Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Story of Your Life” as Want to Read:
Story of Your Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Story of Your Life

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,234 Ratings  ·  273 Reviews
Dr. Louise Banks is enlisted by the military to communicate with a race of aliens, after they initiate first contact with humanity. The story revolves around Banks, woven through with remembrances of her daughter.

This short story is the basis for the 2016 feature film Arrival.
ebook, short story, 44 pages
Published November 1998
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Story of Your Life, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Amelia Volkova The movie has some minor changes,but is largely based on it and the story they filmed is more than the book tells us. Also,they made the alphabet for…moreThe movie has some minor changes,but is largely based on it and the story they filmed is more than the book tells us. Also,they made the alphabet for heptapods that was described in the story. Read first or watch first,doesn't matter,you need to do both,because they complete eachother(less)
Kinch I thought I had an answer for you, but then I started second guessing myself, and now my mind is wrapped in a tight knot and I need to lie down.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone

"God, of course I know that. Do you think I'm an idiot?"

"No, of course not."

What I'll think is that you are clearly, maddeningly not me. It will remind me, again, that you won't be a clone of me; you can be wonderful, a daily delight, but you won't be someone I could have created by myself."

This is a brilliant short story. Basically the plot is (view spoiler)
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Yes, I admit I read this because of the movie Arrival.

Different from everything else I've read. In all the senses of the word.

The movie is very faithful to the written story, yet there are a few differences.

For once, in the book it's never told why aliens come, why they are here.

The written story focuses on grammar, on differences and similarities with these beings who came from outer space, on the use of 'will', as the 'will' in future sense, and the 'will' in freewill and fate.

The Book of Ages
Mark Hebwood
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is part of my review of Ted's collection of stories "Stories of Your Life and Others". If you have not read the story yet, be warned that it contains spoilers!

Stories of Your Life and Others

Not all it could have been

Well. What a fantastic story this could have been. It is the title story in Ted's collection of shorts, and I have to confess I was terribly disappointed when I got to the end. All through the story I thought I knew what was going on here, and I was waiting for Ted to reveal the
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unlike the disappointing film 'Arrival', this short story is freshly thought-provoking. There are moments in the movie that were neat, but far too little importance was placed on the mesmerizing philosophy that is embodied in language.

Aliens have a completely different way of experiencing our universe than we do, but it is just as valid and perhaps less restraining. For us, action is about creating a chronology of events guided by our free will. Whereas they use action as a way to actualize even
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Re-read September 2017


This short is so well done, written and transmits that much... it's sci-Fi but it's not just sci-Fi, it's a story that goes directly to your heart and makes you wonder, what would I do if I was her?
I'm sure I'm not strong enough to accept some things and I can't tell anything here since every word I'd said would be a huge spoiler but this is a highly recommend read for science fiction's lovers and it has a strong, smart heroine whose behavior is admirable. And t
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is about us

"Yes , That's her". I'll say . "She is mine"

Story of your life was published in 1998. The story's slow build and heady subject make this best for inquisitive teens and elders , Chiang's immense scientific knowledge enabled him to create convincing hard sci-fi. The action is led by a woman, Dr Louisa Bank, she is recruited by the military to help them communicate with the aliens when twelve alien spaceships land in various locations all around the earth, Dr Gary Donnelly , a
Jerry Jose
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I wish I had more stars to give and more pages to read.

Honestly this review covers only the eponymous story and I read it after watching first trailer of 'Arrival'. Expected something of Contact sort, never in my head crossed what it really was during the speculative process of determining what it could be. The writings of a mom to her daughter, those wore some of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I found myself standing in train absorbed in the copy, n
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a looong short story, or novella, but I wanted to read it so much I bought the entire book. (It's in a collection of stories by Ted Chiang.)

The story which the movie, 'Arrival', was based on, this is a complex tale including linguistics, physics, psychology and why we do what we do - or maybe, what we think when we do what we do.

(view spoiler)
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
( 3.7 STARS )

This offered something different to what the movie did and I both liked and disliked that. I felt as though this story was overly ambiguous and scientific, and if I hadn't seen the movie I would probably not get what's going on or what the 'point' is. Everything was very calm despite the fact that earth had been invaded by aliens and that completely changed the tone of the book compared to that of the movie. One thing I did really like though were the paragraphs about Louise and her
Sudeep Agarwal
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a scifi fan, I felt that the Arrival movie left a lot of questions unanswered. Specifically, free will when you're "unstuck" in time (to borrow Vonnegut's terminology from Slaughterhouse-five). A lot of my questions were answered in this story. For a change, I recommend watching the movie first, thinking about it, and then reading the story and thinking about it more. It can be very hard to grasp this concept, and I'm still not sure of how a species with this kind of consciousness would think ...more
Faiza Sattar
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
"Those who know the future don't talk about it."

I was introduced to Ted Chiang’s brilliant writings after having watched the movie “Arrival”. The movie is loosely based on his short story “Story of Your Life”, an enigmatic title in itself given the plot. Usage of the word “Your” in the title is multifarious, as it could refer to the reader’s life from the narrator’s perspective, or within context of the story, the “Your” represents a mother’s relationship with her daughter. Integrating hard scie
I am loving this author's writing style. This is another short story out of the book "Stories of Your Life and Others, and I have to say this one is my favorite so far.

The story was about aliens visiting the earth, and a woman who tries to learn their language, most especially their written language which is a complex, woven, overlapping, written semantic language. That is where the story starts getting interesting, as the reader realizes that we are also going on a language journey, where the
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This is a pretty awesome story.

When aliens come to earth, linguist Louise Banks is asked to join a team of researchers to decipher their language. But as she deciphers their language, the way she perceives the world around her changes too.

