Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Lifecycle of Software Objects, by Ted Chiang

For those who are interested, and this should be everyone, Subterranean Online has just published Ted Chiang's novella "The Lifecycle of Software Objects".

Chiang is not prolific and every time he publishes his stories tend to be one of the best published in a given year.  So, you'll want to go read this.

Honestly, though, this is one of the few times I've been disappointed in one of Chiang's stories.  There's supposed to be heart in the story, but Chiang left me feeling a bit cold towards the characters and that situation - which is never a good thing for me as a reader.  This is why I haven't talked about the story all year.  I had no idea what to really say.   Elizabeth Bear loved it, though. You can probably find scads of other positive reviews all over the place. 

Bear writes,
This is a descriptive work of science fiction, rather than a strongly plot-driven one. It’s meditative and thoughtful, and it does not offer tidy closure or resolution: just a series of ever-more-complicated questions.
I think this may be one of my issues, that more descriptive works challenge my reader-brain in ways that I just not tend to enjoy so much.

So why point out a story I didn't overly like? 

Dude, it's a new Ted Chiang.  Even when I don't like it, it's impressive and worth noting.  You don't want to miss new Ted Chiang that is offered online for free.  Besides, what the hell do I know?


Chad Hull said...

Disappointment seems to be what many feel after reading this book. I don't know if it's due to the obscene high-water mark of his previous stories or just because this one is blah.

I'll read it later on and find out for myself.

redhead said...

A lot of folks I've talked to have been dissapointed in Lifecycle. It makes me feel like a total fangirl to say that I really enjoyed it.

It didn't end the way I expected, but that's OK. For me, it felt more like a mother / son or parenting story, and less like a scifi story. Sure, Chiang asked about a billion questions, and didn't answer any of them, but I liked that too.

my only complaint is that maybe Lifecycle kept going a little longer than needed.

Joe said...

Red: Well, you might be a fangirl, but not just because you liked the story. ;)

Lots of other folks liked it, too.

And, hey, different tastes.