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Stories of Your Life and Others

4.35  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,948 Ratings  ·  1,016 Reviews
This new edition of Ted Chiang's masterful first collection, "Stories of Your Life and Others," includes his first eight published stories plus the author's story notes and a cover that the author commissioned himself. Combining the precision and scientific curiosity of Kim Stanley Robinson with Lorrie Moore's cool, clear love of language and narrative intricacy, this awar ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2002)
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These are amazing, more than 4 stars, and worth propping open on my steering wheel and glancing down to grab up a thought-ful of words at a time on straighaways and gentle curves.*

As far as I can gather, Ted Chiang is an egghead scientist (technical writer?) who attended a fiction writing workshop and began belting out these incredibly well thought out short stories that have much more science than the typical science fiction. He's won enough awards that he once turned down a Hugo nomination for
Jul 04, 2016 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
If you want to keep up with the Joneses in the scifi reading community you will have to read this short story collection. Considering he has published less than 50 stories and not a single novel Ted Chiang is one of today's best known sf authors among sf readers, this does not make him a household name but he is a force to be reckoned with. It is also remarkable how many major sf awards he has won given the relatively small number of stories he has published. In other words he is terrific withou ...more
Dec 19, 2011 Simeon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Story of Your Life

Told from the perspective of a mother remembering her child. Absolutely heartbreaking. And it was only 50 pages.

The mother, a linguist, is recruited by the government to interpret the language of an alien species, and she adopts a new perception of reality.

Easily one of the best short stories ever written.

The Tower of Babylon

A weird and mysterious way to start the short stories collection. Rewriting legend; as always with Chiang, best prefaced with the words: "Imagine if..."

6.0 stars. Simply put, this is the single best collection of short fiction (science fiction or otherwise) that I have ever read. While my personal favorite is "Hell is the Absence of God," each and every story has something memorable, something original and something brilliant to offer. If you have not experienced Mr. Chiang's warmly intelligent and scientific yet emotional prose, then do yourself a favor and IMMEDIATELY go and get a copy of this collection. You will be very glad you did. HIGHES ...more
Jan 07, 2011 j rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: totes
Recommended to j by: blogs
When I tell people I don't like short stories (and really, I don't), what I mean is that I don't like literary short stories that offer us, say, a snapshot of someone's rather normal life, and wow, look at the way this small scene profoundly illuminates a larger wholBORING.

It turns out I do like short sci-fi, though. I think this is probably because sci-fi is naturally more focused on outlandish ideas that can be nicely explored within the limited scope of a short story -- wouldn't-it-be-neat no
In his review of Ted Chiang’s brilliant short story collection Stories of Your Life and Others in The Guardian, China Miéville mentions the “humane intelligence [...] that makes us experience each story with immediacy and Chiang’s calm passion.” The oxymoron “calm passion” is an insightful and ingenious way to describe these stories because of the way it hints at their deft melding of the most solid of hard science fiction concepts with an often surprisingly gentle, humane touch. There’s no othe ...more
Apr 25, 2016 Fortunr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This rating is actually an average between the 5 star of the first 4 short stories ("Tower of Babylon", "Division by Zero", "Understand", ""Story of Your Life"), and the 3-star rating of the last 4 stories.

The author is a very original writer, and the type of Sf that he writes is an interesting, inventive, compelling and quirky blend of science fiction "proper" with other subject fields such as sociology, horror, philosophy and science.

Some concepts and ideas are developed in an unpredictable,
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Ted Chiang is a brilliant storyteller, and this set chronicles his first decade or so of stories, including the first story he ever wrote ("Tower of Babylon," the one that went on to win a bunch of awards.)

What I like about Chiang is that he isn't afraid to include all the science and math that made him want to explore a concept to begin with. I like knowing that the stories come from research and thinking, not just inside his head. Something in me as a reader connects to that.

My favorites:

I'd say that despite my 3 star rating (obtained by averaging the individual ratings for each story), I didn't care too much for this collection as a whole. This is the first I've read by Ted Chiang and based on these stories, his writing just isn't for me. I likely won't read anything else by him.

This collection is heavy on the science and really heavy on religious concepts. The later being something I just have very little interest in reading about. The stories I liked best didn't focus
Mike Vasich
Jan 16, 2012 Mike Vasich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The stories in this volume are certainly unique, and I appreciated the blend of science and religion. Specifically, Chiang takes on some big questions, and handles them deftly for the most part.

They reminded me much of Arthur Clarke, although Chiang's prose is different--more sparse, perhaps? Not for the uninformed reader? Clarke's sci fi felt pretty accessible, for the most part, even while he dealt with big issues like first contact, science vs religion, etc. I felt like my university educati
May 31, 2014 Rob rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No accounting for taste especially your own.
This book has had rave reviews and not from the usual sources. It has won a few well regarded awards. And I hated it.
The overall writing style I found to be flat. The characterisation was awful. Has this author ever met another human and talked to them? It has the same warmth as a IT support manual.
Quite a bit of science fiction is not exactly literary but it more than makes up for it by exploring ideas. This collection of short stories had ideas but m
Although never an out-and-out Star Trek fan, I do remember one episode which intrigued me hugely. In "Darmok" the Enterprise encounters a race of aliens, not with tentacles or two heads, but with a way of thinking, a whole cast of mind, so different from ours they seem to speak entirely in nonsense. Their captain repeats phrases like "Shaka, when the walls fell" and "Temba, his arms wide" with mounting frustration at Picard and his crew's inability to understand the obvious; meanwhile, Picard's ...more
Sep 21, 2015 Alina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A collection of exquisite stories, SF mixed with psychology and spirituality. The language is quite complex and it features many math and physics concepts, but all fairly manageable.

