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Stories of Your Life and Others

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  34,838 Ratings  ·  4,767 Reviews
Ted Chiang's first published story, "Tower of Babylon," won the Nebula Award in 1990. Subsequent stories have won the Asimov's SF Magazine reader poll, a second Nebula Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, and the Sidewise Award for alternate history. He won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992. Story for story, he is the most honored young writer
ebook, 281 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Small Beer Press (first published July 2002)
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Susan Oliver Try approaching the story and the movie without thinking of it as an "alien first contact" plot, and more as an examination of the human capacity for…moreTry approaching the story and the movie without thinking of it as an "alien first contact" plot, and more as an examination of the human capacity for love.

I think a good place to start might be with the question the narrator, Dr. Louise Banks, poses right at the start: "If you knew the future, would you change anything?"(less)

Community Reviews

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Reading is nothing; comprehension is everything”.
Sarah Richards

I read the title short story while away at a conference for technical writers. The quote above came from a presentation about transforming the Government Digital Service, but the issues of communication (context and audience) that are at the heart of this story are key to technical writing and had echoes in many of the presentations. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Ted Chiang is also a technical writer.

Note: This review is just t
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Update: Saturday the 12th, November 2016

I just watched the movie The Arrival and OMG it was amazing. :) :) :)
I cried. Like, a lot. I had chills and sat on the edge of my seat and I was totally engaged.
What's worse? The personal aspects of the movie just blew me away. And even worse? The mental ones were profound and beautiful and amazing. :) I AM SQUEEEING!!!!

Now here's the big question: Am I a fanboy because the movie only improved my appreciation of the original story? Or am I just blown away
Kevin Kelsey
Posted at Heradas

Ted Chiang’s name continually comes up in lists of great short stories. He’s never written a novel, but his short fiction has won nearly every SF award that exists. 4 Nebulas, 4 Hugos, John W. Campbell, Locus, and on and on. He’s greatly admired among authors and almost entirely unknown by most readers. I’ve heard him referenced as an inspiration by several authors that I enjoy reading. Specifically Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (who collectively write the Expanse series under th
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
I don't read very many short stories collection but after this one I feel like I now need to.

This one contains the most mind bending and original sci-fi stories I've read in a while.

My favorite what the last one!
Apr 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, sci-fi
"Interfering Gremlin of GR" Alert!
This review was originally of the anthology Stories of Your Life and Others, then recently I wrote a separate review for the individual story "Story of Your Life". Today I woke up to find GR have merged the two reviews. WTF? Now it looks super long-winded! OK, I'd better reorganize this review a bit.
fancy line

Review of the novella "Story of Your Life"

Story of Your Life is one of Ted Chiang’s best stories. Ted Chiang is one of the greatest sci-fi short stories writers ever
Ted Chiang is a technical writer in the software industry (as many of the best people are). He occasionally publishes short stories, a remarkably high proportion of which have won major sci-fi awards, including 4 Nebulas and 4 Hugos for only 15 works.

That indicates the quality of what’s within these pages, but may mislead about the genre, content, and style. Some are set in the far past, and the only aliens and space-faring are in the title story, though there is futuristic technology in most. S
Nov 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sf
3.5* for the 4 stories I read

I am not the number 1 expert or fan of short stories so please take my review with a grain of salt. This is the first SF anthology that I read so I am basically a newbie in this genre. I will review 2-3 stories at the time as I am going through other books at the same time and I would not want to forget what I read.

Tower of Babylon 2.5*
As synopsis the story is about people in the Old Testament reality which are building a tower to heaven and a surprise waits when t
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
Joe Valdez
My introduction to the fiction of American author Ted Chiang comes with Stories of Your Life and Others, a 2002 collection of eight hard science fiction short stories published over the previous twelve years. My anticipation was to dust off one tale in particular, "Story of Your Life", the source material for a movie titled Arrival starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner that opens in the U.S. two months from the time I'm posting this book report. I dove into the collection due to Chiang's gift for ...more
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dok ne sročim nešto o ovoj kolekciji priča, evo mojih ocena:

Vavilonska kula - 4
Shvati - 4
Deljenje nulom - 3
Priča tvog života - 5
Sedamdeset dva slova - 5
Razvoj ljudske nauke - 3
Pakao je odsustvo Boga - 5
Voleti ono što vidiš: Dokumentarac - 4

Dakle, prosečna ocena za celu zbirku je: 4,125

Ove tri priče koje su dobile peticu su baš baš baš odlične!!!
Stories of Your Life and Others is a very interesting collection of stories. I think you really need to be into the “Sci” part of Sci-fi to truly enjoy them; they are thick with scientific terminology and theorems. For me, that reduced my enjoyment of a few of the stories while others had the perfect balance for me.

