19 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Story of Your LifeStory of Your Life by Ted Chiang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dr. Louise Banks is enlisted by the military to communicate with a race of radially symmetrical aliens who initiated first contact with humanity. Woven through the story are remembrances of her daughter.

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Upon realizing that the upcoming movie Arrival is an adaptation of this story, I thought that I'd have a peek. This is a good hard sci-fi story, albeit a rather mind-bending one (for me anyway) that follows linguist Dr. Louise Banks who has been brought in by the military to attempt communication with a race of seven-limbed symmetrical aliens who have arrived on Earth at various points around the globe. What follows is certainly an interesting tale as Banks and others endeavor to learn about the aliens and their intentions. She eventually becomes quite familiar with their language forms, one of which is totally non-verbal and communicated via complex 'symbols', and from this she ends up receiving understanding of a whole new level of communication which is described by the numerous 'flashbacks' (or 'flashforwards') throughout the story. It took me some time to cotton onto what was happening and the fullness of what she was really learning from the aliens, and the whole thing makes much more sense once I did. Not a particularly exciting or tense story (as depicted in the Arrival movie trailer) but interesting nonetheless, and quite typical of Chiang's rather intellectual style. Not really my flavour but very, very well written and the author shows here what a class act he really is.

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