The Book of Leviathan j35 starsI don t often read science fiction and when I do those I ve chosen in the past are appropriately labeled as speculative fiction Stories that take place right here on our planet sans aliens Or if they do happen to occur in other worlds what is being examined is not so much the aliens themselves but the nature of our own humanity in comparison to these other beings These are the best kinds of stories and I ve found some of my very favorites in this genre Having once read a short story by Ted Chiang in the past and finding it uite brilliant I was game for giving this collection a go What I discovered was that Chiang has an inuisitive mind and a love for math and science which I thoroughly admire He makes you think and expand your mind to the point you will need to sit and ponder each story for uite some time before moving on to the next Like an all you can eat buffet You want to take it all in but if you go too uickly you will be overwhelmed by your overindulgence Each story is so uniue Because I had very different reactions to each one I ll share some thoughts on each one individually Tower of Babylon 5 stars Based on the Old Testament story but with a fresh angle this one transcends any time period Men try to reach the vault of heaven in order to better understand the secrets and mysteries of God The world building in this one was my favorite so visual and rich in detail especially for a short story What happens when you break through the floor of heaven I loved how this one ended Perhaps men were not meant to live in such a place If their own natures restrained them from approaching heaven too closely then men should remain on the earth Understand 25 stars After suffering from a traumatic brain injury a man is given hormone K therapy to regenerate the damaged neurons As a result the man s intelligence is enhanced exponentially What does he do with this new gift and how does it isolate him from others I liked the concept of this one better than the actual execution One of my favorite books ever Flowers for Algernon handles this idea with the added benefit of a pulling at the heartstrings kind of emotional draw that I ll never forget Here the constraints of the short storyust don t allow it to achieve that greatness I m reminded of the Confucian concept of ren inadeuately conveyed by benevolence that uality which is uintessentially human which can only be cultivated through interaction with others and which a solitary person cannot manifest Division by Zero 4 stars 1 2 What if you could prove otherwise What if all number could be proved eual to one another A gifted mathematician grapples with a mathematical proof in conjunction with her ideas of love and marriage If all that we believed about mathematics is proved false then order no longer exists and chaos rules This brought me back to my lonely days sitting in a math library pulling out obscure books in order to prove some confounding theorem She like many had always thought that mathematics did not derive its meaning from the universe but rather imposed some meaning onto the universe Story of Your Life 5 stars This story contains elements of what we naturally consider when we hear the term science fiction Aliens visit Earth and teams of linguists and physicists among others are formed to communicate and learn from these so called heptapods This is the stuff that really intrigues me So much of our own communication among humans is not conveyed properly misunderstandings abound and cultures and countries are always in discord with one another How the hell are we supposed to ever truly understand an alien race should we ever make contact with one The concept of time is brilliantly explored Louise the linguist discovers than she could ever imagine after breaking down some of the boundaries between these beings and our own species A twist on time left me stunned I know how this story ends I think about it a lot I also think a lot about how it began Nine Ghosts just a few years ago when ships appeared in orbit and artifacts appeared in meadows Seventy Two Letters 2 stars This storyust tried to do a bit too much It could have been made into two individual stories and been impactful perhaps Victorian England automata combined with golems ideas on preformation as a means of continuing the human species and the practice of eugenics Some of the ideas reminded me of certain tyrannical leaders of the past and present Scary stuff indeed By exercising some udgment when choosing who may bear children or not our government could preserve the nation s racial stock The Evolution of Human Science 1 star A very brief story examining hermeneutics and the idea of metahumans I think I fell asleep reading this one Only this caught my attention what is the role of human scientists in an age when the frontiers of scientific inuiry have moved beyond the comprehension of humans Hell is the Absence of God 4 stars I wasn t sure where this one was going
initially but once it clicked i was delighted but once it clicked I was delighted visit earth on a regular basis inflicting pain on some and dispensing miracles to others A thought provoking insight into heaven and hell and the randomness of catastrophes death and the saving of souls Believers beware he s always assumed his destination was Hell and he accepted that That was the way of things and Hell after all was not physically worse than the mortal plane Liking What You See A Documentary 3 stars If you could essentially turn off your
