can understand why he has had such a small output of work over the last twenty years. The overall quality of the stories in this book is probably higher than that of any other science fiction anthology I've read, with the possible exception of "I Robot", which is going back a bit. In fact, Chiang reminded me of Asimov both in the level of his research and knowledge, and his ability to to tell you something you didn't know, and then make you feel that it is the most important thing in the world whilst you are reading it.

Each of the stories in the collection is quite different. The first story, for example, is a science fiction story set in biblical times about a worker on the Tower of Babel. Two things fascinate about this story: both the wealth of detail that really create a world that you can believe in, and also the suspense that the author creates as the tower gets further and further towards the vault of heaven. In "Understand", which is one of the two standout stories of the collection, Chiang looks at how increased intelligence might affect a human. I don't want to give more away, but the story is an incredible piece of writing: brimming with believable technical detail, but yet as exciting as any thriller you have ever read.
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