Story of Your Life
August 17, 2016 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Trailer for Arrival, the new Denis Villeneuve film based on a Ted Chiang short story, starring Amy Adams, Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner. Ted Chiang on seeing his stories adapted to the screen. Previous Ted Chiang.
posted by Artw (50 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
This looks pretty promising, and Chiang is fantastic.

He talks in the interview about "Hell is the Absence of God" having been pitched as a TV series, which went nowhere, but that he's still interested in seeing that story adapted into a visual medium.

Ted Chiang, please have a little talk with Hideaki Anno, maybe? At least that story would make for great anime.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:38 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Wasn't even aware this existed, suddenly excited.

The trailer could have ended at 0:35 or 1:22, though.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:40 PM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

(This is what I get for waiting to make a post...)

If anyone's interested, linguists reactions to the trailer here on language log; on the original short story here and another linguist commenting here.

TL;DR: Ted Chiang clearly did his homework and his story shows an accurate depiction of (1) what linguistic field work is, and (2) how to make an alien language really quite weird and interesting. Hopefully, the movie lives up to the short story.
posted by damayanti at 6:45 PM on August 17, 2016 [12 favorites]

The trailer could have ended at 0:35 or 1:22, though.

The modern curse of trailers that go in 2 or three plot turns too deep... The poster campaign is a bit Independence Day too, which I am hoping the movie is not. Villeneuve seems solid, so I am trusting it'll be good.
posted by Artw at 6:49 PM on August 17, 2016

(This is what I get for waiting to make a post...)

Sorry abut that - given how everyone is about Chiang arund here I was a bit surprised there wasn't already one. :-)
posted by Artw at 6:50 PM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

I thought for a long time this was a "Hell is the Absence of God" movie, and while I'm sure this movie will be just fine, that is the movie I want.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:56 PM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

Chiang doesn't say much about the adaptation of Story of Your Life in this interview. But if he's happy with the adaptation, then I suppose I'm happy with it, because he's definitely earned my trust.

Each Chiang story has, at its core, a nucleus of an idea, and everything accumulates around that nucleus. In Story of Your Life that nucleus is the notion of the mandala as form of writing: that a complex idea can be communicated not just through a narrative or sequence of statements, but through a single gestalt image, all at once and without necessary order. This is how the arriving aliens communicate, and this is how the human communicator's mind is altered in her effort to communicate with them. The story is a retrospective, told to her child, after these events occur, and because her mind has been so altered, the story is, thus, a mandala.

I hope the film honors this form.
posted by rlk at 6:58 PM on August 17, 2016 [14 favorites]

Wouldn't that require it to be a still image?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 7:15 PM on August 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

This looks better
posted by robbyrobs at 7:21 PM on August 17, 2016

It's a great story, and I'm excited to see what Villeneuve makes of it... but please be cautious about spoilers.
posted by tclark at 7:22 PM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh cool, I was hoping this would get posted here. Now I have an excuse to tell my story.

Back in 2010 when Rhaomi did his epic Ted Chiang post, I had never heard of Ted Chiang, but I devoured every story posted and then I bought a copy of Stories of Your Life for my wife, who is a Very Serious Sci Fi fan. After she finished it (and loved it), she noticed a co-worker of hers was mentioned in the acknowledgments. This was curious to her as she is in a completely non-writing, non-creative, but science-y field and she approached her co-worker. "Yes, I know Ted, he and I did the Clarion Writer's Workshop together. In fact, we are in a book club together and you should totally join this book club, I think you'd be a great contributor and you'd really love it."

Flash forward 6 years and 75 books later...they're still friends, my wife never misses a meeting or a book, this group contains a bunch of other published authors. Ted has been over to my house a handful of times, in fact this week's book club is at his house.

He is extremely quiet, but he does type up notes from each book's discussion and emails them to everyone after the meeting.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:22 PM on August 17, 2016 [122 favorites]

Hmm. In a film about linguistics they could have made the Arabic script join up correctly (at 1.26).
posted by tavegyl at 7:23 PM on August 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

My actual goal in life is to write a story a tenth as good as Chiang's worst before I die.

