Chiang, Ted- Stories of Your Life and Others
Sometimes when I'm scrolling down a social media feed or watching a guilty pleasure, I'll feel so dumbed-down at the end that I think, "well, that subtracted an IQ point." This is a problem because I don't have so many to spare. But, very rarely, a book like this one comes along, so smart and challenging, that I feel like I picked up a point by osmosis.
I first read this book after the movie Arrival came out because I wanted to read the story it was based on. I didn't expect them to be very similar but I was curious. I do like that story, but I was blown away by some of the others. Knowing how the stories would end this time, they were still so mesmerizing. I even read it when I was sick with Covid and felt like half my brain was shut off. I'd thought when I got sick that I'd have to save the book for later, but it has so much brains that it lent me some. That's how smart this book is.
As with the first time I read it, my favorite is "Understand," in which a man who has had an experimental drug to rectify brain damage becomes so super-smart that he becomes barely understandable (to me at least) by the end- but I could still follow the story perfectly well. Then in, "Division by Zero," even though I can barely add, I could understand a story about a mathematician. I didn't know what she was talking about half the time, but you don't have to understand the math to understand the story. It's incredible. Even though I was reading some stuff that went over my head, it made me feel smarter.
I liked the last story better this time. It's so prescient that I wonder if the author has been seriously wigged about by all the AI progress of the last year. The title is "Liking What You See: A Documentary." It's very long and it would be nearly impossible to summarize it well, I think, but the parts that kept jolting me (how did he know?) were comments characters made about advertising, deep fakes (they didn't call them that, but still), and people getting bent out of shape about woke students. (They didn't call it woke, but still.) The story is from 2002, and it just blew my mind.
I really want to read Exhalation soon. I've meant to check it out more than once, but it goes out of the library pretty often. I'll catch it one of these days. I'm really looking forward to it. Then, I'll see what else I can get my hands on from this author.
I am so tired of being tired. I wrote this little post about two weeks ago, and am just now getting around to proofing and making my dinky little graphic. I didn't even have a terrible bout of Covid, but I didn't really feel properly well for weeks, and then I still had insomnia slowing me down. I actually slept two nights in a row, so fingers crossed, I'm going to start catching up.