I’ll admit, I mainly sought out and purchased this book because of the praise for The Arrival (which I just saw last night and was fantastic!) and wanted to know what all the fuss was about before seeing the movie. The Stories of Your Life and Others is a collection of ten short stories by Ted Chaing. Instead of commenting on each story individually, I’m going to pick a couple of my favorites.
Story of Your Life is hard to summarize for me – I found it heartbreaking, yet also Chaing’s most humorous tale. As a mom, I could relate to Louise telling the story of her daughter and the personal moments that stood out in her memories. What was past is the future and this nonlinear, cleverly written story about aliens, a childhood, and language, is the story that most resonated with me.
I love episodes of Black Mirror; it’s a modern-day Twilight Zone. I found Liking What You See: A Documentary to be very reminiscent of both those TV shows. Liking What You See… presents a near-future where technology allows humankind to turn off the ability to feel pleasure when looking at someone attractive, referred to as calli. Meant to remove the influence of extremely beautiful models in advertisements, it also had effects on social interaction. The “documentary” covers the debate at Pembleton of whether or not to make calli a requirement. Told in little snippets from many perspectives, I found the writing style and premise clever.
Overall, there were only a few stories in the collection I truly fully enjoyed. The rest had some potential for me, but I found them too overbearing with either theology or science, or I simply wasn’t interested. Chaing is an intelligent writer, for sure, and he writes the science into his science fiction – perhaps Chaing’s writing is just more hard-core science fiction compared to my usual fare. There were times reading these stories I found myself wishing for more satisfaction and less lecture.