This story has haunted me since I first read it. I am very, very excited about this move. My Renner moratorium is going straight out the window, though I will resume it afterwards.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:25 PM on August 17, 2016 [9 favorites]

Wait, seriously? Holy shit! I saw the logline for Arrival and thought, Man, this sounds a lot like "Story of Your Life." Too bad no-one will ever adapt it in a million years. Never ever. I anticipate no information that will overturn this opinion.
posted by Iridic at 7:49 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

My actual goal in life is to write a story a tenth as good as Chiang's worst before I die.

posted by Artw at 7:49 PM on August 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

He is extremely quiet, but he does type up notes from each book's discussion and emails them to everyone after the meeting.

My wife just said, and I quote, "The reason he's so quiet is you can tell that the gears are moving so fast in his head that he is only able to articulate a fraction of it into words others would understand."

That interview in Electric Lit was really very thoughtful and interesting. Thanks for the post.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:59 PM on August 17, 2016 [14 favorites]

My wife just said, and I quote, "The reason he's so quiet is you can tell that the gears are moving so fast in his head that he is only able to articulate a fraction of it into words others would understand."

I think she probably meant fluttery little bits of gold leaf.
posted by tavegyl at 8:03 PM on August 17, 2016 [7 favorites]

It's a good trailer. I didn't initially know what the source material was, but I got a Story of Your Life tingle because the lead seemed to be a female linguist.

Truth is I find Ted Chiang almost totally charmless. (Only story that has sucked me in is Understand, which is pretty conventional both in plot and idea.) Oh well!
posted by grobstein at 8:03 PM on August 17, 2016

Oh--I thought this was a remake of that Charlie Sheen movie about aliens, but that's THE Arrival.

So they made a movie that's not a remake? Can they do that?
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:06 PM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

From watching the trailer, I'm nervous about the film. One of the best things about the story was that it wasn't action packed, it was a quiet story about not much happening except inside the narrator's mind and heart, which was basically invisible to the outside world. I didn't think it was filmable, and I'm not sure that ratcheted up suspense as the trailer suggests will get at what's great about the original story.

Unless the trailer is a bait and switch like Eye in the Sky and the actual film is a very different beast - a film about 'aliens come to earth, leave behind some tchotchkes and a crazed linguist' probably wouldn't get much of an audience who didn't know the original story.

I loved the story when I read it as a teenager. Not sure I'll love the film.
posted by tavegyl at 8:07 PM on August 17, 2016 [8 favorites]

I am not really sold by this trailer either. So much of my intense love of the original story came from my appreciation for 1) its presentation of a truly alien culture and language system and 2) the fascinating mentality of a character who becomes capable of perceiving the full course of her life events and just... accepts it: present joy forever mixed with future pain, everything destined to be experienced simultaneously. The story struck a great balance of extremely cerebral sections interspersed with the messiness and pain of a normal human life.

If the trailer is an accurate representation of the focus of the movie (chaos and explosives and world governments going totally batshit!), then... maybe it'll still be fun to watch in a generic, sci-fi flick kind of way, but then it would not be capturing the unique appeal of the short story.
posted by the wine-dark sea at 9:15 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've seen Incendies, and I was very impressed. There are some truly outstanding, harrowing scenes of warfare and its affects on regular people in there. Villeneuve is capable of great stuff.
posted by gimonca at 9:18 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

There are a few comments on the reddit thread about the trailer from people who've said they've seen test screenings and the trailers are a little misleading: it's apparently very faithful to the story, there's no action, and the visual medium helped them get their head around some of the ideas in ways the short story didn't.

I'm looking forward to the movie!
posted by Silentgoldfish at 9:30 PM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

It's possible it'll be like "Children of Men", which somehow managed to simultaneously totally understand the source material and also completely miss the point, making for an alternating love/hate sort of watching experience.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:32 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I like how the international trailer picked different shots to establish the lead and her story.

And if anyone is really hankering for spoilers, someone who's read the screenplay broke down the the similarities and differences of the movie and the story.
posted by cendawanita at 9:47 PM on August 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Never read the story, so no comparison or concerns about how close the movie might stick to it, which seems fine to me since I don't really care about cross medium fidelity all that much anyway.

