This new edition of Ted Chiang’s masterful first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, includes his first eight published stories plus the author’s story notes and a cover that the author commissioned himself. Combining the precision and scientific curiosity of Kim Stanley Robinson with Lorrie Moore’s cool, clear love of language and narrative intricacy, this award-winning collection offers readers the dual delights of the very, very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar.
Stories of Your Life and Others presents characters who must confront sudden change—the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens—while striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. In the amazing and much-lauded title story, a grieving mother copes with divorce and the death of her daughter by drawing on her knowledge of alien languages and non-linear memory recollection. A clever pastiche of news reports and interviews chronicles a college’s initiative to “turn off” the human ability to recognize beauty in “Liking What You See: A Documentary.” With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty and constant change, and also by beauty and wonder.
Praise for Stories of Your Life and Others:
“Shining, haunting, mind-blowing tales . . . this collection is a pure marvel. Chiang is so exhilarating so original so stylish he just leaves you speechless. I always suggest a person read at least 52 books a year for proper mental functioning but if you only have time for one, be at peace: you found it.”
—Junot Díaz (author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
“Meticulously pieced together, utterly thought through, Chiang’s stories emerge slowly . . . but with the perfection of slow-growing crystal.”
—Lev Grossman, Best of the Decade: Science Fiction and Fantasy, Techland.com
“In Chiang’s hands, SF really is the ‘literature of ideas’ it is often held to be, and the genre’s traditional “sense of wonder” is paramount. But though one reads Stories of Your Life with a kind of thematic nostalgia for classic philosophical SF such as that of Asimov and Theodore Sturgeon, the collection never feels dated. Partly this is because the “wonder” of these stories is a modern, melancholy transcendence, not the naive ‘50s dreams of the genre’s golden age. More important, the collection is united by a humane intelligence that speaks very directly to the reader, and makes us experience each story with immediacy and Chiang’s calm passion.”
—China Mieville, The Guardian
“Ted is a national treasure . . . each of those stories is a goddamned jewel.”
—Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
“Chiang’s work confirms that blending science and fine art at this length can produce touching works, tales as intimate as our own blood cells, with the structural strength of just-discovered industrial alloys.”
—The Seattle Times
“Summarizing these stories does not do justice to Chiang’s talent. Seemingly ordinary ideas are pursued ruthlessly, their tendons flayed, their bones exposed. Chiang derides lazy thinking, weasels it out of its hiding place, and leaves it cowering.”
—The Washington Post
“Essential. You won’t know SF if you don’t read Ted Chiang.”
“Chiang writes seldom, but his almost unfathomably wonderful stories tick away with the precision of a Swiss watch—and explode in your awareness with shocking, devastating force.”
—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“The first must-read SF book of the year.”
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“He puts the science back in science fiction—brilliantly.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)
These stories were originally published as follows:
“Tower of Babylon,” Omni, 1990
“Understand,” Asimov’s, 1991
“Division by Zero,” Full Spectrum 3, 19912
“Story of Your Life,” Starlight 2, 1998
“Seventy-Two Letters,” Vanishing Acts, 2000
“The Evolution of Human Science,” Nature, 2000
“Hell is the Absence of God,” Starlight 3, 2001
“Liking What You See: A Documentary,” Stories of Your Life and Others, 2002
Cover art © Shelley Eshkar.
Ted Chiang was born in Port Jefferson, New York and holds a degree in computer science from Brown University. In 1989 he attended the Clarion Writers Workshop. His fiction has won three Hugos, four Nebulas, three Locus awards, and a Sturgeon award. He lives near Seattle, Washington.