"Liking What You See" by Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and OthersFiction — print. Selection from Stories of Your Life and Others. Tor, 2005. 288 pgs. Class handout.

Ted Chiang’s short story describes a debate at fictional Pembleton College about enforcing the use of calliagnosia, a device that makes it impossible to users to prejudice against others based on facial beauty. Chiang turned down a Hugo nomination for his short story “Liking What You See” in 2003, on the grounds that the story was rushed due to editorial pressure and did not turn out as he had really wanted.

And maybe the part about it not turning out the way he wanted is true, but I didn’t think it was rushed at all. In fact, I thought it was fabulous, which is high praise considering I had to write a writing placement essay over “Liking What You See” for college.

I was thought science fiction could not be properly execute in short story format because they take a lot of time to set up and explain; however, Chiang manages to do it in less that twenty pages. The story is inventive, yet still related to our lives, and posses a lot of questions, but doesn’t give a lot of answers.

I’m quite interested in reading more of his short stories, particularly the ones in Stories of Your Life and Others, where “Liking What You See” was originally published.


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