Monday, September 03, 2007

Stories of Your Life and Others - Ted Chiang

It's a damn shame that short stories rarely get the attention they deserve; for too many people, the length is off-putting and they go for something chunkier that they can absorb themselves in. I also like my doorstop-sized epics, but a good short story is a thing of joy, and the ones in here are some of the best.

Chiang's tales are far from being the science fiction of spaceships and technology - these are certainly present, but his main focus is on humanity. His particular interest appears to be language and perception, which he dissects and reassembles with great glee, and there are also a few tales written from perspectives and universes that give a very different view of reality. So, we have The Tower of Babylon where the Old Testament view of the cosmos is actually true, and you can build a tower to Heaven; Seventy Two Letters gives us a set of Victorian scientists dealing with golem-engineering and the practicalities of pre-Darwinian biology.

As ever, it's hard to do justice to short stories in reviews without giving away spoilers, so rather than continue, I'll direct you to one of the stories from this collection that's available online: Understand. Otherwise, I'll just state that these are some of the best short stories I've read in a long while, and there's not a dud among them - if the short form appeals to you, then you won't find much better than this. Go out and buy it now!



Blogger Aaron Wilson said...

I agree. I just discovered Ted Chiang at the library last month. I love the colection. I reviewed, "Evolution of Human Science" in my August issue.

Keep hyping the short stroy!

2:56 am  
Blogger Eva said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I started the story and expected another "Flowers for Algernon", but was extremely pleasantly surprised. I'll be checking out the libraries for this book, although I don't hold out much hope.

10:55 am  
Blogger Alice said...

Good luck in tracking down a copy! I picked it up quite cheaply on Amazon though so you may get lucky even if it doesn't turn up in a library...

3:50 pm  

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