This story asks, In what ways can language shape cognitive functions? It explores other questions too, but I don't want to give any spoilers. I took a linguistics class in college where we discussed this question, but I love the exploration of it in this s
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm so glad Arrival exists because if it weren't for the movie I probably wouldn't have discovered Ted Chiang's works and both the movie and his short stories are a-ma-zing. I just love how Ted doesn't dumb anything down for readers and that's such a rare thing nowadays, like, honestly :c
The story itself is so great and the writing is so clever and creative, I am beyond satisfied. Awesome, just awesome.
Dare I say the movie is better? It is.
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Got this in anticipation of the Arrival movie. It's by far the best sci-fi short story I've ever read. Its science core consists of 2 or 3 theories which were clearly explained and easily understood, but when combined and put in a special context, they created an incredible and moving story. I'm also impressed by Ted Chiang's attention to details. After finishing the book and figuring out what it's all about, I find many small things in the story which at first seemed insignificant but actually ...more
Jigar Brahmbhatt
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like how Ted Chiang's mind works. He takes an idea and exhausts it inside out. The carefully detailed plots work because they absolutely play games with your notion of reality. No wonder he takes a long time coming up with a story, around an year or so. I will eagerly look forward to his work.
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was ok

Quizás si lo hubiera leído por separado el efecto hubiese sido mejor.
La narradora es una mujer hablándole a su hija, así que el relato es por momentos en segunda persona y se siente como si nos hablara a nosotros. La originalidad de esta historia es que las cosas que le cuenta a su hija son recuerdos de ambas, es decir que los cuenta en pasado, pero al mismo tiempo le dice en qué momento de su vida va les va pasar todo eso, como si no hubieran ocurrido aún. Algo así como "recuerdos del futur
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Quite often a meaningful story will have unveiled a structure in your brain - something you have known or were getting at, but didn't had the words for. From time to time, a story like this will even push you to create a structure of your own, something unique. Тhat thing, however, would still have been conceived by a familiar idea, it could be traced back to that spark of inspiration. That traceability also outlines structures, though.

Going through 'Story of Your Life' brought so much delight t
Jacques Bezuidenhout
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read as part of Stories of Your Life and Others.

This is the short story that the movie Arrival was based on.

Although you know it is loosely the same story when reading the short, after watching the movie, they are quite different.

In the book there is quite a blur between what is past, present and future. And everything seems to have a double meaning. There is quite a bit left to thought, which I didn't quite get from the movie.

I'm starting to pick up quite a strong thread off linguistics and sci
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I got to reading this because of the hype around the upcoming movie Arrival, which is based on this story. It's a 33 page short story that left me stunned by the time I finished reading it.

It's a science fiction story which starts with aliens visiting the earth and Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist, is called upon by the U.S military to try and understand the aliens' language. What Louise uncovers, about the aliens and about herself, is something that will take you by surprise.

Super short read. It's
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
this short story is a great journey especially in a rainy day.
how would you try to understand a spieces that has nothing in common with you in the way of consciousness? how could an alien language look like? is it a sequence of subjects and actions, or is it just an mere idea of how things mean? how does language shape the way you think? and some other questions of this kind.
while it didnt go as further into linguistics as i expected, it did prove the importance of imagination in fiction writin
Viktor Malafey
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Книга, на основі якої зробили кіно Arrival.
Чим цей твір відрізняється від фільму можна переглянути тут:

Книга мені сподобалась. Це історія про те, як людина через аналіз чужої мови починає сприймати свій світ по-іншому. Бачити картинку не спочатку до кінця, а відразу всю.
Саме через це впродовж всього твору нам не хронологічно розказують про відносини головної героїні і її дитини.
Не погана наукова фантастика.
Hamam Alhar
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The rate of revelation in this story is the king, or perhaps queen.
I started reading this after watching the movie, and although the movie has been expanded from this, it didn't disappoint me. Instead it gave me a better understanding of what was happening.
The writer's perception of another worldview, and use of 'time', wow!
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i loved this so much, it was so exciting and intense and kept me hooked the entire way. it inspired me to immediately go out and buy Ted Chiang's book to savour later. he's described as a "speculative fiction" author and I love that so much, that's exactly what it is. this got me so excited and in love with linguistics.
Mélanie D.
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arrival has become one of my favourite movies of all times and I was curious to read the source material, of course. It was great, but I'll say that I really like what they changed in the movie.
Gediminas Kontrimas
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ted Chiang - malonus atradimas. Pažiūrėjęs pagal jo parašytą scenarijų ir pasakojimą "Story of your life" sukurtą "Arrival", nutariau perskaityti ir pirminį viso to reikalo šaltinį. Kaip nedažnai būna, filmas ir literatūros kūrinys pasirodė besantys vienodai stiprūs.
Jorge Yau
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
No he podido ir a ver Arrival así que me leí el short story, está bueno.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Short story in Stories of your life and others

Note: Spoilers for book and movie

I watched the movie (Arrival) before doing this short story and I think it influenced my appreciation for this. The core idea is clever, but just as in the movie, there's no real attempt at an explanation as to why the alien written language let's people intelligent beings experience the future. Another fundamental idea brought up in the book that if you could see the future, you wouldn't be able to change it. This is
Dec 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, thought provoking short story with a fascinating concept and philosophical undertones. Highly enjoyable.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Evolution of ...: Arrival 10 31 Dec 27, 2017 07:51AM  
Libri Labra Book ...: Arrival 1 6 Jun 20, 2017 10:07AM  
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
More about Ted Chiang...
“Despite knowing the journey and where it leads, I embrace it and welcome every moment” 18 likes
“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.” 5 likes
More quotes…