Ted Chiang - published October 2010
October 2010 · 9781931520720 · trade paperback/ebook
June 2016: Now available in a new edition from Vintage.
Soon to be a Major Motion Picture starring Amy Adams, directed by Denis Villeneuve, from a script by Eric Heisserer.
Read a current profile of Ted Chiang in the California Sunday Magazine: “The Perfectionist”
A new edition of Ted Chiang’s masterful first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, which includes his first eight published stories plus the author’s story notes and a cover 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, “Story of Your Life,” 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.
“Liking What You See: A Documentary,” which was new for this collection, is a clever pastiche of news reports and interviews which chronicles a college’s initiative to “turn off” the human ability to recognize beauty.
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. Stories in this collection received the following awards: the Nebula (3), Hayakawa (3), Seiun (2), Sturgeon, Hugo, Locus, and Sidewise Award.
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
“Science fiction is a genre that often works well off the page. Spaceships and robots are just as thrilling on screen as in books. But Mr Chiang’s approach is irreplaceable. His stories mirror the process of scientific discovery: complex ideas emerge from the measured, methodical accumulation of information until epiphany strikes. . . . The best science fiction inspires awe for the natural properties of the universe; it renders the fundamentals of science poignant and affecting. Mr Chiang’s writing manages all of this. He deserves to be more widely read.”
—The Economist, Prospero blog
“Throughout all his work, though no more so than in “Story of Your Life,” you can feel his months of removing sentences from his stories. Perhaps that he writes so little does something good for him, or maybe it’s just that he doesn’t write enough.”
—Choire Sicha, The Millions
“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
“Newly reissued by Small Beer Press, the stories range widely in time, subject and style but are united by a patient but ruthless fascination with the limits of knowledge.”
—Ed Park, Los Angeles Times
“Chiang is the real deal. His debut collection, Stories of Your Life and Others is one of the finest collections of short fiction I have read in the last decade. These tales possess the imaginative frisson that is a trademark of the best conceptual fiction, but, also bespeak a confident prose style and a willingness to take chances in tone and narrative structure.”
—Ted Gioia, Conceptual Fiction
“This collection of short stories deserves constant re-introduction. Ted Chiang narrows the broad line between fiction and science fiction by taking a scalpel to “normal,” transforming it in ways that will blow your mind and challenge your beliefs. It’s a breathless ride.”
—Capitola Book Cafe
“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, 1991
“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.
Stories of Your Life was originally published in 2002 by Tor.
1st printing, October 2010
2nd printing, February 2011
3rd printing, July 2012
4th printing, November 2013
5th printing, January 2015
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, the John W. Campbell, and Sturgeon awards. He lives near Seattle, Washington.