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Stories of Your Life and Others

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  4,531 ratings  ·  632 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"
"Understand"
"S...more
ebook, 281 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Small Beer Press (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Eh?Eh!
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...more
Simeon
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..."




Un...more
Joel
Jan 07, 2011 Joel rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: totes
Recommended to Joel 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...more
Stephen
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
Stefan
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
Apatt
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
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:

"Unde...more
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...more
Lightreads
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...more
Carol

"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...more
Rob
Review
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...more
ErinK
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...more
Adam
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
Ctgt
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...more
Hirondelle
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...more
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...more
Rob
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...more
Emily
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...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...more
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...more
AC
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.
Random
As with all short story collections, you're bound to enjoy some more than others. My favorites, which I consider to be 5(+) star reads, are Tower of Babylon, Story of Your Life, Seventy-Two Letters, and Hell is the Absence of God.

I did find one of the main character's reaction in Divide by Zero to be annoying enough to detract from what was otherwise a fascinating concept.

Even though, these are all excellent examples of why I love science fiction so much. Not only is there a lot of imagination,...more
Sergsab
Sufre el síndrome de la colección de cuentos. Cuentos absolutamente maravillosos y otros que no están a la altura comparativamente hablando. Es lo único que me hace no darle una quinta estrella, pero de forma aislada hay cuentos que incluso se merecen seis.

Concretamente "La Historia de tu Vida" y "¿Te gusta lo que ves?" son absolutamente obras maestras de la ficción especulativa.

En toda la obra de Chiang, podemos encontrar una preocupación social, un interés marcado en las consecuencias humanas...more
Nicole
4.5 stars. Overall I thought the short stories and novelettes in this collection were excellent. As with any collection, some of the stories were stronger than others, with the title story being my favorite. I did feel the second half of the book was weaker, but still a highly recommended read for those interested in SFF short stories.
Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)
Aug 18, 2014 Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) by: Michele
Shelves: sf, anthology
I'm so not a fan of short stories, that I have to have somebody shove them down my throat.

In this case it was Michele, who grabbed me by the (figurative) lapel and shouted "YOU HAVE TO READ THIS! NOW!!"

OK, Michele. I've read it! It was pretty darn good too.

All of the stories are thought-provoking, from the opening Tower of Babylon which is a simple, fun, fantasy, or Exhalation in which a race of undying pneumatic-powered robots are faced with entropy; to the title story, in which a linguist fi
...more
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.
Juan
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.



Olethros
-Suave intensidad.-

Género. Relatos.

Lo que nos cuenta. Recopilación de ocho relatos del poco prolífico y sin embargo multipremiado autor, escritos entre 1990 y 2002, y que desde premisas de Ciencia-Ficción libre (que entra y sale de la Narrativa Fantástica a voluntad, resumiendo) toca temas tan variados como la influencia del aspecto en nuestras impresiones sobre los demás y cómo podría afectar un cambio radical a ese respecto, un contacto con extraterrestres cuyo lenguaje es totalmente diferente...more
Tyler Lutz
What a great collection of stories. Very thought provoking and interesting concepts, including angels as natural disasters, the nature of heaven and earth as a cyclic world, drugs that enhance intelligence and understanding, alien language that can tell the future, and how we view beauty and what if we censored it. Very cool stuff.

Stephen Richter
I am not a reader of short stories as a rule. I have tried but deep down I like the pace of a novel. Not that I did not enjoy the challenge of reading a form of fiction I am not fond of by an author I am unfamiliar with, but Ted Chiang's stories did not clear those hurdles as a whole. I liked the Old Testament vibe stories more than the Mathematical vibe stories, liked the story "Story of Your Life " but I am not sure I got "why " of it? I liked the start of "Liking What You See " but it went a...more
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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...more
More about Ted Chiang...
The Lifecycle of Software Objects The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate Exhalation Hell is the Absence of God The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling

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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.”
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“It is a misconception to think that during evolution humans sacrificed physical skill in exchange for intelligence: wielding one's body is a mental activity.” 6 likes
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