What I can see from the two trailers looks promising enough. One can see hints of some visual themes regarding image and language with the repeated use of images on screens being set against words.

Amy Adams and Forrest Whitaker as leads in a film that isn't specifically aimed at either women or minority audiences is a plus, as is the film not being based on a comic, toy, older show/movie, or other pop culture artifact. It being directed by a talented relative newcomer to Hollywood who has other interesting films already under his belt makes this look like some producers willing to take some risk to put out something they are invested in rather than just have invested in, which is always a good thing. (It also may be a test run for the likely far more expensive Blade Runner sequel Villeneuve is evidently directing as his next project.)

From what I gather, the story it's based on is fairly unusual as well, so this looks like the kind of film I'll be hoping people will go to so as to at least encourage further efforts of this kind.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:03 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am so super jazzed about this. "Story of Your Life" was the story that got me into Ted Chiang's work, and remains among my all-time favorite short stories, of any genre. I was a little leery of the Eric Heisserer screenplay (read the whole thing when it leaked as part of the 2012 Black List), but honestly the changes it makes are necessary to make the plot viable in the mass market, rather than some inaccessible arthouse flick à la Upstream Color. Not that that wouldn't be amazing, but it more likely wouldn't be finished at all if they'd attempted that approach.

(For those seeing the trailer for the first time -- good news is there are plot twists the trailer doesn't even hint at. Unfortunately they are about the most conventional aspects of this adaptation.)

Also, I'm taking this opportunity to post updated links from my 2010 post on Chiang, including links to his newer work:
Tower of Babylon (1990) - A Bronze Age laborer joins the construction of an impossibly high structure on a mission to breach the vaults of Heaven. Nebula Award (Best Novelette).

Division by Zero (1991) - A brilliant mathematician wrestles with the consequences of her earthshattering proof.

Understand (1991) [.mp3 1 2 3 4 ] - An experimental treatment bestows a regular person with superintelligence, propelling him into a dangerous series of mindgames.

Story of Your Life (1998) - A talented linguist reflects on her life as she struggles to grasp the meaning of an alien language. Nebula Award (Best Novella).

The Evolution of Human Science (2000) - Scientists despond as their mentally-augmented descendants leave them in the dust.

Seventy-Two Letters (2000) - In a world where mystical scrolls impart animating power, a shocking discovery threatens to upend society.

Hell is the Absence of God (2001) [full .mp3 ] - An unbeliever struggles with the question of faith when God is scientific fact and angels routinely visit the earth. Hugo, Locus, Nebula Awards (Best Novelette).

Liking What You See: A Documentary (2002) - A documentary examines people's reactions to a technology that allows one to see others without bias or judgment. Chiang declined a Hugo nomination.

What's Expected of Us (2006) [full .mp3] - A simple time machine undermines the concept of free will, with disastrous consequences.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate (2007) [full .mp3 ] - An ancient alchemist introduces a traveling merchant to a mysterious time-traveling gateway. Hugo, Nebula Awards (Best Novelette).

Exhalation (2009) [full .mp3 ] - A non-human scholar relates the dissection of his own brain, and the implications his discoveries hold for his curious clockwork universe. Locus, Hugo Awards (Best Short Story).

The Lifecycle of Software Objects (2010) - The relationship between people and their creations are explored in a near-future world of sentient AI.

Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny (2011) [Ctrl+F "dacey"] - Victorian social mores are explored through the efforts of a disgruntled inventor to devise a mechanical nanny.

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling (2013) - The experience of two societies separated by space and time contrasts the natures of truth, fiction, and collective memory.

The Great Silence (2015) - A heartbreaking message from the parrots of Arecibo to the builders of the great radio telescope that lies there.
You can find the first eight stories, plus extensive commentary, in the updated collection Stories of Your Life and Others (Amazon). His short story on the Automatic Nanny is available through the fantasy anthology The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:11 PM on August 17, 2016 [120 favorites]

This should be fantastic. But what I really want to see is another story, a sequel to Understand. From the point of view of the other guy. (Ted, tell me you're working on this...?) A movie probably wouldn't work, as it's been done at least twice recently and the results were not good.
posted by zardoz at 1:36 AM on August 18, 2016

The Sparrow is also about language, and aliens, and trying to interpret meaning. This trailer reminds me of it in all the best ways.