capacity to see physical attractiveness would you do so That s what calliagnosia to see physical attractiveness would you do so That s what calliagnosia do for you And vice versa would it be better if others couldn t see you based on your beauty or lack thereof One would see past the surface and into the depths of a person instead eliminating discrimination based on looks alone The idea was fascinating but the style of this as a series of little interviews didn t uite appeal to me as a straightforward narrative might When you see a smile that s genuine you ll see beauty When you see an act of courage or generosity you ll See Beauty Most Of All beauty Most of all you look at someone you love you ll see beautyTed Chiang is clearly an ideas kind of writer And those ideas are rather genius Being a certain kind of reader I found the emotionally charged language and dialogue I so love to be lacking in most of the stories If you put characterization at the top of your list you may be disappointed because that is not what Chiang is after here He excels at challenging your mind to stretch itself farther than you could possibly imagine from a set of little stories For that reason I will most definitely read his work again What s there to say about Chiang that all the others don t say He is the closest thing to a modern Jorge Luis Borges in melding high concepts with literature to create something better than either in some respects I d rank his best short stories as better than Gene Wolfe s too often tedious unsolved puzzleboxes His writing is deceptively excellent I would call him a writer s writer because the flat evenness of his prose may strike a reader as boring unless they have tried to write as clearly themselves and failed abysmally at which point they begin to appreciate Chiang s infallible choice of words and lucid prose which sinks into the mind without friction Stories of Your Life and Others is much superior to his novella Life Cycle of Software Objects and contains pretty much all of his greatest short stories which I have read except for his excellent Exhalation I read most of them online so when I had the chance to read a hardcopy of the full collection I seized it1 The Tower of Babylon amusing and in describing the lives of the people living on the tower moving in some respects The final ending feels like an appropriate conclusion If one had to criticize it it would be that the Tower itself is completely unrealistic even in the Biblical cosmology of the story as I said the best Chiang stories unite literature and good ideas I would rank this 5 of the 8 stories2 Division by Zero not terribly impressive over wrought and I feel I have read this story before and better 73 Understand a classic in the niche genre of superintelligence and IMO better than Vinge s Bookworm Run and at least as good as Flowers for Algernon Chiang like every other author confronts the limits of his writing ability in trying to write convincingly of a superintelligence who is by definition vastly smarter than he is the same challenge laid down by Campbell to Vinge you can t write this story and neither can anyone else and so the start of the story is much stronger than the later passages But the whole is still memorable 4 Probably an even better read for those who haven t read about themes of superintelligence before4 Story of Your Life I had actually read this one before and dismissed it as sentimental tripe with some weak physics or linguistic layering that I didn t really understand In this respect like many of the other reviewers on this page who pan it as dumb seeing the future tropes the fault was mine Story of Your Life is much better than the critics give it credit for being simply because they entirely failed to understand the concept despite uite a lot of explanation from Chiang Fortunately ust a few weeks ago I happened to read some material on the Lagrangian interpretations of physics and combined with knowing in advance the ending I was able to appreciate the story much better this time Thinking about it I realized it does something unusual in providing another angle a psychological angle to timeless interpretations of physics and block universes and backpropagation in neural networks and I even connected it to Zen which makes them all a little easier to understand for me I didn t get it the first time but I m glad I eventually reread Stories of Your Life and Others delivers dual delights of the very very strange and the heartbreakingly familiar often presenting characters who must confro.
CHARACTERS Ë MAPLELEAF-TECHNOLOGIES.CO.UK ☆ Ted ChiangT be great people Level the playing field and شرح جامع مثنوى معنوى judge people by their actions Great huh Well this documentary focuses on pilot schools and whole social movements for the treatment and the backlash of whole industries that want the slavery to continue Really great thought experiment and beautifully writtenCult of personality indeed How much of it is skin deep Sorry I got really excited about all this I love it when I read really great books The greatest living short story writer in my humble opinion This is a story of love and the devastating conseuences of realising one s love object is not as perfect as one thoughtThe opening paragraph reads like a maths textbook and the second is set in a psychiatric hospital Don t let either put you off I married a man with a maths degree and our child is now at university studying theoretical physics that is practically maths but I am primarily a words person This gave me a wonderful peek at theoy that can be found in numbers and patterns theoretical and also physical as well as the psychological risks As a child of seven Renee had been spellbound at discovering the perfect suares in the smooth marble tiles of the floor A single one two rows of two three rows of three the tiles fit together in a suare No matter which side you looked at it from ti came out the same And than that each suare was bigger than the last by an odd number of tiles It was an epiphany The conclusion was necessary it had a rightness to it confirmed by the smooth cool feel of the tiles And the way the tiles were fitted together she had shivered at the precision She devoted her life to maths was happy and successful until she made a discovery that was like a theologian proving that there was no God How to find meaning life after that And don t say 42The mathematical ideas relevant to the story were explained clearly enough that I think I understood them sufficiently If you want to delve deeper Mark H recommended this though I confess it went above my head For