Monday, November 26, 2007

Book Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Every Monday, I'll be doing spoiler-free book reviews.

It's been more than seventeen years since Chiang's first short story won the Nebula yet all he has to show for are ten stories. For me, that's fine since Chiang is really that good and mind-blowing. Of the ten stories, eight are included in this collection and they are all very superior in my opinion, keeping my mind alert late in the evening. Chiang is labeled as a science fiction writer although it's not always readily apparent that his stories are the stuff of science fiction because some are set in fantastical settings. Still, the stories here have massive philosophical underpinnings even if they're not always the optimistic sort. "Tower of Babylon" puts a unique twist to the fabled story, "Division by Zero" revolves around the inconsistency of mathematics, "Understand" this Borgesian evolution of man, "Story of Your Life" a story that juxtaposes a linguist's encounter with non-linear aliens and her daughter, "The Evolution of Human Science" a seemingly essay story about coping in a society with metahumans, "Seventy-Two Letters" a unique twist to the golem myth, "Hell is the Absence of God" a story which is Chiang's own take on religion, and "Liking What You See: A Documentary" a challenging social piece. Obviously I've fallen in love with Chiang and this collection is a must-read for any SF fan. For the rest, be prepared to bring along your thinking cap!

Rating: 5/5.

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