(This marks the 417th mention of The Sparrow by me in a public forum.)
posted by DigDoug at 6:44 AM on August 18, 2016 [4 favorites]

I can't wait to see this. I saw the trailer a couple days ago and was intrigued. I'm not a big novel reader, but love sci-fi and when I found out this was based on a short story I was excited (I have no attention span for longer novels and as much as I really really really want to read Dune, I know it will never happen). I've now read Story of Your Life and The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate and have been blown away.
posted by noneuclidean at 6:45 AM on August 18, 2016

(I wish I had liked The Sparrow more, DigDoug. I liked some of its ideas but could not quite seem to click with it)

The comparison at one of the links to Contact sealed it for us; that is husband's favorite movie. We have to go to this one now.

(though...though! I do sometimes wonder if an actual alien would roll their eyes or eye-equivalents to see how fearfully/solemnly we treat the idea of meeting them.)
posted by emjaybee at 6:53 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

So I saw a link to this trailer and a mention that it was based on a Ted Chiang short story. Having never read Chiang but heard his name praised repeatedly in recent years, I did a quick google and saw that Story of Your Life was available to read online. So I read the story before even watching the trailer. And I was blown away. It's wonderful and there's no way a movie can do it justice. (The trailer certainly doesn't, having watched it after finishing the story).

So now I need to read more Chiang. Any recommendations on where to start?

Alternately, based on my love for both this story and Miéville's Embassytown, any recommendations on other works that explore and play with language in weird and wonderful ways?
posted by Roommate at 7:03 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

(Belatedly noting The Sparrow recommendation by DigDoug above, will certainly check that out)
posted by Roommate at 7:04 AM on August 18, 2016

I have only read a handful of short stories by Chiang, and this post is yet again another reminder of that fact. I will be changing that soon.

With regards to the trailer, it reminds me of two recent SF novels that both tackle the subjects of language and first contact:

Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress
Aliens have landed in New York. After several months of no explanations, they finally reveal the reason for their arrival. The news is not good. Geneticist Marianne Jenner is having a career breakthrough, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Her children Elizabeth and Ryan constantly bicker, agreeing only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Her youngest, Noah, is addicted to a drug that keeps temporarily changing his identity. The Jenner family could not be further apart. But between the four of them, the course of human history will be forever altered.
Fluency by Jennifer Foehner Wells
NASA discovered the alien ship lurking in the asteroid belt in the 1960s. They kept the Target under intense surveillance for decades, letting the public believe they were exploring the solar system, while they worked feverishly to refine the technology needed to reach it. The ship itself remained silent, drifting. Dr. Jane Holloway is content documenting nearly-extinct languages and had never contemplated becoming an astronaut. But when NASA recruits her to join a team of military scientists for an expedition to the Target, it’s an adventure she can’t refuse. The ship isn’t vacant, as they presumed. A disembodied voice rumbles inside Jane’s head, "You are home." Jane fights the growing doubts of her colleagues as she attempts to decipher what the alien wants from her. As the derelict ship devolves into chaos and the crew gets cut off from their escape route, Jane must decide if she can trust the alien’s help to survive.
Both are highly recommended.
posted by Fizz at 7:54 AM on August 18, 2016 [8 favorites]

The Sparrow is also about language, and aliens, and trying to interpret meaning. This trailer reminds me of it in all the best ways.

Will note that, at least, linguistically, The Sparrow is not as interesting, at least from a typological point of view (though the field work interactions were nice).

The author there (Mary Doria Russell) also did her homework, but her languages are just not as "alien" as the one here is. For example, her aliens are described as having different shaped lips/mouths/jaws but that doesn't end up causing any difficulty for their speaking English/humans speaking their languages (even though it should, because physics). Here, we have explicit "Yeah, we can't produce their sounds and they can't make ours". Also, in the Sparrow, the extent of typological weirdness is things like "they have exclusive and inclusive we" and "they have declension classes based on evidentiality", which isn't that strange. As opposed to here where we have ALL THE CENTER EMBEDDING which all human brains just throw up their hands up at.

