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Stories of Your Life and Others Paperback – August 2, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books (August 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765304198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765304193
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (117 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,376,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This marvelous collection by one of science fiction's most thoughtful and graceful writers belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in literary science fiction.

Collected here for the first time, Ted Chiang's award-winning stories--recipients of the Nebula, Sturgeon, Campbell, and Asimov awards--offer a feast of science, speculation, humanity, and lyricism. Standouts include "Tower of Babylon," in which a miner ascends the fabled tower in order to break through the vault of heaven; "Division by Zero," a precise and heartbreaking examination of the disintegration of hope and love; and "Story of Your Life," in which a linguist learns an alien language that reshapes her view of the world. Chiang has the gift that lies at the heart of good science fiction: a human story, beautifully told, in which the science is an expression of the deeper issues that the characters must confront. Full of remarkable ideas and unforgettable moments, Stories of Your Life and Others is highly recommended. --Roz Genessee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Here's the first must-read SF book of the year. Chiang has acquired a massive reputation on the basis of very few pieces of short fiction. This collection contains all six previously published tales, including the Nebula Award-winning "Tower of Babylon," plus a new story, "Liking What You See: A Documentary." It's rare for a writer to become so prominent so fast. In this case, though, the hype is deserved. Chiang has mastered an extremely tricky type of SF story. He begins with a startling bit of oddity, then, as readers figure out what part of the familiar world has been twisted, they realize that it was just a small part of a much larger structure of marvelous, threatening strangeness. Reading a Chiang story means juggling multiple conceptions of what is normal and right. Probably this kind of brain twisting can be done with such intensity only in shorter lengths; if these stories were much longer, readers' heads might explode. Still, the most surprising thing is how much feeling accompanies the intellectual exercises. Whether their initial subject is ancient Babylonians building a tower that reaches the base of Heaven, translation of an alien language that shows a woman a new way to view her life as a mother, or mass-producing golems in an alternative Victorian England, Chiang's stories are audacious, challenging and moving. They resemble the work of a less metaphysical Philip K. Dick or a Borges with more characterization and a grasp of cutting-edge science.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most of the stories have great fundamental, thought provoking ideas and are very well written.
Eclectic Reader
One of the best and most innovative collections of short science fiction I have seen in years, I just have to love Ted Chiang's writing.
jaylark
It is the kind of story that just makes you think and ponder for months, even years, at least if you like language, as I do.
rbnn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I gave up a decade ago on trying to keep up with the science fiction magazines, so I only recently became aware of Ted Chiang's wide range of ideas and considerable proficiency at communicating them. There are eight stories in this anthology; all of them are at least good and several are excellent. Perhaps the best is the title piece, "Story of Your Life," which is also the only one I had previously read. It's about simultaneity vs. sequentiality and free will vs. predestination, with a strong taste of the sort of notions regarding time that Vonnegut originally made use of in _Slaughterhouse Five_. "Tower of Babylon" is sort of Babylonian science fiction, about the building of a mud-brick tower that takes four months to ascend and which reaches all the way to the vaults of heaven. An intriguing yarn, though the ending is a little weak. "Understand" is an interesting kind of riff on "Flowers for Algernon," but with the implications very much updated. "Division by Zero" is about the effect on a woman mathematician who discovers (and proves) that the basic principals of math are quite arbitrary and inconsistent. While it's a good psychological portrait, and also vividly presents some (to me) novel ideas, the math and the character development really have nothing to do with each other. "Seventy-Two Letters" is set in an alternate Victorian London in which nomenclature, the act of bestowing names on things, has become an experimental science. There's a certain Bruce Sterling flavor here, but it's really not at all derivative. "The Evolution of Human Science" is a short-short that originally appeared in NATURE. I'm not sure I got the point of it, frankly, though it has a rather neat twisty ending.Read more ›
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Maximiliano F Yofre on November 2, 2010
Format: Paperback
As I say in my Amazon Home Page I'm a sci-fi fan, nevertheless Ted Chiang was unknown to me. This year I've started to attend a seminar on "Creative Writing & Sci-Fi" and this author was introduced to us.
I'm delighted!

"Stories of Your Life and Others" (2002) is a wonderful collection of short stories of such quality I haven't seen since Sturgeon, Cordwainer Smith or Octavia Butler. Engaging, intelligent, well researched, creative, puzzling amongst many other adjectives may be attributed to this book!

I'll detail each story with comment & evaluation.

"Tower of Babylon" (1990) Nebula Award winner is a kind of Sumerian-sci-fi! The construction of the famed Tower is in its way nearing completion and miners from Elam and Egypt are convoked to penetrate Heaven's Dome. The story chronicles their lengthy ascent giving way to unexpected results. 5 stars.

"Understand" (1991) have some points in common with Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon" (1959 and 1966) versions; nevertheless enhanced human intelligence is boarded from a very different point, confronting selfish and altruistic positions. IMHO this is one of the best of the volume. 5 stars plus.

"Division by Zero" (1991) with a deep mathematical basement, it is an interesting tale, just a little too complex for my taste. 4 stars.

"Story of Your Life" (1998) is an incredible good story about deciphering alien communications. Not a new theme in sci-fi but extraordinarily solved by Chiang, earned for his author Nebula Award and T. Sturgeon Memorial Award. 5 stars plus.

"Seventy-Two Letters" (2000) aka "Vanishing Acts", Sidewise Award winner is a story situated in an alternative Victorian era, populated with golems and the power of written names. 4 stars.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan A. Turner VINE VOICE on October 22, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is some of the best SF being written today. The stories are uniformly good, and some of them are spectacular. Every one of them has an idea at its core, and the ideas will remain with you after you finish reading. That's one of the things that SF is supposed to do (but usually doesn't).
I'd compare this book to Greg Egan's _Axiomatic_, another collection of fascinating idea-driven work. Chiang's vision is not as dark as Egan's, and he's not nearly as fixated on the idea of posthumanity, but his breadth is if anything greater. These stories range in type from the classical-SF ("Liking What You See") to charcter pieces ("Stories of Your Life") to alternative but utterly convincing societies ("72 Letters"). No, there are no space battles, no massive technical infodumps, and not a great deal of action here. Don't worry; you probably won't miss it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on September 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others collects all his fiction to date, including one new story. It is an excellent collection. I reread the earlier stories for the first time in a long time -- I was particularly impressed on rereading by "Tower of Babylon", which posits a cosmology in which a Tower of Babel could actually be successfully built. I admit I didn't quite get "Division by Zero", about a woman mathematician driven to despair when she proves that arithmetic is inconsistent. "Understand" is a nice, dark, story about a man who becomes a superman when he undergoes an experimental brain treatment -- and what happens when he finds another superman.
Of the later stories, "Story of Your Life" remains my favorite, both very very moving and mind-blowing as well, told in second person successfully (and for good reason). It accomplishes the rare feat of combining an interesting bit of SFnal speculation (concerning aliens who perceive time differently than we do), worth a story on its own merits, with a moving human story (about a woman and her daughter, who dies young), and using the SF ideas to really drive home the human themes. While at the same time maintaining interest as pure SF. I'm fond of saying that there are two types of SF: stories about the science, and stories which use the science to be about people. This is both types in one. "Seventy-Two Letters" has a great central idea, and it does some nice things working out the implications, but the story itself is resolved with too much actiony hugger-mugger. "Hell is the Absence of God" again has a neat central conceit, and is uncompromising in working it out -- but I admit I was confused by the ending. His Nature short-short is a nice speculation on the future of science in a "post-human" world.
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