This new edition of Ted Chiang's masterful first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, includes his first eight published stories. Combining the precision and scientific curiosity of Kim Stanley Robinson with Lorrie Moore's cool, clear love of language and narrative intricacy, this award-winning collection offers listeners the dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar.
Stories of Your Life and Others presents characters who must confront sudden change - the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens - while striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. In the amazing and much-lauded title story, a grieving mother copes with divorce and the death of her daughter by drawing on her knowledge of alien languages and non-linear memory recollection.
A clever pastiche of news reports and interviews chronicles a college's initiative to "turn off" the human ability to recognize beauty in "Liking What You See: A Documentary." With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty and constant change, and also by beauty and wonder.
©2002 Ted Chiang (P)2014 Tantor
"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, Starred Review)
Originally published at: A Girl that Likes Books
This was the September pick for the Sword and Laser book club
I have to admit that I was reluctant at first to give this book a try. First because I haven't read a lot of short stories so I wasn't sure this collection would grab me. Second, I went with the Audio version because my library didn't have it and I decided just to go with my Audible credit. The only other collection of short stories I've read recently was METAtropolis (also in audio) and while I enjoyed it, it didn't amaze me. Let me tell you, Stories of Your Life and Others might be the book that convinced me to try short stories more often.
The collection is fantastic, I wasn't even finished and I kept telling people they had to give it a try. While very different, the short stories flow nicely. The fact that this time there were all written by the same person is really evident, even though the voice on each story changes quite a bit changing point of views and even presenting one as a documentary.
Goodreads describes the collection as multiple stories where the characters encounter sudden change. However, more than just sudden change, I believe that the common thread that this collection has is preconceptions and destroying or debunking them. From the concept of beauty to mathematics and even procreation, Chiang gives a new light to all of these subjects with touches of science fiction and even a bit of fantasy.
All the worlds presented are beautifully constructed; at no point did I get the feeling that what was being presented made no sense in the respective universe, and this is extremely important to me. This is not to say that the elements that made these stories feel outside of our world weren't there. They are obviously there without making it feel overdone and so my mind entered each story smoothly.
As might be expected, I liked some of the stories better than other, my favorites being Story of your Life and Others, which deals with the concept of language and physics, and Liking what you See, which deals with the concept and perception of beauty. Extra points for Understand not using the "we only use 10% of our brains" trope and actually going with something different.
Both narrators did a terrific job. Only at Liking What you See do we get to hear them at almost the same time, but I think they were perfect choices all the way through.
The type of book you can't put down. Pretty much each story could be the basis for a longer piece.
Really cool collection of short stories. Recommended by a friend and I would recommend it on to more myself. Great.
These are some of the best scifi stories I've read in awhile. Many of them ive in a deep world that could easily be turned into full novels. The characters are interesting and engading and the plots are wild.
This is scifi that even non-scifi people will love
I really loved this collection of stories. All of them are thought provoking and emotionally engaging. I had to stop between stories just to collect myself and revel in the reaction to each finale. Every tale is performed well by a many actors adding character and depth. Highly recommended.
Great overall experience , the stories are beautifully written,and subtle on one hand. On the other hand the performance is great as well.
How could the tower of babel be built, how would a mad scientist view the world, What if we could make ourselves unaffected by people's looks, and what if Angel sightings were common everyday occurrences and we could see the deceased in heaven or hell? These are some of the stories this collection examines with their social, scientific and psychological impact. Some stories better than other, aimed more at plot and themes so some readers may find them boring.
Awesome read. Don't let the slow start fool you. There are two stories in here I'll never forget (one is being made into a movie).
An interesting and often fun collection of short stories, that get a bit bogged down with noticeable exposition. Ted Chiang does a marvelous job of examining religious mythology in ‘Hell Is The Absence Of God’, while other stories drawing from similar source material are merely entertaining. If you’re religious, you’ll probably enjoy these stories more than I did. These are the author’s early works, and you can experience his progression as a writer over the course of this collection, which is neat. The strongest stories, whose themes and ideas linger, are ‘Understand’, ‘Story Of Your Life’, ‘Hell Is The Absence of God’, and ‘Liking What You See: A Documentary’. The other four tales are entertaining, but... lack something to make them spectacular.
All that being said, Abby Craden and Todd McLaren do an amazing job at narration. Their efforts are slightly marred by odd leveling issues with the audio file, but still shine through.
I have mixed feelings about the stories - they're original and often thought provoking, but often frustrating and incomplete-feeling. The narration, though, is among the best I've heard. Abby Craden, in particular, has a delightful voice that she uses to give distinction to an impressive range of characters. Usually I listen to audiobooks at greater than 1x, but this is worth listening to at normal speed for the performance.
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