“It’s cold on the wall. That’s the first thing everybody tells you, and the first thing you notice when you’re
The two collections, published seventeen years apart, both demonstrate Chiang’s ability to subtly weave very human stories using the mechanics of traditional science-fiction tropes. Yes, there are aliens and teleportation devices, time machines and androids, and artificial intelligence but these are just tools used to tell something of the human experience.
“You think that festering shithead can be renewed?” I said. “Burn it all down!”
“Why would you want to harm so many people?” she asked gently. “It’s my country. It’s where I grew up. It’s being ruined by the leaders. I want it to be better.”
As we see flashes of an emboldened right-wing across Europe and the Americas, the thing that fascinates me most is how does a liberal, modern society transform into a population capable of killing on the scale seen during the 1930s and 40s.
Timothy Snyder’s book Black Earth gets closest to this answer than anything I’ve read previously, but what’s most disturbing about it isn’t the descriptions of violent death and acts of cruelty carried out by the Nazi’s, it’s that western societies are scarily close to repeating history.