In this episode, we discussed Ted Chaing’s short story collection: Stories of Your Life and Others. Mr. Chiang is, to put it lightly, a rare breed of science fiction author. Perhaps this is because, before becoming a novelist, was a technical writer during the American software boom. He is one of the only sci-fi authors either of us have read who manages to successfully balance a rigorous understanding of science and technology with authorial emotional depth. We spent most of our time on two of the stories in the collection: Tower of Babylon and Story of Your Life.
Babylon is a science fiction, fantasy novelette and Chiang’s first (and towering) published work. As you might expect, the story examines the Tower of Babel myth from the Old Testament and this story won the 1991 Nebula Award for Best novelette. Story of Your Life is perhaps Chiang’s best known work, mostly because of the popularity of its film adaptation Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. For the Story of Your Life portion of the podcast, we focus our attention on the written version, and its major themes like language and free will. Enjoy!