Study Questions for "Story of Your Life" [1998] by Ted Chiang

While not a prolific writer, Ted Chiang is a multiple Nebula Award winning author. Please see the link to an interview with him for additinal information on his life and his motive for writing. Here are a few things to coinsider as you review his story:

  1. Masri argues that Chiang's story implicitly asks the question, "If you knew the future but could not change it, would you do anything differently?" (p. 614). How does the story pose a conflict between free will and predestination? Does Chiang's address to these concepts somehow resonate with the situation addressed by C.L. Moore in "Vintage Season"?
  2. Masri also suggests that Chiang’s is an “achingly sad story” about the “protagonist’s altered sense of time” (p. 614). How does Louise Banks’s acquisition of the Heptapod’s written language create her altered sense of time and reveal to us the causes of the sadness that governs her life?
  3. If Louise Banks's "apprehension of time" is "simultaneous," as Maszri suggests (p. 614), how does Chiang demonstrate this concdept through the very structure of his story? After reading "Story of Your Life," re-read its initial nine paragraph section and consider in what ways Chiang is demonstrating Banks's being somehow unstuck in time.