你一生的故事 | Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

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你一生的故事 | Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others is a collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories and novellas by American author Ted Chiang, The book includes Chiang’s first eight stories, seven of which were previously published before the collection was released. Chiang, a highly acclaimed author, has received four Nebula Awards, four Hugos, four Locus Awards, and multiple James Tiptree Jr. Awards.

The first story in the collection, “Tower of Babylon” is a reinterpretation of the Biblical story about the Tower of Babel, which was constructed for ordinary people to reach Heaven. In the story, main character Hillalum is part of a crew that has been hired to dig through the Vault of Heaven, a structure meant to separate Heaven from Earth, in order to find the creations of Yahweh. Only Hillalum makes it through, and he continues climbing toward Heaven only to eventually find himself back on the ground, far away from the Tower.

In the second story, “Understand,” the main character suffers from brain damage caused by lack of oxygen to his brain when he nearly drowns. To heal the damage, he is given an experimental drug to regenerate his brain tissue. The drug works better than anticipated, and the man finds that his neurons keep regenerating, making him significantly more intelligent and capable than he ever had been before. As he becomes smarter and smarter, his life becomes chaotic as he is pursued by government agencies, finding himself in conflict with another super-smart and similarly altered human test subject.

“Division by Zero,” follows Renee, a mathematician and professor who proves that basic arithmetic is consistent, and, thus, null and void. As someone for whom math has been the greatest truth, Renee, deeply disturbed by her discovery, begins to find life meaningless. Her husband, Carl, is initially sympathetic, becomes increasingly impatient with Renee and she dives deeper into her existential crisis. Renee eventually tries to commit suicide, which Carl stops, and the story ends with the couple in the psych ward, as Renee tries to explain her struggle to Carl, and he realizes that he does not love her anymore.

The title story of the collection falls in the middle – it is a novella narrated by linguist Louise Banks, who is telling a story to her unborn daughter on the day that she is conceived about both the strange past and the unpredictable future that will lead to her daughter’s untimely death. The book’s premise is that an alien invasion has caused Dr. Banks to understand language in a way that allows her to know the future – a gift that she received from the aliens who had come to earth to warn humans about their untimely demise. This ability to know the future disturbs and troubles Banks, becoming the basis for the rest of the story.

Other stories follow, including “Seventy-Two Letters” and the “Evolution of Human Science” which deal with themes similar to the stories above about the limits of human knowledge and the often troubling aftermath of scientific, philosophical, and linguistic discovery. The second to last story, “Hell is the Absence of God,” follows another source of knowledge, this one heavenly, in a world in which Heaven and Hell are indisputable and angels often visit the earth with mixed results. One man, devastated when his wife is killed in the aftermath of an angelic visitation, struggles to love God in order to join her in Heaven. Another woman, born without legs, becomes mobile after a visit from an angel, and finally, the young boy Ethan struggles to find meaning in his bizarre interaction with an angel.

一瞥之下,过去与未来轰轰然同时并至,

我的意识成为长达半个世纪的灰烬,时间未至已成灰。

五十年诸般纷纭并发眼底,我的余生尽在其中。

还有,你的一生。

《你一生的故事》结集特德·姜早期的七篇作品:代表作《你一生的故事》、处女作《巴比伦塔》以及《领悟》、《除以零》、《七十二个字母 》、《人类科学之演变》、《地狱是上帝不在的地方》——

一个语言学家学会了一门外星语言,彻底改变了她的世界观。过去、现在、未来,在她眼前同时展开。

为了离上帝更近,人类伐木烧砖,拉车砌塔,经过无数个世代的辛劳,终于建成一座巍峨耸立于天地之间的通天塔。

只要一小瓶药水,就能拥有超人智慧,这个诱惑无人能挡。可惜超人不止一个,荡气回肠的超人对决之后,领悟终极的智慧。

任何数字除以零,都不会得出一个有意义的结果。两个人的感情除以零,结果是什么?

在一个“名字驱动一切”的世界,命名师们玩转七十二个字母,寻找人类种族繁衍的密码。

当人类的所有科学研究仅仅局限在解读后人类的科研成果时,这种研究是否还有存在的必要?

妻子在天使下凡时去世,丈夫却必须学习如何热爱上帝,以便死后与妻子团聚。

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