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Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang(1967- )
Ted Chiang has a computer science degree from Brown University and works as a technical writer in the software industry. Chiang has won multiple awards for his short stories and novellas including multiple Nebula, Hugo, and Locus Awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1992) the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, the Sidewise Award, a British Science Fiction Association Award. Ted Chiang lives near Seattle, Washington.

Stories of Your Life and Others: Eight carefully crafted stories

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Reposting to include Stuart's new review.

Stories of Your Life: And Others by Ted Chiang

In his review of Ted Chiang’s brilliant short story collection Stories of Your Life and Others (2002) in The Guardian, China Miéville mentions the “humane intelligence [...] that makes us experience each story with immediacy and Chiang’s calm passion.” The oxymoron “calm passion” is an insightful and ingenious way to describe these stories because of the way it hints at their deft melding of the most solid of hard science fiction concepts with an often surpris... Read More

The Lifecycle of Software Objects: Not long enough

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The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang

Ted Chiang is one of my favorite writers. He only writes one short story, novelet or novella a year, it seems, but every one is a masterwork. A year in which Chiang’s name does not appear on every award ballot means that he’s skipped writing for a year. (If you haven’t yet read Stories of Your Life and Others, I strongly urge you to do so at once. This is what brilliance looks like.)

In The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Chiang posits that humans have developed a software program that gives buyers a pet — one that never requires walking in the rain and doesn’t cry to be held the way a baby would. But the program requires a significant investment of time and energy, as this software has the ability to learn. Each digient, as these creatures are called, develops i... Read More

Magazine Monday: Beautiful Steampunk

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“The Melusine (1898)” by Caitlin R. Kiernan is this week’s offering by Subterranean Online. It is a wonderful story, written with an unearthly beauty. Kiernan imagines a steampunk circus that comes to town advertising its name in letters five-stories high, “shaped from out of nothing but the billowing clouds of red dust raised by those rolling broad steel and vulcanized rims." The circus is made of automaton mastodonts and living elephants, and no one can tell if the acrobats are mechanical or real. It promises miracles.

Cala Monroe Weatherall is “a learned woman of industry and science” who comes to the circus in answer to a secret cry, “a dream so vivid and bizarre that she might almost name it a nightmare.” She ha... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nebula-Nominated Novellas

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I’ve always thought that the novella was a perfect length for short science fiction or fantasy, because it gives an author space enough to build a complete world and form characters who live and breathe in the reader’s imagination. You need more room to do this in these genres than in mainstream literature, where an author can assume that the reader is at home in the world of his characters. Yet a novella is also short enough to be read in a single sitting – a perfect lunchtime read, for instance – and a reader can take in an author’s entire milieu and ideas in one gulp. Where copies of the novellas are available online for those who wish to read them, I have linked them so that you can have as good a week of lunches this week as I had last.

There are six novellas nominated for the Nebula this year. They are all of exceptionally high quality, and the variety is enormous, so much so that comparison of one to another se... Read More

Magazine Monday: Subterranean Magazine, Fall 2013

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The Fall 2013 issue of Subterranean Magazine is a delight to read. The stories are challenging and imaginative, full of discovery, provocation and excellent writing.

The issue opens with “Doctor Helios,” a long novella by Lewis Shiner. It’s a Cold War espionage novel, reminiscent more of Ian Fleming than of John le Carré, set in Egypt in 1963 as the Aswan Dam is being built. Our hero is John York, apparently a member of the CIA, who has been tasked with ensuring that the dam does not succeed. President Kennedy may want to develop a new relationship with President Nasser of Egypt after years of tension following Nasser’s overthrow of the monarchy and nationalization of the Suez Canal Company, but the CIA thinks he’s a communist and wants his grandest project to fail. York has the same touch with the... Read More

SFM: Hodge, Chiang, Vaughn, Ryman, Simmons

Short Fiction Monday: There is so much free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet these days. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 


“More Full of Weeping Than You Can Understand” by Rosamund Hodge (2010, free at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 99c Kindle magazine issue)

Violet always knew she was different: she's unable to feel deep concern or love for others, whether it was her kitten that died or her Grandmama. So she isn’t too surprised when a tall pale woman with huge butterfly wings appears to her and tel... Read More

SFM: Gladstone, Chiang, Bolander, Johnston, Swanwick, Vaughn

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly sampling of free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are some great stories that caught our eyes this week:



“A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone (2014, free at Tor.com, 99c Kindle Version)

Within the first two paragraphs “A Kiss With Teeth” has outlined an unusual premise: a vampire masquerades as human in order to be an ordinary husband and father. He isn’t blending in to feast on blood or evade capture, but simply to give his wife... Read More

SFM: Chiang, Liu, Sanderson, Kinney, Seybold

Short Fiction Monday: Our weekly exploration of free or inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. 


“Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang (1998, originally anthologized in Starlight 2, reprinted in Stories of Your Life and Others). 2000 Nebula award winner (novella) and 1999 Sturgeon award winner.

Being more of a fantasy lover than a sci-fi fan, I still hadn’t read the short-story superstar Ted Chiang. Keen to see what I’ve been missing, and possibly throwing myself in at the deep end, I read “Story of Your Life.” Boy,... Read More

Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology

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Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology  edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel

Is there really any difference between post-modernism, interstitial fiction, slipstream and New Weird? Does anyone know? James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel try to outline the boundaries of slipstream with their anthology, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, particularly by including a learned introduction and excerpts from a discussion that took place on the subject on a blog a few years ago. Ultimately, like so many things literary, from science fiction to erotica, it comes down to this: slipstream is what I’m pointing to when I say “slipstream.” Yes, ... Read More

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2007

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The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007

In many ways, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 anthology is a difficult book to review. For one thing, to me and a lot of my reading/writing circle, this is easily the definitive bible when it comes to short stories of the genre. For another, many of the stories that are included in this collection have been featured in other anthologies as well, so there's an overlap in terms of stories featured. But I'll try and talk about what makes this anthology unique from other similar anthologies.

The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror is quite comprehensive about its subject matter, not just featuring short stories but poems and articles. The first dozen pages are articles summarizing the important events that happened in the two genres including the obituaries of the previous year. That’s really qui... Read More

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two

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The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two edited by Jonathan Strahan

The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two is one of several anthologies that collects the best science fiction and fantasy of 2007. I've read many of the stories included, yet revisiting them actually made me appreciate them more rather than feel exhausted. One thing I noticed is that there's a stronger science fiction balance in this anthology compared to the previous volume, although that might also be because the lines between science fiction and fantasy easily get blurry.

The opening piece, Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and The Alchemist's Gate," is a good example. This is easily my favorite story and arguably Chiang's most accessible piece. The physics of time travel is narrated with an ... Read More

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2008

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The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008

For me, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 has been a two-headed beast. On one hand, it's an eagerly anticipated book by people involved in the industry, usually for the summation at the front of the book and the honorable mentions list at the back. The various editors are quite thorough and detailed when it comes to this part. The other aspect is, of course, the story/poetry selection, which is what will likely attract the casual reader.

So, how does it actually fare? Well, with regards to the first aspect, there are no disappointments. When covering the highlights of the previous year (and alas, the obituaries) and the various media (comics, movies, and music) in which either fantasy or horror plays a part, the book has it covered. The writing is functional and achieves what it sets out to do.

With re... Read More

Steampunk: Quick entertaining education on the subgenre du jour

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Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer

Steampunk is an anthology of, well, steampunk stories, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. If you hurry, you can still get to this first anthology before the second one, Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded, appears in mid November. Based on the quality of the stories in this collection, I heartily recommend checking it out, especially if you’ve been a bit bemused (or possibly amused) by all the people wearing odd Victorian costumes at SFF conventions nowadays, or if you have at best a vague idea of what steampunk exactly entails. If you’re one of those people who’s interested in, but not entirely sure about, the new hot subgenre du jour (like me, prior to reading Steampunk), this anthology is here to take you by the hand and give you a quick, entertaining educatio... Read More

Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy: “Best” sets the bar high and these stories clear it

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Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 edited by Karen Joy Fowler & John Joseph Adams

Karen Joy Fowler is the guest editor of the Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016. This is the second book in the annual series, which John Joseph Adams conceived of, and he still plays a large role in the selection process.

It is worth reading both Adams’ and Fowler’s introductions. Fowler’s is brilliant because she talks about the world, fiction, fantasy and language. Adam’s is instructive. He walks us through the selection process. This is where I discovered that the title, “best of science fiction and fantasy” is quite literal. It’s not “science fiction/fantasy” or “science fantasy” or “science fiction or fantasy.” The book c... Read More