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.

Revival by Stephen King

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A revival needing revision…  ***

 

Stephen King is a master storyteller.  He has the ability to grip you and keep you anxious to turn the page to see where a story is headed.  Unfortunately, Revival is not one of them..

The story starts out well enough, setting the expectation that this will be one of King’s gems.  Using first person narration, the main character, Jamie Morton, takes us back to his childhood and reveals how he was introduced to the Reverend Charles Jacobs. King has a way of describing childhood experiences that invoke one’s own memory of  days gone by.

Sadly, once we leave Jamie’s early years, the story begins to drift with long narrations of events that at times can only be described as boring.  There is very little conflict to keep us interested and what does exist only makes the reader want to get to the end.

The end is where I had the biggest problem.  Having several options of how to bring the story to an end, King opts for one that left me shaking my head, asking what was his point.  He attempts to make it scary but fails, philosophical but fails. I heard Stephen King  in an interview say that he writes about the things that scare him.  Based on the ending, he must be terrified of death.

As I closed the book, my first thought was, is King just getting lazy.  This had the potential of being a good story, and with another revision or two, Revival could have been another gem from the master storyteller.

This one gets three stars.