Ted Chiang's short stories

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Ted Chiang's short stories

Post by Hedge90 »

Ted Chiang is not a very productive writer - only having published 2 collections of short storuies in the three decades of his career -, but after finishing both of them, I can confidently say he is my favourite sci-fi short story author.
Chiang has a very special way of writing, weaving our concepts of the world into weird, almost psychedelic worlds, which nevertheless make total sense in their own context. Many of his stories deal with matters of metaphysics and philosophy of being and language, and a good number of them are positively ingenious. Here's a little selection of my absolute favourite ones, which are also metaphysically relevant in one way or another.
Tower of Babylon - In a mythic world, the Tower of Babel is being built, literally. Humanity reaches the sky-dome, and even breaks through it to hopefully meet God.
Story of your Life - A linguist is tasked with deciphering the language of an alien race that makes contact with humanity. As she starts to get closer and closer to understanding how these aliens speak - and, consequently, think - her own way of seeing reality itself transforms fundamentally. The story was adapted as the movie Arrival.
Hell is the Absence of God - In the world of this story, God, the Angels and other supernatural beings are a fact of life. They regularly reveal themselves to mankind in various manners, that are, however, entirely indecipherable and incomprehensible to us. Those who witness such revelations will go blind, get paralysed or similar, but spend the rest of their lives preaching about the inexplicable perfection of God, which awaits everyone who decides to accept it. The story is about a guy whose human life is ruined by such an Act of God, and who wrestles with the supposed benevolence of the Divine.
Omphalos - Somewhat similarly to the previous choice, this world is exactly like creationsists envision it: Earth was created 6000 years ago, and Mankind is the jewel of creation, the Omphalos. Yet, a new discovery is made, which threatens to destroy everything Man holds to know about his origin.

This is just an arbitrary selection, and I absolutely urge you to read both volumes, there are almost no fillers among them.