“Story of Your Life” – “Arrival”.


Sometimes I read a book, or a short story & I think, this is a wondrous tale & it must be made into a film.

Story of Your Life” is a science fiction novella by Chinese/American writer Ted Chiang, first published in Starlight 2 in 1998, and in 2002 in Chiang’s collection of short stories, Stories of Your Life and Others. The major themes explored by this tale are language and time.

“Stories of Your Life and Others” is a collection of short stories by Ted Chiang,originally published in 2002 by Tor Books. It collects Chiang’s first eight stories. All of the stories except “Liking What You See: A Documentary” were previously published individually elsewhere.

stories of your life
stories of your life

“Story of Your Life” is narrated by linguist Dr. Louise Banks the day her daughter is conceived. Addressed to her daughter, the story alternates between recounting the past: the coming of the aliens and the deciphering of their language; & remembering the future.Critic John Clute nailed it “Chiang’s writing has a tight-hewn and lucid style which has a magnetic effect on the reader“.

I never thought this could ever be made into a film, let alone a great film, but here it is:


(from The Guardian Friday 11 November 2016). “But why stop here, Hollywood? Chiang’s 2002 short story, Hell Is the Absence of God is a restrained, brilliant demolition of fundamentalist religious belief that explores the possibilities of a reality where biblical angels roam suburbia. The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, which scooped both the Hugo and Nebula awards, is a Silk Road fantasy about a simple merchant who stumbles upon a gateway to the future in the market place of old Baghdad. The Life Cycle of Software Objects traces the accidental emergence and evolution of artificial intelligence. A tech startup develops learning algorithms as virtual pets, and two engineers find themselves looking after these software objects over the decades that follow. Chiang’s real interest is less with AI, than with life as a whole – perhaps rare for an author in the SF genre. If there is a single recurrent theme in Ted Chiang’s work, it’s the attempt to square the circle between human fantasies of belief, and the perceived certainties of a rational, scientific worldview. There’s a strong sense in Chiang’s work that he sees conflicts of faith v reason, or freedom v determinism, as illusionary. That if we can simply see clearly enough, all conflicts give way to harmony. Chiang’s rigour and logic take him to a point of mysticism.
Ted Chiang is all the more conspicuous for his absence from all forms of authorial self-promotion. There is no Ted Chiang Twitter feed issuing entertaining quips on pop culture. His work has been published almost exclusively in limited runs through the small press, with the text often released free online. It is tempting to wonder why: perhaps the status games of writerly life as are illusory to Chiang as the boundaries between space and time. Or, perhaps, he’s simply busy doing what he does best – writing great stories”.


Ted Chiang (Wikipedia).

The Fiction of Ted Chiang (Economist).

Free Speculative Fiction Online – Ted Chiang

And many others.


The Guardian, The Economist, Wikipedia, Goodreads.