Kevin Nguyen, writing at GQ, on adapting Ted Chiang’s short story, “Story of Your Life” into the film Arrival.

Arrival is every bit as sophisticated as its short story origins, and magnificently translated into 2016’s best piece of cerebral science fiction. Amy Adams brings a precise, introspective performance to the film’s hero linguist Dr. Louise Banks. Villeneuve (Sicario, next year’s Blade Runner sequel) conjures intimacy and muted tensions to a film of global scale. But it’s arguably the script by Eric Heisserer that demands the most recognition for how it translates Chiang’s high-concept sci-fi so effortlessly.

Or at least it looks effortless on screen. The script took Heisserer six years to write. To get the rights to the adaptation, he required Chiang’s approval, so he worked on spec—meaning that he worked on it for free, and would only be paid if Chiang sanctioned it after it was completed. “It was the most stressful pitch of my whole career,” Heisserer said. “I lived with it for so many years.”

Listen to Carmen.

And, if you’re interested in Storyological’s discussion of Ted Chiang’s short fiction, listen to that here.


Hello, readers.

I’m now the co-host and producer of a podcast.

It’s called Storyological.

storyological new ident smallest

It’s about stories, life, the universe, and everything.

This nice lady did the art and is also my co-host.

We’re pretty proud of it.

You should give it a listen sometime.

The first episode is up here. We talked about the stories “Angel, Monster, Man” by Sam J. Miller and “The Time Travel Club” by Charlie Jane Anders.

I hope you like it.

Happy conversations, readers.



on genre, the infinite cloud, and other things

Hello, readers.

Welcome to Friday. Many things are happening. Which is, of course, in the nature of things. If things didn’t happen then they wouldn’t even be things. Which is a weird way to think, actually, as it leads me to look at the pillow leaning against the arm of this couch and think: “That pillow is a happening pillow.”

Here are things.

Thing 1:

Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro on BBC4 talk genre fiction and the prejudices and wonders surrounding and contained therein, and, more awesomely, how they’ve evolved. Bask in the variety of English accents!!!


Here’s a review I wrote of Stories, a collection of genre-bending stories Gaiman co-edited.

Thing 2:

Google Photos launched. Unlimited, free storage for photos (up to 16mb per image) and videos (up to 1080p resolution). The cloud becomes infinite.

…you’ll be able to search for photos with simple keywords. It’s like your own personalized Google Image search. Looking for all the photos you’ve ever taken of your puppy? Just punch in “puppy.” Even more advanced searches like “kissing” returned accurate results in my early testing.

Google wants to organize and make sense of the world’s information. Giving the world a free space into which to put their information kind of helps with that.

Thing 3:

A fantastic TED talk, that’s really an interview and demonstration. John Hockenberry interviews Tom Shannon (painter of centrifugalism, sculptor of magnetism) about making art that visualizes the invisible world.

I love invisible things.

Thing 4:

John Scalzi’s very big, and very public, deal with Tor discussed in the Washington Post with an interview with John Scalzi.

Scalzi’s contract sets a very public precedent for other science fiction authors to use as a negotiating point, and it also gives him room to breathe: In addition to sequels to several of his most popular series, Scalzi pitched Tor three ideas for young adult novels, a genre he hasn’t worked in before.

Thing 5:

I like having 5 things. That is the fifth thing.

Enjoy your weekend, readers.