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Stories of Your Life and Others

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  6,624 ratings  ·  853 reviews
Here are eight astonishing science-fiction stories that explore the boundaries between science and religion, between determinism and our ability to choose, between words and the entities they describe. Here are stories of conceptual breakthrough ... of making sense of the universe and our place in it.

Contains the stories:
"Tower of Babylon"
"Division by Zero"
ebook, 281 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Small Beer Press (first published January 1st 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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..."

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
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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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:

Mike Vasich
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
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
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
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
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

"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 5 of 5 stars
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
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 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
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
Sep 19, 2007 Adam rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
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
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
This is why I love sf, and this is why I love short stories.

Probably the most concentrated exclusively made of awesome collection of sf short stories ever published. Or that i had the luck of reading yet. And in an age where sf seems dead, where short stories seems dead, here these are as good, or better, than any sf short stories yet ( you can separate the categories, and it will still be valid).

When published had the advantage that is collected *everything*, apart I think from the Science, or
Ramón Pérez
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.
Impresionante recopilación de relatos de Ted Chiang.

La verdad es que no sabría decir cual me ha parecido mejor. Pero, por destacar algunos, me quedaría con "Story of Your Life", "Liking What You See: A Documentary" y "Hell is the Absence of God". O también "Tower of Babel" y "Division by Zero"...Vamos, que me quedaría con todos.

Una lectura imprescindible para los amantes de la ciencia ficción.

Juan Raffo
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
I was only peripherally aware of Chiang until I read The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling for the Hugo awards this year(it got my vote for best novelette). So when S&L picked this collection for a monthly read, I jumped at the opportunity to read some more of his stories.

In my younger years, I was not a huge fan of short stories. I was constantly looking for more explanation or in depth world building or characterization. Obviously, those needs did not fit well with the short. As I starte
Daniel Roy
Ted Chiang is exactly the kind of SF author I love: much like my other favorites, Robert Charles Wilson and James Patrick Kelley, Chiang uses his short fiction to blend profound human stories with hard SF concepts. The result, as demonstrated by this story anthology, are thought-provoking, moving stories.

A lot of reviewers of 'Stories of your Life' have implied that Chiang's style is a radical departure from the typical SF short story. I disagree. They're great examples of what the SF short stor
What's there to say about Chiang that all the others don't say? He is the closest thing to a modern Jorge Luis Borges in melding high concepts with literature to create something better than either; in some respects, I'd rank his best short stories as better than Gene Wolfe's. His writing is deceptively excellent: I would call him a writer's writer, because the flat evenness of his prose may strike a reader as boring unless they have tried to write as clearly themselves and failed abysmally, at ...more
Some really brilliant stories here. And I say that as someone who hates, hates SF and who also has a lot of trouble reading short stories. 72 letters did not appeal to me, as I don't like archaism in writing, and the final story is not entirely successful. But the rest were fabulous. A little bit of Borges in Chiang, and a sense that he is always true to himself. And very smart, of course.
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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.” 7 likes
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