Let Me Talk to the Aliens! Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”

I’m a translator, and all translators are wannabe linguists (except for the exalted few of us who actually are linguists). I dream of diving deep into the study of language and mastering the tool I use in my profession. This means that “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang is about the adventure I want to have:

Aliens arrive at Earth. Someone has to learn to talk to them. Let me do it! Me! Me, me!

Ted Chiang often writes stories that dramatize a concept. “Liking What You See: A Documentary” examines beauty, and “Exhalation” examines artificial life. “Story of Your Life” examines the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, also called linguistic relativity. It contends that the structure of a language influences and possibly determines thought and decisions.

Since ancient times, the idea that language affects our understanding of the physical world has been contentious. Plato argued against the idea, ...


Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke—available February 6th from Tor Books.

Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches…and waits…

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet’s sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.




Year 1 – Generation 1

Grateful for this opportunity to create a new society in full harmony with nature, we enter into this covenant, promising one another our mutual trust and support. We will face hardship, danger, and potential failure, but we can aspire to the use of practical wisdom to seek joy, love, beauty, community, and life.

—from the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pax, written on Earth in 2065