The Amazing Short Stories of Ted Chiang

Our sci-fi guy, Harold, has an author recommendation for you:

If I could only recommend one science fiction author to read this year, it would be Ted Chiang. Though Chiang has written only 14 of short stories and one novella, his works have been critically acclaimed. His short story collections are Exhalation and Stories of Your Life.

Chiang has been the recipent  of four Nebula awards, four Hugo awards, and won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (for his short story, “Babylon”).  His short story, “Story of Your Life,” was the basis of the film Arrival (2016). Exhalation was a Goodreads Choice Award in 2019. The New York Times named Exhalation one of the 10 Best Books of 2019. That’s a lot of awards that are, in my opinion, well deserved!

Chiang’s works are hard to describe since they are not conventional science fiction, per se. It’s a subtle distinction, but they are more fiction based on science than science fiction. President Obama, via Facebook, said that they are “a collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.”

These are precisely articulated, well-crafted and thought-provoking stories. There are no rocket ships or cosmic battles. Instead, they expand upon and extend science, and technology that exists today. Two of my favorites from Exhalation are “Babylon”, a re-work of the Tower of Babel story, and “Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”,  about a merchant in ancient Persia who can travel through time to correct past mistakes.

Exhalation  and Stories of Your Life are available at the Cheshire Public Library as printed books.  Exhalation is also available as an ebook, and Stories of Your Life is also available as a downloadable audiobook. They are well worth reading. The film, Arrival, based on Chang’s “Story of Your Life”, is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Another Literary Loss; Saying Goodbye to Terry Pratchett

pratchett2Fantasy writer Terry Pratchett, creator of the Discworld series and author of more than 70 books, died on March 12 2015. He was 66 and suffered from a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Pratchett was best known for Discworld, a series of more than 40 comic novels set in a teeming fantasy world. He has sold more than 65 million books worldwide, and his novels have pratchettcolorofbeen translated into several dozen languages. Pratchett was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998 and was knighted for services to literature in the 2009 New Year Honours.

Lets remember this wonderful author by reading (or rereading) some of our favorite books from Terry Pratchett. Here is a list of some of my favorite titles to get your started.

The Color of Magic: the First Discworld Novel pratchettdodger
A slightly disorganized and somewhat naive interplanetary tourist named Twosome joins up with a bumbling wizard and embarks on a chaotic voyage through a world filled withmonsters and dragons, heroes and knaves.

In an alternative version of Victorian London, a seventeen-year-old Dodger, a street urchin, rises in life when he saves a mysterious girl, meets Charles Dickens, and unintentionally puts a stop to the murders of Sweeny Todd.pratchettomens

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The world is going to end next Saturday, but there are a few problems–the Antichrist has been misplaced, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride motorcycles, and the representatives from heaven and hell decide that they like the human race.

pratchettsnuffSnuff: a Novel of Discworld 
Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch attempts to take a vacation, but, as usual, nothing goes as planned.

After a tsunami destroys all that they have ever known, Mau, an island boy, and Daphne, an aristocratic English girl, together with a small band of refugees, set about rebuilding their community and the things that matter to them.PRATCHETTSCIENCE

The Science of Discworld by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen
The wizards of Discworld accidentally create a new universe, the one which houses Earth, and proceed to explain the science of this place, interweaving fantasy chapters with those that explain actual scientific principles.

More great books include: I Shall Wear MidnightOnly You Can save MankindThe Carpet PeopleThe long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, Thud!: a Novel of DiscworldThe Wee Free MenWintersmithThe Amazing Maurice and His Educated RodentsThief of Time: a Novel of DiscworldThe Carpet PeopleA Hat Full of SkyThe Fifth Elephant, and Going Postal: a Novel of Discworld.

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