Still enjoyed the book, though
posted by damayanti at 8:05 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

Since no one mentioned it yet, His Master's Voice is the definitive sci-fi novel about the challenge of communicating with aliens. It is Stanislaw Lem at his best.

I'd never read any Chiang before; on the back of this trailer I'm working my way through the recently published story anthology. (Roommate, that's your place to start: Chiang has a very small ouevre.)

So far I'm liking most of the stories but they're too 50s sci-fi in "I have this one philosophical idea that I will reveal and explore for you in the next 10,000 words". Maybe I'm reading his earlier stories. What I like about them is the existential dread. He seems to write the same demons Aranofsky was exploring in Pi, only with a lot more nuance because it's writing.

It's hard for me to understand how they're going to make Story of Your Life into a movie and retain the narrative and psychological aspects of the story that make it so powerful. The US trailer linked here is sure discouraging, "we're gonna have a war with the Russkies!" is about as far from what the story is about as possible. The international trailer looks better, perhaps that is the movie we will get.
posted by Nelson at 8:06 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Metafilter: Hah, you thought your reading queue would shrink?
posted by DigDoug at 8:08 AM on August 18, 2016 [5 favorites]

Some more recommended SF first contact fiction:

Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh is a novel/series that is worth picking up.
It had been nearly five centuries since the starship Phoenix, lost in space and desperately searching for the nearest G5 star, had encountered the planet of the atevi. On this alien world, law was kept by the use of registered assassination, alliances were defined by individual loyalties not geographical borders, and war became inevitable once humans and one faction of atevi established a working relationship. It was a war that humans had no chance of winning on this planet so many light-years from home. Now, nearly two hundred years after that conflict, humanity has traded its advanced technology for peace and an island refuge that no atevi will ever visit. Then the sole human the treaty allows into atevi society is marked for an assassin's bullet. THe work of an isolated lunatic? The interests of a particular faction? Or the consequence of one human's fondness for a species which has fourteen words for betrayal and not a single word for love?
Also, Blindsight by Peter Watts
In the late 21st century, when something alien is discovered beyond the edge of the solar system, the spaceship Theseus sets out to make contact. Led by an enigmatic AI and a genetically engineered vampire, the crew includes a biologist who's more machine than human, a linguist with surgically induced multiple personality disorder, a professional soldier who's a pacifist, and Siri Keeton, a man with only half a brain. Keeton is virtually incapable of empathy, but he has a savant's ability to model and predict the actions of others without understanding them. Once the Theseus arrives at the gigantic and hideously dangerous alien artifact (which has tellingly self-named itself Rorschach), the crew must deal with beings who speak English fluently but who may, paradoxically, not even be sentient, at least as we understand the term.
posted by Fizz at 8:45 AM on August 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

Rhaomi: I am so super jazzed about this. "Story of Your Life" was the story that got me into Ted Chiang's work, and remains among my all-time favorite short stories, of any genre.

Agreed on the latter two points, totally.

As a high schooler, reading Feynman's lecture on the Principle of Least Action was an experience that lit up my brain in a wonderful way. ("Action" here has a formal definition and meaning.) I can't recommend that lecture highly enough:

"When I was in high school, my physics teacher—whose name was Mr. Bader—called me down one day after physics class and said, ‘You look bored; I want to tell you something interesting.’ Then he told me something which I found absolutely fascinating, and have, since then, always found fascinating."

But the integrals start appearing pretty quickly, so let me quote this bit which gets to the heart of the mystery:

"How does the particle find the right path? From the differential point of view, it is easy to understand. Every moment it gets an acceleration and knows only what to do at that instant. But all your instincts on cause and effect go haywire when you say that the particle decides to take the path that is going to give the minimum action. Does it ‘smell’ the neighboring paths to find out whether or not they have more action? ... Is it true that the particle doesn’t just ‘take the right path’ but that it looks at all the other possible trajectories? And if by having things in the way, we don’t let it look, that we will get an analog of diffraction? The miracle of it all is, of course, that it does just that. That’s what the laws of quantum mechanics say.

