Stories of Your Life and Others

By Ted Chiang,

Book cover of Stories of Your Life and Others

Book description

'A science fiction genius . . . Ted Chiang is a superstar.' - Guardian

With Stories of Your Life and Others, his masterful first collection, multiple-award-winning author Ted Chiang deftly blends human emotion and scientific rationalism in eight remarkably diverse stories, all told in his trademark precise and evocative prose.…

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Why read it?

11 authors picked Stories of Your Life and Others as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’ve been wanting to dive more deeply into Ted Chiang’s fiction since seeing the movie Arrival and reading his essays in The New Yorker. This collection did not disappoint.

I happened to be reading it in the hours and days after the birth of my second child, stealing minutes to do so while breast pumping.

I kept remarking to my husband, “This man’s mind…his mind!” Dazzling. And when, a few days after birth, our baby had a serious health scare, the message of “The Story of Your Life”—that if given the chance to see a horrible future in which you…

What fascinates me most about this novella is its ability to capture such depth and fullness in such a short length.

This book explores the concept of time and language, and how the way humans perceive time vastly differs from the alien species, and the way language ultimately affects time perception and decision-making as well.

From Ai's list on reads for a glimpse at humanity.

Ted Chiang is one of the most creative authors of my generation. Each of the stories in this collection builds exquisite worlds. Take, for instance, Story of Your Life (the book is named after this novel, which was later adapted into the movie Arrival). It features a linguist who, to decipher an alien language, must learn to shift her time perspective from the usual past-to-future flow into one where all events are simultaneous. Chiang skillfully builds his narrative to allow us to savor this perplexing atemporal frame. And he still manages to deliver a delicate picture of a mother…

I like Story of Your Life for its unusual aspect and mystery. We do not discover why the aliens visit Earth briefly before leaving again. While their spacecraft hover, mirror-like objects land in various locations, each acting as a means of communicating with their vessels. Their visit profoundly affects the life of linguist Dr. Louise Banks, who is assigned to establish how to communicate with them.

She discovers they have separate spoken and written languages. Unlike terrestrial languages, where each sentence proceeds serially, theirs are delivered in their entirety. Understanding their written language allows her to develop the capability to…

From Owen's list on accessible first contact sci-fi.

After reading “Story of Your Life” in The Year’s Best Science Fiction in 1999, I sat in my chair for a while, in wonder and tears, trying to take it all in. Many people know the basic plot, since it was filmed as The Arrival, but as good as the movie is, it can't come close to the novella. Chiang deftly tells the story in a way that reflects how the protagonist learns the language of the aliens—and how it changes her and the way she thinks, quite literally. It is probably the single best story I know for…

This is a collection of short stories and novellas with likely the most popular being Story of Your Life which became the movie Arrival. These stories are definitely not for the linear thinker! They often take unexpected turns that make one wonder what is going on. Yet, they are entertaining and provide a lot for one to ponder and consider.

Even if you have watched the theatrical adaptation, Arrival, this story is still well worth the read, thanks to its in-depth look at its characters' lives. Stories of Your Life is one of those sci-fi short stories that manages to be both educational and emotional, allowing us a peek into what first contact might look like, and how we humans struggle with the abstract notion of free will. The core of this story is about a relationship between a mother and her daughter, and while I won’t give away how this culminates, I can safely say that it will have…

From Daniel's list on speculative short stories about life.

Most of the “mystery” books I’m recommending here aren’t categorized as such — especially this one, which you’ll find in the sci-fi section of your bookstore. But sci-fi abounds with mysteries; in much of my favorite sci-fi, the characters are undergoing some sort of deeply human yet otherworldly experience that’s essentially a mystery that they (or the reader) must solve. Ted Chiang is a writer highly skilled at touching the mysteries and paradoxes of our existence, then distilling them into beautiful stories that cause my sense of the wondrous to expand. I love the way his stories make me feel.…

Honestly, if you haven’t read this book, I might ask where you’ve been for the last 20 years. Story of Your Life is a beautiful piece, warping time and space to ask questions about destiny, loss, and with some good aliens. Even if you have seen its film adaptation Arrival, you should still come back here and read what Chiang put down. And that’s not even all that this book has to offer! Such stories as Towers of Babylon, or Like What you See: A Documentary have always become such instant classics for me, that it feels like I’ve…

It’s rare that a short story collection grabs me with the same intensity of a good novel, but this collection not only grabbed me, it shook me about and then tossed me aside, dazed. Ted Chiang is a singular writer, and the stories in this collection (including the one that inspired the movie Arrival) reveal a startling, forward-thinking intellect—not to mention exceptional talent. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy today.

From Alexandra's list on dark futures with hope.

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