Saturday, February 18, 2017

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

This collection of short stories first became known to me after seeing—and loving—the movie Arrival. I was so impressed with the movie, I sought out the book, not knowing it was in a collection of short works.

This is one of the few times I’ve enjoyed the movie more than the written work.

Chiang takes an introspective, and what can be a complex, scientific journey in storytelling. One is a take on the Tower of Babel, from the perspective of one building the tower. Another considers what it would be like if there was a mind-enhancing drug that could exponentially increase one's intelligence. Another explores the intellectual and how that challenge of communication with an alien race, and discovering the fluid dimension of time. One takes on an old Jewish idea is that a name (word) has power, and using names to give intellegence to animate objects (e.g. a golem).

I found them all interesting and thought provoking, but probably not to everyone's taste. His prose can be complex, needing a scientific-based mind to fully appreciate/understand all the nuances. This can make following the prose challenging, and often intriguing.

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