Sorry, but I can't find "Story of Your Life"
September 2, 2006 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Here are four stories by the great Ted Chiang.
posted by Iridic (15 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
His mention in this thread reminded me of his work, some of which I found on the indispensable Free Speculative Fiction Online site.
posted by Iridic at 11:30 AM on September 2, 2006

Why the "flowersforalgernon" tag?
posted by cgc373 at 11:58 AM on September 2, 2006

I've always read "Understand" as an attempt to take the intelligence augmentation in Flowers for Algernon to its ultimate conclusion.
posted by Iridic at 12:47 PM on September 2, 2006

Ted Chiang is amazing. I suggest buying the book. Well worth it, I think I've bought and given away three copies already, at least.
posted by absalom at 5:33 PM on September 2, 2006

Fantastic fiction, incredible imagination. Not so hot on the characterisation, but that's really besides the point.
posted by adrianhon at 5:45 PM on September 2, 2006

Understand does have shades of Flowers for Algernon. My one beef with it (okay, my main beef) is that it has an extremely mechanistic take on thought and humanity. Even if you do get to the point where you could see "everything", everything isn't an equation. Also, maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I'd hope that someone with that level of "enlightenment" would have a spiritual awakening as well. I'm not hung up on religion, but it equally irks me that many in the sci-fi field seem particularly antagonistic to the spiritual and cling (one might say, religiously) to science as an answer to everything. Which, in my opinion, explains the popularity of cryogenics. It's reincarnation for people who don't believe in reincarnation.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:01 PM on September 2, 2006

Really enjoyed 72 Letters. Heading on for more. WORK BE DAMNED!
posted by Samizdata at 7:25 PM on September 2, 2006

I have never heard of Ted Chiang, but I find it incredibly difficult to break away from "Understand." Damn you Metafilter and Iridic! (And thank you).
posted by ifranzen at 8:03 PM on September 2, 2006

His novel length anthology, _Stories of your life (And others)_ is amazing. As I said above, I recommend it to anyone who liked these stories.
posted by absalom at 8:18 PM on September 2, 2006

Ted Chiang's work reminds me very strongly of Greg Egan's, although the subject matter differs a fair bit. If you liked what you read of Chiang, seek out some of Egan's short work too.
posted by kindall at 10:35 PM on September 2, 2006

>seem particularly antagonistic to the spiritual

What do you expect them to write really? Hard-ish sci-fi is grounded in more than a wee bit of science. For the protagonist to just suddenly see things like in the movie "Ghost" seems silly and counterproductive in a sci-fi story. Its aribitrary and will ruin the suspension of disbelief a good story produces. There's no shortage of this stuff in every other genre. Scifi is probably the only place where the mechanical view of the world isn't there to shock and scare the reader. Or a story where the atheist or agnostic character isn't the villian.

FWIW, there's no shortage of newagey/magical sci-fi stories from the 70s or so that dealt a lot with things like energy and mysterious powers.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:20 PM on September 2, 2006

Not to mention, in Star Wars, as Luke's awareness expands the more philosophical, arcane, and paranormal his statements and actions become. I wouldnt exactly call sci-fi writers and fans antagonistic to the spiritual.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:28 PM on September 2, 2006

Okay, okay, okay. I'm so psyched, I get to use my Ted Chiang story.

I was at a party a little while ago where I "met some very nice people and had some very nice drinks". I ended up in the back yard with the two friends who had invited us, my wife and a couple people I didn't know.

I happened to be on one of those rolls you get where you've had just enough to drink, an amusing story to tell, and a small audience. Without patting myself on the back too much, I told a very funny story and told it well. I walked out that night thinking of myself quite highly. Later I asked about one of the people at the table who seemed quite nice. My friends (who write themselves) said "Oh, that was Ted, he's a complete stud, go read all his stuff." So I did.

Suffice to say that if I had known what came out of that guy's brain, I would have sat in shocked silence and maybe poked him a couple times to see if he was real. I got the same feeling reading his stuff I did the first time I was in high school and read James Tiptree Jr. And I don't make that comparison lightly.

There's no real point to this story, it just kind of cracks me up, and I saw a chance to share it. Anyway, he's a hell of a nice guy besides being a frigging genius.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:18 AM on September 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

There will be a new Ted Chiang story in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction next year, or so the assistant editor JJA has posted on his blog. I highly recommend subscribing in anticipation.
posted by JeremyT at 8:54 PM on September 3, 2006

I take back my pronouncement as to when the story will publish. JJA did announce that they acquired a new story from him, but didn't know when it would run. Hopefully soon!
posted by JeremyT at 8:57 PM on September 3, 2006

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