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Stories of Your Life One of the best short story collections of the last ten years, back in print in a new edition. Full description

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38 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Gateway to Chiang's Universes! 2 novembre 2010
Par Maximiliano F Yofre - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
As I say in my Amazon Home Page I'm a sci-fi fan, nevertheless Ted Chiang was unknown to me. This year I've started to attend a seminar on "Creative Writing & Sci-Fi" and this author was introduced to us.
I'm delighted!

"Stories of Your Life and Others" (2002) is a wonderful collection of short stories of such quality I haven't seen since Sturgeon, Cordwainer Smith or Octavia Butler. Engaging, intelligent, well researched, creative, puzzling amongst many other adjectives may be attributed to this book!

I'll detail each story with comment & evaluation.

"Tower of Babylon" (1990) Nebula Award winner is a kind of Sumerian-sci-fi! The construction of the famed Tower is in its way nearing completion and miners from Elam and Egypt are convoked to penetrate Heaven's Dome. The story chronicles their lengthy ascent giving way to unexpected results. 5 stars.

"Understand" (1991) have some points in common with Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon" (1959 and 1966) versions; nevertheless enhanced human intelligence is boarded from a very different point, confronting selfish and altruistic positions. IMHO this is one of the best of the volume. 5 stars plus.

"Division by Zero" (1991) with a deep mathematical basement, it is an interesting tale, just a little too complex for my taste. 4 stars.

"Story of Your Life" (1998) is an incredible good story about deciphering alien communications. Not a new theme in sci-fi but extraordinarily solved by Chiang, earned for his author Nebula Award and T. Sturgeon Memorial Award. 5 stars plus.

"Seventy-Two Letters" (2000) aka "Vanishing Acts", Sidewise Award winner is a story situated in an alternative Victorian era, populated with golems and the power of written names. 4 stars.

"The Evolution of Humana Science" (2000) aka "Catching Crumbs from the Table" it is an ultra-short tale, effective but not my cup of tea. 3 and a half stars.

"Hell is the Absence of God" (2001) a weird and delightful mix of alternate universe and religious beliefs; angels and miracles; healing and death; Hugo, Locus and Nebula Awards winner. What else you may ask to certify quality? 5 stars plus.

"Liking What You See: A Documentary" (2002) first published in this book it is about beauty and its perception and influence. 3 and a half stars.

This book is a real gem and I fervently hope Mr. Chiang will continue giving life to more magnificent stories (and to a long novel, perhaps). Not only sci-fi fans may appreciate it, general (open-minded) public too!