My favorites were Tower of Babylon, Hell is the Absence of God, and Liking What You See: A Documentary. One story (The Evolution of Human Science) was only 3 pages and, therefore, too
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review once I'm home. For now, let's just say that the final story got me into trouble with some people at the train station. *lol*
Now that I've had some time to reflect on all the stories I've listened to in this collection, I can honestly say that not one was bad. Sure, three were rather mediocre, but the others were either at least good or even so exceptional that they made up for the mediocre ones without much effort.

There are 8 short stories in this book:
1) Tower of Babylon
2) Understand
Montzalee Wittmann
Arrival by Ted Chiang is an ebook I picked up from the library because everyone was talking about the movie and I wanted to watch it but I like to read the books before seeing the movies, I have a thing about that. I didn't know this was a book of short stories. Again, I have a thing about not reading blurbs if I can help it in books I have already. (If I am looking for a book, that is different.) This book is not a novel but a lot of short stories. Each one is drastically different and each mak ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
[UPDATED] This collection of short stories was quite insightful. There are seven stories here:

Tower of Babylon was probably my favorite. It is based on the Biblical story but with great twists and insights about human pretentious at higher knowledge and how the universe conspires silently to confound them.
Understand was an interesting one, but for me ended kind of abruptly. The idea of augmented intelligence was addressed famously (and better IMHO) in Keyes' Flowers for Algernon, but still this
Nov 16, 2010 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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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 (too often tedious & unsolved puzzleboxes). 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 ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosophical readers, Black Mirror fans
I opted to read Ted Chiang's award-winning/nominated short stories right after watching Arrival. What I read marveled me with eight unique tales that challenge the norms and tackle big ideas about humanity, religion, and science.

The compilation began with the "Tower of Babylon," a familiar biblical myth set in an alternate Mesopotamia where a tower was built so high it reached the vault of heaven. In "Understand," an experimental drug gives the protagonist omniscient intelligence similar to the
May 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
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 an 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
Manuel Antão
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, favorites
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Coding Languages vs. Natural Languages: “Story of Your Life and Others” by Ted Chiang

Are you familiar with the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis? Back in the day when I was in college I remember writing a paper on applying this language paradigm to coding. It was so long ago I don’t really remember what I wrote, but I still remember agreeing with the fact that coding could also be a fitting subject to the Sapir-Whorf wisdom… Thinking it over once
Rachel (Kalanadi)
I have a very emotional personal connection to this short story collection. It’s intense enough inside my head and unique to my experience, so that even talking about this feels like baring an uncomfortably sensitive part of one’s flesh… It’s like crying in public because you can’t stop, and hoping nobody laughs at you for being soppy when you are, in fact, grieving.

I first read Stories of Your Life and Others in 2014, and I finished it the day before I had surgery. This was a very intense time
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
If it were not for the recently released movie entitled Arrival, my faith in the appeal of sci-fi writing would still be agnostic at best. But today? Baby, I'm a believer!

NO SPOILERS Ted Chiang is the man. Brilliant science, mind bending math, psychological intrigue, and love are melded in his work. Im embarrassed to not only have not read anything by him before but not to have ever even heard his name! Yeah - time to break out of my comfortable genres and find beauty in other places.

So, have y
Leonard Gaya
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ted Chiang is a very parsimonious, yet many times awarded author. This collection of eight short stories, published in periodicals in the 1990’s, has been republished recently upon the release of the motion picture Arrival (which I have yet to see), adapted from one of these stories.

These tales build up on very simple ideas: What if the Tower of Babel was actually reaching the vault of the sky? What if there existed a drug that bestowed superhuman cognitive abilities? What if mathematics were pr
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Većina ovih priča može se pročitati na internetu, linkovi su na službenoj wikipedija stranici o autoru. U hrvatskom se prijevodu može naći jedino naslovna i to u Siriusu broj 22, dok je na srpski jezik nedavno prevedena cijela kolekcija. O većini ovih priča već sam pisao - linkovi na osvrte su u naslovima pojedinih priča.

Tower of Babylon - ova bi bila mlak početak da nisam prvo pročitao Story of Your Life. Na priču ga je inspirirao prijatelj koji mu je ispričao židovsku verziju mita o Babilons
Oct 23, 2010 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
Brian Yahn
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
We think of the world in terms of cause and effect, but in theory we could see things in terms of their purpose. Ted Chiang introduces an alien civilization in a pretty mysterious way that feels a little similar to Sphere by Michael Crichton.

