Stories of Your Life and Others
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ibsn13: 9781101972120

Take a shot every time Chiang brings up God (Tower of Babylon, Division By Zero, Hell is the Absence of God), writes about characters trying to be or become God-like by breaking through some kind of barrier, mental or physical (Tower of Babylon, Understand, Story of Your Life, Seventy-Two Letters), a scientist does science/deep-thinking, maybe discovering some new technology, and tries to convince the reader that said science will completely change everything they know to be true (Understand, Division By Zero, Story of Your Life, Seventy-Two Letters, Liking What You See: A Documentary) .

You will plastered out of your mind.

Jokes aside. I like Stories Of Your Life And Others quite a bit. Like with any short story collection, some stories will be better than others. My favorites are Story of Your Life (fantastic premise and twist ), Understand ( awesome escalation of stakes throughout the story ), Hell Is the Absence of God ( at this point I was becoming irrationally frustrated with Ted Chiang’s fixation with God BUT this story’s portrayal of God got me good ) and Liking What You See: A Documentary ( considering that this was written in 2002, I’m surprised how prophetic and relevant this story still is ).

Here’s my ratings for each story with a .gif to represent something in the story and/or my reaction to it.

Tower of Babylon ⭐⭐⭐

Understand ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Division by Zero ⭐⭐⭐

Story of Your Life ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Seventy-Two Letters ⭐⭐⭐

The Evolution of Human Science ⭐⭐⭐

Hell Is the Absence of God ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Liking What You See: A Documentary ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I remain unconvinced that the short story collection is a kind of book that I enjoy reading generally. It feels more like a way for publishers to sell short stories (which are probably a tough sell these days) than a format that deserves to exist outside of that context. If you’ve got any recommendations of short story collections that are better than the sum of their parts, send them my way!