I just added a new page called Highly Recommended. This is the first item I’m putting there.
In 1999, Gardner Dozois published the Sixteenth volume of his Year’s Best Science Fiction. I bought a digital copy for Handspring Visor from Peanut Press (now eReader) and started reading. Included in that volume was “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, a story that affected me so much that it renewed my interest in short fiction. In first-person prose that refers to past and future as if it were all present, a woman tells the story of her daughter’s life while at the same time telling a fascinating story of attempts to unravel an alien language. How it converges is breathtaking.
A good Chiang story (and they are all good, as I found out) mixes the intensely personal with exciting science and philosophy. Stories of Your Life and Others includes all the fiction Ted Chiang wrote through 2002. Standouts other than the story I already mentioned: “Tower of Babylon” (building a tower to find God), “Understand” (a story that reminded me of “Flowers for Algernon” by Keyes), and “Hell is the Absence of God” (in which religious things are easily seen, yet a man struggles with faith).
I’ve heard so many times the refrain “I just don’t get into short fiction”, and that makes me sad because if you don’t read short fiction, you don’t read these incredible stories. I urge you to read Ted Chiang. Anything by Ted Chiang. It’s all gold.
Table of Contents:
“Tower of Babylon” • (1990) • novelette
“Understand” • (1991) • novelette
“Division by Zero” • (1991) • short story
“Story of Your Life” • (1998) • novella
“Seventy-Two Letters” • (2000) • novella
“The Evolution of Human Science” • (2000) • short story
“Hell Is the Absence of God” • (2001) • novelette
“Liking What You See: A Documentary” • (2002) • short story