January 03, 2006
Stories of your life and others by Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang has built quite a reputation since winning two Nebula awards for his short stories and also the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in 1992. This is his first book collecting eight of his short stories.
"Tower of Babylon", Ted Chiang's first story and Nebula award winner is probably the story that built his reputation. Tom Disch called this story `Babylonian science fiction' and it clearly goes beyond what you would expect. It gives new life to the Tower of Babel parable.
"Understand" is a disappointing take on the now common `man becomes superman through techno babble' storyline. "Division by Zero" on the other hand, is quite wonderful, based on a very simple premise.
"Story of Your Life" takes on one of the hardest tasks in science fiction: that of inventing a new language without making obvious mistakes or making it too boring. While the story revolves around the decipherment of an alien language, the central idea is a novel interpretation of variational methods from statistical physics.
"Seventy-Two Letters" is a sf take on the golem and "The Evolution of Human Science" takes on the lost art of the 2 page sf story (reminds me of Asimov). Ted Chiang seems to take quite a bit of inspiration from biblical sources, as is evident from "Hell is the Absence of God", a take on angels inspired by "The Prophecy". "Liking what you see: A Documentary" is somewhat awkwardly written but carries a meditation on `look'-ism.
%T Stories of your life %T : and others %A Ted Chiang %I Tor Books %P 333 %D 2002 %G ISBN: 076530418X %K science-fiction
Review written: 2002/10/07Posted by anoop at January 3, 2006 02:37 PM