I've just read "Hell is the Absence of God" by Ted Chiang, and upon finishing it I was blown away to such extent that I was making small inarticulate sounds and distressed facial expressions for about a minute. An instant 10/10 (in spite of its great ability to cause discomfort in the reader, but hey, art =/= entertainment all the time).

I'm compelled to link to a html mirror but I suppose it hasn't the author's permission. Anyone who'd like to read the story now may look at the first page brought up by googling the title. This is the book in ques... (read more)

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A whole book of his is available on Google Books. I've read the first 2.5 stories so far and they are all good, but varying shades of unpleasant.

7chris_elliott9yI think people on Less Wrong might enjoy my personal favourite Ted Chiang story "Understand", about nootropics. It's also been made available in full on Infinity Plus with permission, here: http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/under.htm [http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/under.htm]
4drethelin9yTed Chiang is a master. If you haven't I recommend reading at least the rest of the stories in the collection that has that one. To me, it felt like an extrapolation of a lot of existing beliefs. IF you believe that god causes miracles and sends people to heaven or hell, and ALSO that god is unknowable to lesser beings, this is the kind of world that you get.

Open Thread, April 2011

by ata 1 min read2nd Apr 2011111 comments

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It seems we have agreed that open threads will continue but that they will go in the Discussion section, so here's this month's thread.