Tower of Babylon - 3.5*
The pursuit of absolute knowledge (view spoiler)

Understand - 4.5*
If you had immense knowledge and intelligence, would you try to help humankind evolve or just disassociate and try to satisfy all your curiosities?
It reminded me somewhat abou
Jun 23, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

"Tower of Babylon": 4 stars
"Understand": 5 stars
"Division by Zero":4 stars
"Story of Your Life": 5 stars
"Seventy-Two Letters": 4 stars
"The Evolution of Human Science": 4 stars
"Hell Is the Absence of God": 4.5 stars
"Liking What You See: A Documentary": 4.5 stars

WOW. How in the world this author is able to express and articulate the highly complex thoughts that must incessantly saturate his mind is beyond me. This guy is almost too intelligent for his own good. I would consider the possibility that
Maggie K
Sep 20, 2012 Maggie K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a thought-provoking read
I have a new book for my favorites shelf!I can't express enough how dang THOUGHT-PROVOKING these stories are. Every one of them. This was definitely a book to savor. When I finished each story, I wanted to put the book down and just think about what I had just read.

There is just a depth of intelligence here along with some quite original ideas...even the stories that brought to mind other works were a fresh take on the subject.

I truly can't recommend this enough, and am looking forward to re-rea
Apr 18, 2016 Jokoloyo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read book for Science Fiction (SF) fans. For people who don't like SF, please kindly try to read this short-story collection before commit not to read any SF story.

A pure serendipity for me. I bought this book on a closing bookshop sale, and it was my best-buy from that sale event. I admit, I had no big expectation when I put in my basket. I hadn't aware with the author and I didn't believe at that time the list of awards of the stories that included on this book.
Ramón Nogueras Pérez
May 27, 2016 Ramón Nogueras Pérez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Es poesía pura. Son relatos cortos de un autor que, que yo sepa, sólo ha escrito estos. Y es lamentable porque es tan brillante...

Un consejo: no leáis la contraportada del libro. Destripa la mitad de los relatos. No puedo contar más sin hablar de más. Simplemente: es hasta ahora el mejor libro que he leído este año. Leedlo. Regaladlo a otros para que lo lean.

Si alguien cree que la ci-fi no puede ser poesía, que lea esto y se lo haga mirar.
Znáte ten pocit, když je knížka tak epicky epická, že se prostě MUSÍTE podělit s okolním světem? Aspoň úryvky a větičky! :D

Ouuu ... Tyhle Příběhy by měl znát úplně každý. Přes to nejede vlak.

Můj spolusedící ve Žlutém busu to se mnou asi neměl jednoduché, ale jen díky mně měl alespoň zpoloviny tak dokonale úchvatnou cestu jako já! :D
I now officially have to STFU about how I don't like short stories. Because that? That was awesome.

Collection of skiffyish pieces from an author whose only serious flaw from where I'm sitting is that he doesn't write enough dammit. If there's a thread binding the set together, it's the way Chiang comes at you every time and asks, "okay, but what would the world be like if we changed this one little rule? Nothing major, you understand -- just cosmology or cause-and-effect or the existence of math
Sep 19, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like ideas
Ted Chiang is really terrific. These novellas (and one very short story) written in mock academic style like Borges (using magazine articles and fake documentary style along with essay like delivery and faux 19th century style), he takes idea like superhuman intelligence, the tower of Babel, alien language that affects the nature of time, Christian theology as a scientific fact,the industrial revolution run by golems, math as arbitrary system, nanotech that prevents you from seeing beauty; and t ...more
Apr 02, 2016 Jaro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A set of beautiful, perfect idea-stories, incessantly interesting, where somehow there is always another corner to turn when you thought every angle if an idea had been covered. Especially elegant in the conflation of science and religion.
2016 Reading Challenge: Un libro de la biblioteca

La ciencia ficción me parece de los géneros más complicados de la literatura por la complejidad que requiere una historia para ser mínimamente decente. Si a eso le sumamos la exigencia de que sean historias cortas, tenemos una tarea titánica por delante. Es muy difícil escribir un libro de relatos de ciencia ficción y que éste satisfaga al lector.

Ted Chiang cumple brillantemente con La historia de tu vida. Pese a una portada horrorosa (deberían
Apr 19, 2015 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Hard sci-fi at its highest. Chiang is an erudite and his stories thoroughly documented. Even if the vocabulary is not very accessible, the writing style is very fluent, which makes it readable and easy to comprehend its message.

