2. Language and world view

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This is another story - of several in 2020 - built around the idea that language shapes world view - in this case nothing less than one's perception of and relationship with time. Did this work for you as a principle? And in particular was the short story form sufficient to allow the idea to be properly developed?

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    I found the idea to be more clearly developed in the film. It was really only hinted at in the story. In fact, in the story, one really has to work to imagine the link between the mother's... letters?... to her daughter and the first contact scenario. I suppose you're drawn to that conclusion because the mother reveals that this first contact scenario is really the beginning of the story of the child. It's also rather confusing that the mother seems to be describing future events as if they happened in the past - or vice-versa. I did eventually piece this together.

    The version given in the film was much more lucid, with the introduction of the scene with the Chinese general making it quite clear that the fact that she's loose in time is a result of her learning the alien's language. And somehow there's a choice she needs to make about whether she's going to have the child or not, knowing the child will die young.

    The film also specifically names the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which we've not discussed 3 or 4 times here at the club. The short story didn;t name it, but I recognized it when I saw it.

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    Funnily I felt the book's handling of time was better and more believable than the movie. In the movie there were all these teams working on things, but the only one that did anything was the team with the stars. In the book, all the teams were experiencing the same thing, and knew what was happening because they remembered it.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    ... It's also rather confusing that the mother seems to be describing future events as if they happened in the past - or vice-versa. I did eventually piece this together.

    When I was putting together my thoughts about structure (#8) I began trying to tag all the sections as past/ present/ future, plus a quick sense of how far ahead each bit was, as narrated by the daughter's school year or similar. But that rapidly fell by the wayside since not all of the sections are time-tagged, and I got slightly caught up in what the "now" of the story is/ Presumably "now" is the moment that the story begins and ends with, which means that (most or all of) the meetings with the aliens are in the past, and all of the mother-daughter interactions are in the future. But I couldn't be sure, and decided in the end that this was a deliberate ploy on Ted Chiang's part, to enhance the sense that from the hepatapods perspective time's arrow is not a big thing.

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    @clash_bowley said:
    Funnily I felt the book's handling of time was better and more believable than the movie. In the movie there were all these teams working on things, but the only one that did anything was the team with the stars. In the book, all the teams were experiencing the same thing, and knew what was happening because they remembered it.

    Naturally it's not only the star team but also the Americans :)

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    It was an interesting idea. I don't think it holds much water, but it was interesting to explore. I liked that it wasn't always clear when the different episodes occurred, but there was a strong central sequence to the story. I think a short story was the correct home for it: I'm not sure the idea would have held up in a longer work.

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