Stories of Your Life…and Others by Ted Chiang
Interesting stories that focused on the theme of gods and science that were overshadowed by the author’s notes at the end.
(yes you read that right)
Synopsis from GoodReads:
What if men built a tower from Earth to Heaven-and broke through to Heaven’s other side? What if we discovered that the fundamentals of mathematics were arbitrary and inconsistent? What if there were a science of naming things that calls life into being from inanimate matter? What if exposure to an alien language forever changed our perception of time? What if all the beliefs of fundamentalist Christianity were literally true, and the sight of sinners being swallowed into fiery pits were a routine event on city streets? These are the kinds of outrageous questions posed by the stories of Ted Chiang. Stories of your life . . . and others.
Chiang’s stories pose very interesting questions and focus on the connection – or lack thereof – between science and religion. His knowledge of both sides is very impressive and the theological and philosophical discussions you can have on his work are delightful to a geek like me.
But. I had a hard time finding any ‘heart’ in his stories. There was a lot packed in but none of it really touched me emotionally, just logically.
In fact, the only place I really found passion was in the author’s notes collected at the end of the volume. After the short stories, Chiang provides a couple paragraphs or so on each story in the collection. I found those notes far more evocative emotionally than any of the stories in the prior 200-and-some pages.
I appreciated the notes not just for the heart within them but for the way they gave insight into what inspired each story. They helped further separate the stories when they started to blur, thematically speaking. Because while all of the stories concerned religion and science (and humanity), they all came at it in a slightly different way – even if members of my book club (this was our May read) felt that they all ultimately said the same thing.
3 out of 5 stars – nothing amazing in here, but certainly a (to me) fresh look at some of the questions about how science and religion intersect. And if you read this – make sure to read the author’s notes!