It appears these aliens are acting to maximize the purpose of the universe, to make it come to the most beautiful end it possibly could. And the story kind of makes you feel like you're a part of it. It's pretty awesome.
Stories of Your Life and Others: Sadly I couldn’t connect with these stories
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
This is one of books that receives such universal praise and accolades from readers, critics, and award committees that it represents a real risk for a book reviewer. After all, if you love the book, you’re merely contributing to the overwhelming chorus of praise and not really adding much to the discussion, but at least you are “on the same page” as everyone. The alternative is m
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-now
Πως γίνεται ένας σημαντικός συγγραφέας της λογοτεχνίας να λογίζεται σαν τέτοιος γράφοντας απλά, στα 27 χρόνια της πορείας του μέχρι σήμερα, να έχει γράψει μόνο 14 διηγήματα και 1 νουβέλα; Αμ έλα που γίνεται.

Ο Ted Chiang ενδιαφέρεται για την ανθρώπινη κατάσταση και την ανθρώπινη εμπειρία, για τη γλώσσα, για τους φυσικούς νόμους. Στρίβει το πλαίσιο του είδους της επιστημονικής φαντασίας και φέρνει τα μέσα έξω, για να δοκιμάσει πάνω μας με αυτόν τον τρόπο [πειράζοντας δηλαδή τις προσδοκίες μας από
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:

Jan 13, 2009 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.
Kristal Kitap
Vee bitti. Çok sevdim, çok sevdim. Özellikle "Anlamak" hikayesine bayıldım. Keşke filmi çekilse! Her şey algı kapasitemiz dahilinde olsa ne olurdu? "Her şeyi çözümleyebilsek; evrendeki her varlığın, en ufak noktacığın bile başka bir etmenle bağlantısı olduğunu anlayabilsek; beynimizin bile nasıl çalıştığını görebilsek, nasıl olurdu?" sorusunun bir cevabıydı sanki.

Öyle çok aman aman Bilim Kurgu okuyucusu değilim belki de ondan böylesi bi haz aldım Geliş'ten bilemiyorum. Kısa kısa hikayeler içimd
Jun 10, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Τον Τσιάνγκ και τούτο το βιβλίο του το έμαθα, αν θυμάμαι καλά, μέσω του Κεν Λιου, ο οποίος με είχε καταπλήξει με το The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. Ο Λιου είναι προασπιστής της Κινέζικης Ε.Φ. και πρέπει κάπου να είχε πλέξει το εγκώμιο του Τσιανγκ. Επιπλέον, η φερώνυμη ιστορία, "Η Ιστορία της Ζωή σου", αποτέλεσε τον πυρήνα του φετινού Ε.Φ. κινηματογραφικού χιτ Arrival. Οι προσδοκίες μου ήταν ψηλές, λοιπόν. Τόσο ψηλές που, σε μια απρόβλεπτη κίνηση, εξέπληξα τον ίδιο μου τον εαυτό, και αγόρα ...more
Nicole (Read Eat Sleep Repeat)
This collection of short stories is, quite simply, brilliant.

I discovered this book after seeing the movie Arrival, which blew my mind and sent me into a tizzy of internet stalking when I found out it was based on a short story called Story of Your Life. Upon starting to read the book, I began to realize there was so much more to this author and his work. Each story is unique in plot, tone, and style as they explore humanity through a variety of lenses and angles.

Chiang really has a way with wor
Michelle Morrell
This was originally printed as "Story of Your Life and Other Stories," this copy was the movie tie-in for "Arrival" though.

A collection of gorgeous, smart, and quiet stories. It came into my awareness because of the movie, so I'll start there. The adaptation to film was very well done, it really captured the tone of the story, of the whole collection. Thoughtful, intelligent, musing. The kind of stories where you put the book down and just think.

"Story of Your Life" has to do with an alien fir
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now I will admit that this book has caused me some confusion - The book I have is titled Arrival and looks like the one above - so you think the ISBN is correct however it appears that it also goes under the name of Stories of your life and others and was in fact retitled to coincide with the film of said title.

Now normally I do not mind these things but it does make me a little sceptical as I have been caught out in the past - the worst of all was with the works of Michael Cordy. Anyway I digr
Βαθμολογία: ★★★

Ο Ted Chiang έχει όντως τρομερή φαντασία. Οι ιδέες του για όλα τα διηγήματα είναι πανέξυπνες. Το πρόβλημα βρίσκεται στην απόλαυση αυτών των ιστοριών. Οι πρώτες μου φάνηκαν καταπληκτικές, γεμάτες αγωνία να μάθω τη συνέχεια. Μετά με έχασε, με έκανε ακόμη και να αφήσω το βιβλίο στην άκρη. Νομίζω τα 3* είναι μια καλή μέση βαθμολογία. Ξεχώρισα τρία αγαπημένα: «Ο πύργος της Βαβυλώνας»,«Κατάλαβε»,«Σ' αρέσει αυτό που βλέπεις;»
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ted Chiang puts the SCIENCE in science fiction.

