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Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang is a compilation of short stories, including but not limited to the short story that inspired the recent movie "Arrival" with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. Each story has it's own unique life that differs so much from the piece preceding it, yet they all flow together in a fascinating river of untapped science fiction storytelling. Each piece seems, at first glance, to be a reiteration of a well-known sci-fi storyline. For example, the events of "Stories of Your Life" surround one of the many alien spaceships that are being studied, and the various attempts at first-degree contact with the extraterrestrials. This may sound like a trite topic, but Chiang restores it's luster by turning it into a memoir of the lead linguist's life (Amy Adams' character in the movie) with the actual science fiction aspects on the outskirts.

The tower of Babel, brain-enhancing drugs, aliens, the possession of inanimate objects, metahumans, heaven, hell, and the roots of human nature are all addressed within the eight short stories in this collection, and all eight become something pleasantly unfamiliarized. Ted Chiang's writing is absolutely beautiful; it never ceased to suck all of my attention away from the rest of the world. From the first page, I could not pull myself away, and by the end of the first story, my mind exploded. (not literally, but metaphorically, in the way where a mental battle between "why didn't I think of that" and "that is absolutely brilliant/ I never saw that coming" breaks out). Not only that, but every story here lives up to the same standard. I was thoroughly impressed over and over again, and have no doubt in my mind that upon a second read, I would find myself impressed again.

For all of you readers unsure about entering the vast science fiction/ fantasy genre, do not feel overwhelmed by the mass amounts of supernatural creatures and made up worlds. Though classified as a science fiction collection, Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang stays settled enough in both the realistic world and that of scientific anomalies, without either overwhelming the other. If you are interested in bite-sized portions of strong characters, vibrant plot, and excellent writing, then, regardless of the unearthly topics, this book is a must read. For those of you interested in this already, get ready for a refurbished alternative genre like you've never read before.

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