I read Exhalation in 2019, and I have no idea why it took me so long to pick up Stories of Your Life and Others. I’d also seen Arrival, making it even more surprising that I didn’t read this collection sooner.
Ted Chaing has such a mastery over the short story. It seems rare to me, a speculative/science fiction writer who is at their best when they are at their most concise. But Chaing’s stories are so dense, full of original ideas, filled with narrative beats and strong character development.
My favorite story in this volume is the first, Tower of Babylon. Just like many of Chiang’s stories, its conceit is based on taking something not meant to be literal and taking it literally. From there, it builds up a relatable, sympathetic character, despite the absurdity of the world around them. And while the ending isn’t quite as much a shock to the system that Stories of Your Life gives, it left me extremely content.