other stories in the collection Stories of Your Life see my review HEREImage source reviewTed Chiang is a technical writer in the software industry as many of the best people are He occasionally publishes short stories a remarkably high proportion of which have won major sci fi awards including 4 Nebulas and 4 Hugos for only 15 works That indicates the uality of what s within these pages but may mislead about the genre content and style Some are set in the far past and the only aliens and space faring are in the title story though there is futuristic technology in most Speculative fiction than sci fi Instead these stories are primarily about inner space and ideas especially seeking meaning by analysing patterns of language maths and nature That leads to theological and philosophical uestions about good evil God and what it means to be human and at what point we cease to be such see also Vonnegut s GalapagosThe reviews of individual stories are in spoiler tags for easy scrolling but don t contain spoilersTower of Babylon 4Drilling through the vault of heaven in ancient Babylon view spoiler The first short story in a collection by a supposed sci fi author is set in Old Testament Babylon and features nothing futuristic or alien It almost feels as if it were written in ancient times If you want a label you could use Atwood s speculative fiction or perhaps less appealingly maths fiction The Tower of Babylon has nearly reached the vault of heaven Miners are recruited to drill through so people can know Yahweh better The tower is so high it takes the team around four months of solid climbing dragging tools on cartsThe world building was believably detailed the mythology and psychology almost real Whole communities live at levels on the tower never coming down to earth with ingenious ways of growing food At higher levels the light of day shone upward and plants grow sideways or down At the very top they walk among moving stars and the sight of the vault inspired unease They uestion the theology and conseuences of what they are doing might Yahweh punish their arrogance or be pleased at their aspiration and endeavour They continue cautiously using ancient techniues of fire setting and simple picks and drills slowly creating huge chambers in the smooth granite vault The dramatic conclusion causes a complete reappraisal of beliefs about God man and their relationship Ultimately By this construction Yahweh s work was indicated and Yahweh s work was concealed Image source for ancient cylinder seal hide spoiler Interfering Gremlin of GR AlertThis review was originally of the anthology Stories of Your Life and Others then recently I wrote a separate review for the individual story Story of Your Life Today I woke up to find GR have merged the two reviews WTF Now it looks super long winded OK I d better reorganize this review a bitReview of the novella Story of Your Life Story of Your Life is one of Ted Chiang s best stories Ted Chiang is one of the greatest sci fi short stories writers ever in many SF readers estimation he has won numerous Hugo and Nebula awards This shortish story novella has been adapted into a into a film called Arrival It is part of Chiang s legendary anthology Stories of Your Life and Others Story of Your Life has a twin narrative timelines or plot strands Here is an example from each timeline There s no easy way for us to write our own sentences in their language We can t simply cut their sentences into individual words and recombine them we ll have to learn the rules of their script before we can write anything legible It s the same continuity problem we d have had splicing together speech fragments except applied to writing It ll be when you first learn to walk that I get daily demonstrations Of The Asymmetry In Our Relationship You Ll Be Incessantly the asymmetry in our relationship You ll be incessantly off somewhere and each time you walk into a door frame or scrape your knee the pain feels like it s my own The writing of the two timelines not only seems to be from different books but also by different authors One of the timelines deals with the main story arc Aliens are orbiting Earth in their craft for unknown purposes certainly not to invade they initiate communication with humans through mysterious looking glasses devices Neither humans or aliens have any understanding of each other s language so the military enlists ace linguist Dr Louise Banks to study and somehow learn their languageIt turns out that the radially symmetrical aliens nicknamed heptapods by the humans have separate spoken and written languages called by Louise Heptapod A and Heptapod B respectively The Heptapod B language is based on the aliens perception of time as simultaneous not seuential like how humans perceive it In learning Heptapod B Louise also learns to perceive time as they do The other timeline is a intimate story of Louise s life with her daughter curiously written in second person future tenseThe narrative switches back and forth between the two timelines Diehard sci fi fans are likely to find the business with the aliens interesting than the story of Louise s daughter s life Personally I find both timelines interesting with very different appeals Fans of China Mi ville s excellent Embassytown will find the linguistic and philosophical explorations of this story uite fascinating On the philosophical side the story explores the idea of predestination free will and how these things can affect the key decisions we make in life Story of Your Life was previously legitimately
available free to read online or download but I suspect the movie studio has put a stop to that Itfree to read online or download but I suspect the movie studio has put a stop to that It a well deserved Nebula Award and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award winner Ted Chiang is a wonderfully versatile writer he can be erudite technical philosophical or lyrical as the story reuires I also highly recommend that you buy his amazing anthology Stories of Your Life and Others see review further
