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Discover Ted Chiang before everyone else does

By / November 21, 2016 / no comments

ted-chiangIt looks like Ted Chiang is going to be the new Philip K. Dick. That is, his work is going to be the source for first rate intelligent science fiction films. The new film, Arrival, based on his short story, “Story of Your Life”, is already a big hit at cinemas around the world. But it looks like that is just the start. There could be as many as six movie adaptations of his work coming out over the next few years. Seriously, before too long, Ted Chiang could be one of the biggest names in science fiction.

Quite impressive for someone who has only actually written something like 15 stories since his debut in 1990, and none of them are longer than a novella.

So if you haven’t already caught up with one of the most powerful voices in modern science fiction, what are you waiting for? You could read everything he has ever written in a day or two, and you will be seriously better off for the experience.

Stories of Your Life and OthersThe best place to start is with his collection, Stories of your Life and Others (which has also been reissued, perhaps inevitably, under the title Arrival). For a start, this will let you get ahead of some of those potential future films, since as well as “Story of your Life”, it also includes “Understand”, a story about artificially enhanced intelligence, which is already in production, and “Hell is the Absence of God”, a story of angels and miracles and a very weird take on religion, that has also been optioned for a film. Other stories in the collection include “Seventy Two Letters”, an and alternate Victorian age in which there are actual golems, and “Tower of Babylon”, which imagines what might have happened if the Biblical Tower of Babel had actually pierced the vault of heaven. Between them, the eight stories in this collection won two Nebula Awards, a Hugo, a Locus, a Sidewise and a Sturgeon Award. There have been times when it seemed that if Ted Chiang published a story that year, then he was virtually guaranteed at least one award; he really is that good.

In addition to this collection, he has also published two stand-alone novellas.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's GateThe Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Award for Best Novelette, reads like a fantasy, though its central conceit is a time travel device. In ancient Baghdad, a merchant discovers a new shop where there is ablack arch that gives access to the future, and later learns of another arch in Cairo that gives access to the past.

The Lifecycle of Software ObjectsThe Lifecycle of Software Objects, which won both the Hugo and Locus Award  for Best Novella, and which has also been optioned for a film, covers a twenty year period during which a software engineer raises an artificial intelligence, training it rather like a child from being a digital pet until it becomes the equivalent of a human being.

There is.apparently, a new Ted Chiang collection due out in 2017. If so, that will certainly be one of the literary events of the year.

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