If I thought 2019 was sort of a blah year, enters 2020. I still don’t know how much this year will change the life as we know yet but I thing is certain, that nothing is certain.
Still over last 5 weeks, in all adversity and anxiety, I have done things that keeps me happy, one of them is reading. For me, Stay at home is not really a problem because over the years I have developed more introvert and found peace in activities like reading, writing, cooking and watching sports.
Today, i wanted to share my ( train of ) thoughts on one of the most interesting book I have read in this period.
Ted Chiang is most known for his fantastic story called “Stories of Your Life” that was adapted in the film ” Arrival”(rated 7.9/10 in IMDB) staring Amy Adams. Arrival was one of my favorite movie in the genre and I liked how the movie discussed the complex issue so effectively. Amy’s character was so intense and the direction was so on the spot. If you have not watched Arrival, you must watch it immediately.
When I learned that Ted Chiang had released his latest collection, I knew that I must read it and it also reminded me of other collection of Sci-fi Short stories that I absolutely loved last year called The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu. Before The Paper Menagerie, I have not read much of short stories in Sci-fi space. Some of the stories were so amazing that I had tears in my eyes when it ended. I realized when I read it that most important part in good writing in Sci-fi is nailing the human emotions right. When you put human in an unknown territory that is often oscillated in Science fiction, the emotions are the only constant that keeps the story and characters in check. Another thing which was brilliant about the book was that most of the characters and stories were based in Asia. Most of the scifi that I had consumed earlier were only limited to USA, so that was a good change of pace. I rated it 5 out 5 stars on goodreads.
Coming back to Exhalation, the book welcomes you with its first story based in Ancient Arab- story of time travelling merchant who help people to time travel and learn from their experience. My immediate reaction was- what a fun way to add time travel in Arabian nights setting, as it had stories within the story. It connects the characters with Quran and ethical dilemma they encounter while time travelling. Other stories include virtual pets empowered by Artificial Intelligence, and the story Exhalation which is about reality and humanity’s relation with technology. These stories are original and intelligent and like Ken Liu, Ted gets the human emotions right in his speculative worlds.
Ted Chiang is a technical writer in the software company and it takes a lot of time between his two books. So, it is better to look back at his previous work and read them, than to anticipate and wait for his next one.
I rated Exhalation by Ted Chiang 4/5 stars in the goodreads.