Reviewed by Max Yofre.
46 internautes sur 52 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
One of the best recent collections I've read . . . 30 janvier 2003
Par Michael K. Smith - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I gave up a decade ago on trying to keep up with the science fiction magazines, so I only recently became aware of Ted Chiang's wide range of ideas and considerable proficiency at communicating them. There are eight stories in this anthology; all of them are at least good and several are excellent. Perhaps the best is the title piece, "Story of Your Life," which is also the only one I had previously read. It's about simultaneity vs. sequentiality and free will vs. predestination, with a strong taste of the sort of notions regarding time that Vonnegut originally made use of in _Slaughterhouse Five_. "Tower of Babylon" is sort of Babylonian science fiction, about the building of a mud-brick tower that takes four months to ascend and which reaches all the way to the vaults of heaven. An intriguing yarn, though the ending is a little weak. "Understand" is an interesting kind of riff on "Flowers for Algernon," but with the implications very much updated. "Division by Zero" is about the effect on a woman mathematician who discovers (and proves) that the basic principals of math are quite arbitrary and inconsistent. While it's a good psychological portrait, and also vividly presents some (to me) novel ideas, the math and the character development really have nothing to do with each other. "Seventy-Two Letters" is set in an alternate Victorian London in which nomenclature, the act of bestowing names on things, has become an experimental science. There's a certain Bruce Sterling flavor here, but it's really not at all derivative. "The Evolution of Human Science" is a short-short that originally appeared in NATURE. I'm not sure I got the point of it, frankly, though it has a rather neat twisty ending. "Hell Is the Absence of God" is another terrific tale of an alternate world in which the souls of the deceased can be seen ascending or descending, Hell is often visible just below street level, and miracles are a regular news item. But a visitation by an angel (tracked by CB) is just as likely to kill an innocent bystander with an exploding window as to restore sight to the blind. Moreover, the whole God and salvation thing is entirely happenstantial, arbitrary, and without justice of any kind; a convicted child-killer who sees the Light goes to Heaven after his execution, while the victim of two previous miracles -- the first crippling, the second restorative -- receives a wasted third miracle she doesn't want or need. This is a quietly angry story and, as a thoroughgoing secularist who is frequently put off by smug santimony, I really enjoyed it. "Liking What You See: A Documentary" is a very thoughtful and insightful examination of the misuse of beauty, of the effects of "lookism," and of the ruthlessness of media advertising. Very nicely done. In all, I have to say that while Chiang doesn't always get it quite right, he's certainly well above the average. I'm definitely going to have to keep up with his future work.
24 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Wow! 23 octobre 2002
Par Jonathan A. Turner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is some of the best SF being written today. The stories are uniformly good, and some of them are spectacular. Every one of them has an idea at its core, and the ideas will remain with you after you finish reading. That's one of the things that SF is supposed to do (but usually doesn't).
I'd compare this book to Greg Egan's _Axiomatic_, another collection of fascinating idea-driven work. Chiang's vision is not as dark as Egan's, and he's not nearly as fixated on the idea of posthumanity, but his breadth is if anything greater. These stories range in type from the classical-SF ("Liking What You See") to charcter pieces ("Stories of Your Life") to alternative but utterly convincing societies ("72 Letters"). No, there are no space battles, no massive technical infodumps, and not a great deal of action here. Don't worry; you probably won't miss it.
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Some of the best short SF of the past decade 7 septembre 2002
Par Richard R. Horton - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others collects all his fiction to date, including one new story. It is an excellent collection. I reread the earlier stories for the first time in a long time -- I was particularly impressed on rereading by "Tower of Babylon", which posits a cosmology in which a Tower of Babel could actually be successfully built. I admit I didn't quite get "Division by Zero", about a woman mathematician driven to despair when she proves that arithmetic is inconsistent. "Understand" is a nice, dark, story about a man who becomes a superman when he undergoes an experimental brain treatment -- and what happens when he finds another superman.
Of the later stories, "Story of Your Life" remains my favorite, both very very moving and mind-blowing as well, told in second person successfully (and for good reason). It accomplishes the rare feat of combining an interesting bit of SFnal speculation (concerning aliens who perceive time differently than we do), worth a story on its own merits, with a moving human story (about a woman and her daughter, who dies young), and using the SF ideas to really drive home the human themes. While at the same time maintaining interest as pure SF. I'm fond of saying that there are two types of SF: stories about the science, and stories which use the science to be about people. This is both types in one. "Seventy-Two Letters" has a great central idea, and it does some nice things working out the implications, but the story itself is resolved with too much actiony hugger-mugger. "Hell is the Absence of God" again has a neat central conceit, and is uncompromising in working it out -- but I admit I was confused by the ending. His Nature short-short is a nice speculation on the future of science in a "post-human" world. And the new story, "Liking What You See" (reminiscent (both in central idea and form) of Raphael Carter's "Congenital Agenesis of Gender Ideation"), again takes a neat idea, the development of a means of making people unable to perceive human beauty, and extrapolates the consequences wonderfully. (I did think he cooked his argument a bit by having all the "opponents" of the side he seemed to favor being basically evil.)
So far Chiang hasn't been very prolific, but even so, 7 stories of this quality in just over a decade is better than most writers do in a career.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Chiang's rep is well-deserved, but many stories I didn't dig 21 novembre 2003
Par KTB - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
For years I've been hearing wonderful things about this fantastic writer named Ted Chiang. Ted, the wunderkind whose first published story won a Nebula (accepted before he went to Clarion, even!) who keeps winning awards and is known by all and has the audacity to not write very many stories and not one novel. So, it was with some sense of anticipation that I picked up his first short story collection. I had heard of many of the stories in it--Tower of Babylon, Hell is the Absence of God, Story of Your Life--and was determined to like them.
Oddly, my reaction was mixed.
Part of this collection pleased me to no end; part of it elicited no more than a 'meh'. Why the mix? I'm not sure. The first three selections did not thrill me. I think that I felt as though the stories were high on the idea axis, but low on the other axes. In fact, when I finished reading Babylon I felt kind of cheated, as it seemed to me a long set-up for a punchline-type ending.
But then I read Story of Your Life and everything changed. Oh, how I loved that story. This is where I felt Chiang really got it right. The idea and the characters and the plot and the everything in perfect harmony. I also felt this way about Hell is the Absence of God and Liking What You See: A Documentary (even though this is, apparently, not one of Ted's favorite stories). With these three I saw all the marks of really great talent and storytelling.
Seventy-Two Letters and The Evolution of Science didn't hold any big fascination for me, but didn't produce the same disappointment as the first three I read did.
Chiang's reputation is well-deserved. These are fine stories, and good examples of what they are. Even the ones that I didn't like still had an energy to them that I can't help but admire. And they all had a quality of intelligence that is missing from so much fiction I read. Not talking down to an audience, but instead bringing them up a level or two.
This book is definitely recommended.
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