Down This Page There Are Mind Bogglingthis page There are mind boggling to be found thereNotesSimilar to how Kurt Vonnegut s Tralfamadorians aliens perceive time in Slaughterhouse Five There are still some great Ted Chiang stories that you can read online or download One is The Lifecycle of Software Objects is a brilliant story that you should not miss Try Googling for others Among other things this story is also a nice tribute to Jorge Luis Borges who is one of Chiang s influences Ted Chiang reveals how Arrival went from page to screen Update Jan 22 2017 The movie Arrival is not too shabby of a Departure than Arrival but the changes are tolerable The military crisis they added on seems superfluous to me but the general filmgoers may need that kind of tension I don t know I certainly think you would appreciate the movie better after reading Story of Your Life firstuotes I remember once when we ll be driving to the mall to buy some new clothes for you You ll be thirteen It was strange trying to learn a language that had no spoken form Instead of practicing my pronunciation I had ta Posted at HeradasTed Chiang s name continually comes up in lists of great short stories He s never written a novel but his short fiction has won nearly every SF award that ex Reading is nothing comprehension is everything Sarah RichardsI read the title short story while away at a conference for technical writers The uote above came from a presentation about transforming the Government Digital Service but the issues of communication context and audience that are at the heart of this story are key to technical writing and had echoes in many of the presentations Perhaps it is no coincidence that Ted Chiang is also a technical writerNote This review is ust the title story I ve reviewed the others in this collection HERESame Old Same Old NoAliens arrive They are suitably weird looking radially What it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty but also by beauty and wonder An award winning collection from one of today's most lauded writer. ,
T and got it I would rank this 3 of the 8 stories 3 This story is what I believe was the first adaptation of any of Chiang s stories despite being overrated like Life Cycle of Software Objects getting a movie in 2016 Since there seems to be some confusion over what exactly Chiang is trying to say with this one I ve expanded out my thoughts on what is actually going on in an essay movie however avoids this almost entirely When I heard there was going to be a movie I said to myself I bet it ll miss the entire point and make it about time travel or something It does Avoiding the physics entirely the screenwriter takes the offhand mention of Sapir Whorf and interprets the protagonist as getting actual time travel powers based on his interview making no mention of why when he decided to drastically simplify I suspect he doesn t even realize how badly he failed to understand it The scriptwriter apparently took the only bits he understood a mention of the Sapir Whorf hypothesis which is mostly a hypothesis as decades of searching have turned up less than impressive empirical results like slightly easier perception of named colors and better geographic location knowledge when grammar encodes direction certainly nothing like the grand expectations in the 1960s that led to such linguistic neologistic monstrosities as herstory or womyn With the meaning of the story excised he has to come up with a regular plot and does this by giving the aliens a dare I say human motivation in trying to somehow save themselves by uplifting humans This is itself a betrayal of part of Chiang s ethos in many of his stories Chiang is depicting the unknown and the unknowable and human confrontation with it The heat death of the universe in Exhalation post human intelligence in Understand post human knowledge science in The Evolution of Human Science the nature of God and morality and the implications of divine command theory in Hell is the Absence of God what lies beyond the sky or the circular universe in The Tower of Babylon and alien cognition and ways of viewing the universe in Story of Your Life What s left is mostly a glossy action movie heavy on military hardware presumably this is one of those Hollywood productions where the US military provides lots of euipment personnel in exchange for a positive depiction as honest competent not trigger happy about the need for a world government with the physics theme turned into ust a Sapir Whorf superpower though this makes no sense in universe if the protagonist can create stable time loops and steal information from the future why doesn t she steal a cure Or why not see an alternate future where her child doesn t get sick or an entirely different husband and healthy child she could also love Or how is Heptapodese not supposed to lead to incredible chaos as people learn it and start monkeying with the future Why do the aliens need any assistance from the humans in the first place whether to learn their language or to save themselves The special effects depiction of Heptapod is some nifty cloud effects but the heptapods themselves are not terribly compelling aliens As a rendering of Chiang s vision I would have to give it an F because it is frustratingly almost the opposite of what he meant and as a generic Hollywood SF movie I would give it a B I would doubtless have enjoyed it if I had never read the story5 The Evolution of Human Science short dubious Not Chiang s best work on either dimension 86 Seventy Two Letters simply fantastic The setting is wonderful the problem great the ideas even better and the solution meaning better still I can t say it s incredibly deep but it s a look at a road not taken and a reminder of how confusing genetics was and how many strange ideas were proposed before we reached anything like the current Mendel Fisher particulate inheritance paradigm 27 Hell Is the Absence of God as an atheist who keeps coming back to the Wisdom Books the Book of Job particularly KJV translation of course this story came as a gut