Thursday, November 25, 2010

Story of Your Life - Ted Chiang

Novella

Number of words : 17400
Percent of complex words : 13.2
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 13.6


READABILITY INDICES

Fog : 10.7
Flesch : 60.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 8.2


PEOPLE

Louise Banks

A linguist asked by the US military to help communicate with aliens.

Daughter

By Gary. She died.

Nelson

The new boyfriend.

Colonel Weber

Recruits her for the project.

Dr. Gary Donnelly

A physicist Louise works with studying the heptapods, marries and later separates from.

Captain Cook

An explorer.

Roxie

Daughter's friend at 16.

Raspberry

A heptapod.

Flapper

A heptapod.

Moorehead

Another heptapod studying physicist.

Cisneros

Working on the Massachusetts looking glass.

Hossner

A government flunkie.

Burghart

The linguist at the Ft. Worth looking glass.



PLACES

Ellis Avenue

Where Louise lived.

Belmont Street

Where Louise lived next.

Illinois

A US state.

Massachussets

A US state.

Lascaux

Site of famous cave paintings in France.

Fort Worth

City in Texas, USA.




ORGANISATIONS

Mountain Rescue

Found Louise's daughter's body.

State Department

US Government body that deals with non-US relations.


TECHNOLOGY

Looking glasses

Alien communications device.

Etch-a-Sketch

Child's drawing toy.



RACES

Heptapods

Alien visitors to Earth.


CONCEPTS

Heptapod A

The alien spoken language.

Heptapod B

The alien written language.

Phonemics/graphemics

Study of language sounds and writing.

Logographic

Language written via pictures.

Semasiographic

Writing without reference to speech.

Glottographic

Writing that represents speech.

Semagram

A word coined to describe a unit of the written heptapod language.

Escheresque

Reminiscent of the optical illusory art of M. C. Escher.

Fermat's Principle

Least time path of a ray of light.

Planck mass

2.17644(11)×10−8 kg

Spin-flip of atomic hydrogen

An excited hydrogen atom will have an electron change back to the lower energy configuration eventually.

Morpheme

Smallest component of a word.

Teleological

A process for the sake of an end.

ASL

American Sign Language.

Mandalas

Concentric diagrams.

Xenobiology

The study of alien life.


VEHICLES

The Endeavour

Captain Cook's ship.


FOOD

Gourd

Hepatod food.

Gelatin egg

Hepatod food.

Brussels sprouts

A hated vegetable.


MEDIA

Borgesian Book of Ages

Fictional chronicle that records every event, past and future.



PLOT

Louise Banks is recruited by the US military to team with a physicist to understand the newly arrived aliens. She is an expert linguist.

She comes to realise the Heptapods have a distinct written and spoken language that are not related. Heptapod B, and Heptapod A.

The humans experience a breakthrough in understanding the alien mathematics with Fermat's Principle. The alien understanding of time is different and so is their language.

The Heptapods written language is such that starting means you know how it will end. This changes the way her brain functions as she increases her facility with it.

During the project she falls in love with her teammate Gary, and they marry and have a daughter but separate, and the daughter is killed in an accident. She can perceive the daughter's whole life because of her heptapod experience and this is interweaved throughout the story.


4.5 out of 5

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