Reading Ted Chiang's story was an echo of that experience - when I figured out where he was going, it was like an electric shock to my brain. Never having met him (and I can't believe there are people in this thread that get to hang out with him!), I wonder if he was also introduced to this kind of variational principle through the same lecture...?

Anyway: my first Ted Chiang story, check. One of my all-time favorites, check. Super jazzed about it? More like nail-bitingly terrified. So much potential, but how on earth is it going to work? The trailer is a lot more militaristic than I'd like, but maybe I should take the author at his word? I feel like this is a coded hint not to get my hopes up, though:

(Talking about L.A. Confidential:) If I had read the novel first, I would have said it was impossible to adapt into a movie. But what the screenwriters did was take the protagonists of the novel and construct a completely new plot in which those characters could play the same basic roles. The resulting movie is faithful to the spirit of the novel even though it’s radically unfaithful to the text. That’s an approach that would never have occurred to me; I think I’d be too reverent of the original to adapt anything to film.

Maybe I'm too reverent of the original short story to be the target audience for this film? I hope not.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:52 AM on August 18, 2016 [6 favorites]

I will watch the hell out of this when it comes out. The trailer really made me want to read the short story, but I'll avoid it till after I've seen the movie.

When I saw who the director was, I was pretty sure it would be good; Villeneuve made Polytechnique, a beautiful narrative film about the 1989 Montreal Massacre--something I would have thought impossible before I saw it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:22 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I saw who the director was, I was pretty sure it would be good

Fair enough. I have only watched Sicario, which I thought was good but not great (a bit precious for my taste) but it certainly doesn't seem likely that Villeneuve will be making a generic Hollywood blockbuster.
posted by tavegyl at 10:33 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Reading the spoilers for the script, my skepticism has decreased and I am incredibly excited for this movie. My favorite of his is Hell is the Absence of God, but this story is perhaps my second or third favorite of his. I am worried that it may bomb at the box office, but I will be there to see it during one of the first days it is out.
posted by Hactar at 10:45 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ok, so I read the Eric Heisserer screenplay linked by Rhaomi too. I'm in tears. And yes, super jazzed. If the movie works out like that, it may do justice to the story.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:16 PM on August 18, 2016

The poster campaign is a bit Independence Day too

Not to mention a little off in its geography...

(What a weird thing to do...)
posted by thefoxgod at 2:58 PM on August 18, 2016

Yeah, sadly typical US centered ignorance. The image needed some balance so they looked for something they could add and seemed to figure, Shanghai/Hong Kong eh close enough it's big and looks exotic throw it in.

Presumably it has nothing to do with the film itself, just marketing, but it is an ugly reminder of our long history of disinterest over other cultures, to put it mildly.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:22 PM on August 18, 2016

Roommate: Alternately, based on my love for both this story and Miéville's Embassytown, any recommendations on other works that explore and play with language in weird and wonderful ways?

Have you read Delany's Babel-17? It's terrific. A space adventure & spy story built around linguistic relativism. I know Sapir-Whorf has been squashed and gets sniffed at here on the blue, but as an SF trope I find it fruitful & irresistible.

Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue books come up in this context a lot (I haven't read them, though). For a light take on language lessons with aliens, Jim Munroe's Angry Young Spaceman is great fun.

For intellectually engaging first-contact stories like Embassytown & "Story of Your Life," seconding Lem's His Master's Voice & many of his others--especially Fiasco, Solaris, & Eden, though those don't get into linguistics.
posted by miles per flower at 7:00 PM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

Aha! When I saw the trailer I pretty much immediately thought "Hey, this is a Ted Chiang story" but didn't look into it any further. Glad to see my suspicion was correct!
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:14 PM on August 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

The First Reviews of Arrival Are In and They're Out of This World (Rimshot)

All sounds very encouraging.
posted by Artw at 11:21 AM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Press conference with with Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and three of Arrival's producers at the Toronto International Film Festival.
posted by nangar at 3:52 PM on September 12, 2016

The start time for my link is messed up for some reason, and it's too late for me to go back and fix it. The press conference starts at 2:00 minutes.
posted by nangar at 4:03 PM on September 12, 2016

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