Book Notes – Stories of Your Life and Others, Ted Chiang

First book of the new year (week 1) was Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang.

Reviews from the book club were highly varied. Some loved it, some hated it, some had mixed feelings. I fell somewhere in the middle, giving it a solid 6.5/10.

The collection was evenly divided between stories that I thought were pretty good (Story of Your Life, Understand, Liking What you See) and others that I found pointless and plodding (Tower of Babylon, 72 Letters). They were generally strong in their world-building and premises, but weak at characterization, pacing, and giving the reader a feeling of payoff. Chiang’s stories start off strong, provoking curiosity by introducing us to interesting worlds, but they tend to sputter across the finish line, leaving me with a feeling of, “oh, so that’s it?”

This seems to be the author’s conscious choice, to eschew the standard plot beats and narrative checkboxes that we find in most western storytelling, but it doesn’t always work for me, at least not in this execution.

6.5/10, I somewhat enjoyed the book, and I’d recommendit to anyone who loves the genre, or has liked the author’s previous work.