These stories are not for everyone; Chiang is 40 percent science, 40 percent philosophy, and 20 percent "story" a good portion of the time. Other times, he's all heart.

This collection was akin to enjoying a box of Godivas: quality, and to be savored and examined, perhaps even with the help of a cheat sheet:

Tower of Babylon: The first story in the collection, this immediately piqued my interest, and didn't disappoint: The tower of Babylon reaches th
Stevie Kincade
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, audiobooks
Can I just say holy hot goddamn is Arrival an awesome movie! I always feel massively let down by SF movies as the 90 minute format with explosions and lasers rarely leaves room for the big concepts and character development I love in the written form. The last spectacular SF movie was...Cloud Atlas I think? So I will say this a top 2 SF movie of the last 10 years. This is a MUST SEE if you love good SF and if you haven't read the book first - don't! I normally always want to read the book first ...more
Caro M.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: s-f, 2018-reads
There is this thing about the flu that I absolutely hate. Once you're completely sick you suddenly get all the free time in the world and you could use it for reading, but since your head is throbbing with ache and fever and your eyes are burning (and I won't even mention other bodily horrors that are going on) a zero reading can be done, alas. Same goes for writing reviews. Sorry for the digression. I just had to cry on some virtual shoulder.

I liked this collection of stories, although I can't
The story "The Story of Your Life" itself is exquisite, a minor miracle of imagination and discipline. Pure Genius.

Clearly, the publisher's have put the four worthwhile stories first, followed by the very dull and irritating remainder.

• Tower of Babylon - 3/5
The myth of the tower realised wonderfully, with a nice twist.

• Understand - 3/5
A brain repair medication increases intelligence. The subject acquires more drug, and we watch as he becomes ever smarter. Just following the steps of the story
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
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
The pursuit of absolute knowledge (view spoiler)

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 about Flower
Brendon Schrodinger
Hands up who enjoyed 'The Arrival'. It was brilliant. I knew of it's source material before being relleased and I usually try to read something before watching it (it's the best way), but i have a not so great history with short stories. I don't know why, I just can't get into them. They're forgettable. I'm slow. I need time to live with characters and situations. It's probabl why I don't actively watch movies too. I prefer the longer form of TV series.

Anyway, this book turned this opinion aroun
Matthew Quann
Here’s what I thought of each story collected in Ted Chaing's Stories of Your Life and Others

Tower of Babylon
Score: 5/5
This is sort-of sci-fi written from the perspective of a world of myth or limited cosmological understanding. Up the Tower of Babylon, that literally reaches to the vault of heaven, crawls a team of miners who try and break through a stone sky to heaven. A fine way to start the collection, and the ending left my brain doing geometrical calisthenics.

Score: 5/5
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A pretty good collection of short stories that certainly has its moments. Let's take a look.

Tower of Babylon: ***
The collection kicks off with a story that managed to keep my interest at high levels until the end which, however, I didn't find as satisfactory as I would have liked. A quite original concept nonetheless.
Understand: ****
This one was one of the best. Great pace and storytelling that had me at the edge of my seat for most of the time. Looks like the film Limitless was based on this
This was a fantastic collection of short-stories that did a wonderful job of exploring different ways of viewing the world for humans. Each story took some simple conceit, such as literally being able to see soul descend and then reside in "hell" or a tower of Babylon that actually makes it to the top of the sky, and explored that world and all its many wrinkles and consequences. They were all vastly different in tone, style, and conceit providing a very diverse set of stories and each felt fres ...more
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Ted Chiang is an American speculative fiction writer. His Chinese name is Chiang Feng-nan. He 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 not a prolific author, having published only eleven sh

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“My message to you is this: pretend that you have free will. It's essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know they don't. The reality isn't important: what's important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.” 35 likes
“Freedom isn't an illusion; it's perfectly real in the context of sequential consciousness. Within the context of simultaneous consciousness, freedom is not meaningful, but neither is coercion; it's simply a different context, no more or less valid than the other. It's like that famous optical illusion, the drawing of either an elegant young woman, face turned away from the viewer, or a wart-nosed crone, chin tucked down on her chest. There's no “correct” interpretation; both are equally valid. But you can't see both at the same time.

“Similarly, knowledge of the future was incompatible with free will. What made it possible for me to exercise freedom of choice also made it impossible for me to know the future. Conversely, now that I know the future, I would never act contrary to that future, including telling others what I know: those who know the future don't talk about it. Those who've read the Book of Ages never admit to it.”
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