Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Monday 19 October 2009

"Stories of your life" by Ted Chiang (Tor, 2002)

I found this at a jumble sale. I hadn't heard of the author but a glance at the "Division by Zero" story tempted me to part with 10p. According to Wikipedia he's published 11 stories in 19 years of writing (though some of those stories are novellas). Several have won awards. I think "Story of Your Life" is excellent - its use of tense, linguistics and science to support character development requires the kind of research that can't be hurried. The use of the division by zero idea is less subtle - juxtaposed sections. "Understand" will remind you of "Flowers for Algernon" but its narrative drive leads elsewhere. "Liking what you see: A Documentary" does indeed use the documentary form - a slightly too long collection of statements from students, parents and staff about a college debate. And "Hell is the absence of God" is more than just a good read.

Perhaps some pieces could be shortened. Perhaps the human-based plots are sometimes a little too mechanical to fit in with the other concepts. But I like his approach and much of the execution. 8 pages of notes!

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