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Ted Chiang was born in Port Jefferson, New York, on Long Island in 1967. The son of Chinese parents who immigrated from China to Taiwan to the United States, Chiang attended Brown University and majored in computer science. Chiang also attended the highly influential Clarion Workshop, which fosters and develops promising young writers of science fiction and fantasy. Chiang subsequently moved to Seattle and worked for a time at Microsoft where he met his wife, Marcia Glover. Glover, like Chiang, has a computer science background but has since become successful in the arts, as a photographer. Despite the popularity of his writings, Chiang has written only 18 short works of fiction. He continues to work in the computer sciences, including technical writing in the software industry.
Chiang’s first science fiction short story, “Tower of Babylon,” was published in 1990 and was met with widespread praise. The story won Chiang his first Nebula Award, the first of many writing accolades. Chiang’s writing often tackles the concept of perspective and metacognition, or the ability of humans to think about their own thinking. Chiang is also fascinated by time travel and free will. In a 2017 interview in The New Yorker, Chiang stated that his primary goal “has to do with engaging in philosophical questions and thought experiments, trying to work out the consequences of certain ideas.”
In his most famous work, “Story of Your Life,” Chiang explores the nature of time and the idea that generating a new perspective about time might change the way humans experience it. According to Chiang, he became curious about this subject when considering how language might tie into the way humans perceive reality. After reading about linguistics for five years, Chiang wrote the now-famous story. In 2016, “Story of Your Life” was made into a film, “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams. Other accomplishments include the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1992, a number of Locus and Hugo Awards for Best Short Story and Best Novelette, and several British Science Fiction Association Awards for Best Short Fiction.