Basically, all these 8 stories are about science versus spirituality.

> Tower of Babylon - testing human limits, the path to absolute knowledge which leads to an unexpected result.

> Understand - again about absolute knowledge: to be selfish about it or use it to hel
Oct 29, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved some of these stories and was lukewarm about others. What I really appreciate about the collection is that each story is unique and interesting; one way to put it is that every story has its own brand of CRAZY. If the crazy works for you, you'll enjoy the story immensely. If it doesn't, there's a wildly different concept later on that you'll like instead.

My favorite story in the book is "Tower of Babylon," which I refuse to say anything about. (Read it!) Initially, I thought "Story Of Yo
Jan 02, 2016 ErinK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection includes the story Liking What You See, which is the most amazing story I've read in at least the last five years.

Liking What You See is a written as a documentary about college students raised with technology that prevents them from seeing people as attractive or unattractive. The way they see themselves and the way they interact with people with or without the technology is believable and also fascinating. It really made me think about "look-ism" and the extent to which my own
Evan Leach
Stories of Your Life and Others contains the first eight stories written by Ted Chiang. It's a pretty extraordinary debut. The stories in this collection are:

Tower of Babylon: A twist on the story of the biblical Tower of Babel, where the builders actually manage to reach the heavens.

Division by Zero: The story of a professor of mathematics who discovers a proof that shakes her profession to its core, which causes her husband to rethink some truths of his own.

Understand: A comatose man is given
Scott (GrilledCheeseSamurai)


This was a little to spiritual for my tastes. There was a handful of stories that I got into - but, for the most part, I wasn't really all that impressed.

It made for good reading to break up some of the other stuff I was/am reading at the same time. While I love short story collections, this isn't one I feel particularly inclined to recommend.

Not bad - just not all that great.

2.5 stars rounded up to a 3.
Aki Tman
Apr 21, 2016 Aki Tman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's be honest for a moment, 5 stars is simply not enough. This book redefined the short story for me. I've never read a collection of such consistent quality, the mind boggles, and your mind will truly boggle when you read this book.

I had to read this one with a dictionary, wikipedia and encarta open and ready to go. Never before have I read science-fiction so thoroughly rooted in logic, the leaps are sometimes great but not inconceivable but the writing is always profound and accessible.

The s
J. Montero
Hace unas semanas dije que dejaba de poner estrellitas y, a cambio, me comprometía a hacer una breve reseña de los libros que más me interesaran. Es el caso de "La historia de tu vida". La antología de relatos de Chiang cuenta con uno de los que más me ha impresionado en la vida (el que da nombre a la recopilación), tanto por la historia como por la forma, el ritmo, la manipulación del tiempo, el arco del personaje... ¡Todo, vamos!
Sin entrar en detalle en cada relato, diré que el autor consigue
Juan Raffo
Mar 14, 2015 Juan Raffo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Llegué a la ciencia ficción y a la fantasía porque me encantaban las naves espaciales, las pistolas de rayos y las aventuras con muchas batallas.

Pero uno se hace grande, viejo, aburrido y adicto a que los buenos escritores de ciencia ficción y fantasía cojan una idea y la estiren hasta ver a donde llega, la estrujen, la rompan y le den la vuelta como una media y de esta manera te obliguen a pensar y a usar esas neuronas para que no se atrofien.

Y Ted Chiang hace eso.

Una droga que te impide ver la
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Ted Chiang (born 1967) is an American speculative fiction writer. His Chinese name is Chiang Feng-nan. He was born in Port Jefferson, New York and graduated from Brown University with a Computer Science degree. He currently works as a technical writer in the software industry and resides in Bellevue, near Seattle, Washington. He is a graduate of the noted Clarion Writers Workshop (1989).

Although n
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“I understand the mechanism of my own thinking. I know precisely how I know, and my understanding is recursive. I understand the infinite regress of this self-knowing, not by proceeding step by step endlessly, but by apprehending the limit. The nature of recursive cognition is clear to me. A new meaning of the term "self-aware."

Fiat logos. I know my mind in terms of a language more expressive than any I'd previously imagined. Like God creating order from chaos with an utterance, I make myself anew with this language. It is meta-self-descriptive and self-editing; not only can it describe thought, it can describe and modify its own operations as well, at all levels. What Gödel would have given to see this language, where modifying a statement causes the entire grammar to be adjusted.

With this language, I can see how my mind is operating. I don't pretend to see my own neurons firing; such claims belong to John Lilly and his LSD experiments of the sixties. What I can do is perceive the gestalts; I see the mental structures forming, interacting. I see myself thinking, and I see the equations that describe my thinking, and I see myself comprehending the equations, and I see how the equations describe their being comprehended.

I know how they make up my thoughts.

These thoughts.”
“At the base of the immense pillar, tiny Babylon was in shadow. Then the darkness climbed the tower, like a canopy unfurling upward. It moved slowly enough that Hillalum felt he could count the moments passing, but then it grew faster as it approached, until it raced past them faster than he could blink, and they were in twilight... For the first time, he knew night for what it was: the shadow of the earth itself, cast against the sky.” 9 likes
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