punch The writing is Chiang at his most Chiang y the world interesting and provocative Chiang takes the Bible literally but not seriously one might say and the ending simply unspeakable But don t take my word for it decide for yourself as the fallen angels say This story enriches reading the Book of Job for me and I think ultimately hammers in for me the unacceptability of divine command ethics and makes me atheistic 1 Pairs well with Scott Alexander s freewheeling Unsong8 Liking What You See A Documentary interesting ideas but something about the dialogues and characters seem off It Riding Hard justars me I think somewhere Chiang also notes his dissatisfaction with the writing of this one 6 Loving ImperfectionsIf arithmetic were consistent love could not exist That is to say if arithmetic were undeniably logical in its foundations logic would rule the worild and love would be eliminated as the irrational thing it is This is how I read the moral of Chiang s marvellous storyMathematicians tend to
numbers as the natural constituents of the universe existing independently in a realm of perfection Such a universe is orderly reliable and comprehensible even if it is than occasionally painfulBut the existence of love is overwhelming evidence that the universe is not constructed according to entirely consistent principles Love appears to have no principles It arrives randomly and dissipates the same way Love contradicts itself by denying its own self interest and inherent irrationalityThe existence of love therefore brings into uestion the fundamentals of mathematics even the therefore brings into uestion the fundamentals of mathematics even the basic idea that 112 Love demonstrates that one number can be euivalent to any other number one wishes Love exists in short because arithmetic is inconsistent I don t read very many short stories collection but after this one I feel like I now need toThis one contains the most mind bending and original sci fi stories I ve read in a whileMy favorite what the last one Update Saturday the 12th November 2016I Arabian Challenge just watched the movie The Arrival and OMG it was amazing I cried Like a lot I had chills and sat on the edge of my seat and I was totally engaged What s worse The personal aspects of the movieust blew me away And even worse The mental ones were profound and beautiful and amazing I AM SUEEEINGNow here s the big uestion Am I a fanboy because the movie only improved my appreciation of the original story Or am I ust blown away by the better presentation of the original storyThe mathematical implications in the original story and the way it described what was going on is not to be discounted at all mind you I loved what the text could do and did But the movie got me on a whole different level and I was laughing and crying and it was soooo damn bittersweet and glorious all at the same time I was MOVED Jeeze I m amazed evenSo Best movie of the year I think so There were a lot of great ones out there too but this one took the cake shiver Old ReviewI can t believe that I took so long to check out this story collection In fact I don t believe it For one good reason I read one of his short stories when it came out and hadn t remembered that I had until a few pages in AND I remembered loving it Golems Names of God MURDER That was one hell of a pleasant surpriseAs for the rest I admit to wanting to know the story that The Arrival is based on before I watched the movie this weekend And here s the strange part While I loved it I loved all the other stories even shockSeriously this man is a walking powerhouse of sharp as hell storytelling and erudition all wrapped up in an utterly fascinating intensity and focus on singularly awesome issues I ll skip discussion on the stories that didn t blow me away but that still leaves almost all the stories in the bookWhat do I mean Okay take Tower of Babylon If having a world where the building of the tower wasn t hampered where reaching the city of God at the top takes than a full year of pilgrimage where we re immersed in ancient Babylon is twisted with one singular difference can you guess what that difference is I laughed out loud after I discovered it Just imagine the old oke of half glass fullempty when applied to engineers The glass didn t meet design specifications Oh my god Anyway Then there was Understand which made me think of Flowers for Algernon with a seriously different bent Let s go ultimate intelligence with the focus on understanding the real nature of thought Hell yeah I mean we didn t even need the techno thriller aspects of this modern retelling or the fight between ultimate intelligences Not really But it was also fun as hellWhat about Stories of Your Life The one that is tied to the new movie It s about linguistics and the nature of similar concepts linking the ways we think about higher physics and the fact that we need to make that bridge before we could even speak to this alien intelligence Or how our conception of time of cause and effect is completely useless inside their language If we actually begin to understand it that heavy concept how can that change our lives It really is gorgeous Seventy Two Letters Golems as a great twist on artificial intelligence featuring the problems of reproduction and natural selection as a linguistic issue focusing on the Kabbalah as the key to unlock the power and creative force of God And it s a great adventure too Liking What You See A Documentary Oh goodness this was a blast It s all focused on the nature and the use and misuse of beauty with a major twist What if we could block the paths in our brains that let us see and feel the effects of beauty Purpose To see people as they really are below the skin No pre udging assholes as really great people because they re pretty No ignoring the uglies who migh. Nt sudden change the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens with some sense of normalcy With sharp intelligence and humor Chiang examines.view numbers as the natural constituents of the universe existing independently in a