The e-book version that I got from my library was actually titled Arrival, with the note that it had been previously published as Stories of Your Life, and I got it because I wanted to read the story that the movie Arrival was based on, so I’ll start with that one. It’s titled “Story of Your Life,” and it’s good. I think the movie is better, which I don’t usually think, but I also don’t usually see the movie before reading the book. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, so all I’ll say is that there are scenes in the movie that appear to be flashbacks but aren’t what they seem, and I wanted to see how the author handled that. It was interesting to read, and although there were clear, sometimes significant, differences between the movie and short story, they correspond well enough.
“Short” story might be pushing it. Some of these go up to 40 or 50 pages, although there’s a really short one that’s only a few pages. Most of them center around science, math, technology, and discovery, and most of them contain science fiction or fantasy elements, though sometimes in fairly subtle form. For example, in one of them you can tell that that our society has access to more advanced technology than we currently do, but it doesn’t seem to be an extreme advancement. In that one there are some people who develop super intelligence after a certain hormone shot. The really short story, although unrelated, basically talks about what would happen to scientific research if more people had super intelligence and there were a distinction between regular humans and “metahumans.”
A couple stories seemed warmer in a way, more about people than plot or technology, such as one about a man learning to love G-d. It’s set in a place where angel visitations are regular occurrences that result in both miracle cures and in casualties, and where those who are around to witness someone’s death can see whether the soul of the deceased has ascended to heaven or descended to hell.
I enjoyed reading all but one of the stories, which I disliked enough that I didn’t finish it, although I’m sure that was about my own taste and not the writing itself. I’m not likely to read this book again, partly because I don’t generally care for anthologies, and like I said I disliked one of the stories, but I would give this a solid 3 stars.