Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

tedchiang    Stories to make you think…..   *****

After viewing the film, Arrival, I wanted to read the short story on which it was based. This led me to discover Ted Chiang. This collection of short stories is well written, thought provoking, and in true sci-fi fashion, deals with today’s social issues in a futuristic setting.

Story of Your Life was the catalyst for the film, and as I expected, gave me a better understanding of the message buried in the movie under the “added” Hollywood touches.

Two of the short stories deal with religion. Tower of Babylon is an interesting and unique view of what it might have been like to build the tower of Babel. Hell Is the Absence of God is a theological diatribe on what it may mean to be separated from God, and as such seemed out of place in this fiction collection.

I found the most interesting story to be Liking What You See: A Documentary. The story deals with beauty and how it affects our thinking and actions. Set in a future where it is possible to turn off the ability to distinguish beauty, Chiang imagines how that would make life different.

These stories are not only entertaining but as I mentioned, are thought provoking.

This one gets five stars.

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Ex Machina

Ex Machina

 

What no Transformers or light sabres? 

 

It has been a long time since I have seen a Sci-Fi film that was as cerebral as Ex Machina2001 A Space Odyssey being the last one, without monsters, space chases, and exploding planets. Okay, so maybe Interstellar qualifies.

The irony of the quality of this film, is that the trailer makes you think it is going to be about a robot run amok. My guess is the marketing department used the scenes hinting to that theme just to get some people in the door.

The acting is superb, the story line holds up, and the direction is well done. The ending is exactly what it needed to be and any other finish would have ruined the film.

Alicia Vikander, who plays Ava, is incredible. While we mainly see her face, she communicates so much with just facial expressions that it is mesmerizing.  Domhnell Gleeson plays Caleb with the perfect amount of naivete as the one who is asked to determine if Ava is actually artificial intelligence. Oscar Isaac plays the eccentric Nathan who hires Caleb to test Ava. While his acting is good, he doesn’t fit the image of what I think of when I hear “eccentric”.

This film grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go even in the end. As the credits rolled, my first thought was, “Wow, this needs a sequel”.

This one gets five cigars and a lighter   five cigars