As noted in my sidebar, I’ve finished Ted Chiang’s book of short stories, and here’s what I posted in the way of a review over All Consuming. As for the next book, I’m still (as always) reading a few at once, but the one I’m focused on now is Bester’s The Stars My Destination and it’s such a quick read I’ll probably stick with it till the end.
The book isn’t scary, what’s scary is how well-written it is. One of my teachers said that these are simply some of the best stories written in the SF genre, and she’s right.
When I met Ted at a couple of parties in Seattle, he seemed really, I don’t know, unassuming, unimposing, just a regular Joe. But man, reading these stories opened my eyes. I’d read “Liking What You See: A Documentary? before, but not known it was written by the guy I was talking to at the party. I really didn’t know who he was. Which was kind of cool, because we just, you know, chatted. I’m kind of glad I wasn’t all fanboyish.
Anyway, this is the part of the review where I usually start mentioning which stories were my favorites, but the fact is, they’re all, every one of them, outstanding. They all blew me away. These stories made me laugh out loud the way Rucker and Sterling do at their best, made my jaw drop the way it does when I read Greg Egan (but mostly without the crazy maths), and out-___punked every other punkism there is—Babylonian-punk, steampunk, ribofunk. He even gets in a story that outstrips James Morrow’s religious satire. Everything he writes about, he approaches with a frighteningly methodical, downright scientific mindset, and this means his ideas get taken apart and examined so closely that you start to wonder how it ever was that you liked SF stories that weren’t, at their core, about ideas like these. He’s certainly woken me up to the fact that I should be doing more thinking, and more exploring of scientific ideas, in my own writing. That in good SF, ideas are the adventure.
I recommend these stories very highly.