I first heard of Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” on which ARRIVAL is based, at the very first con I attended as a wannabe writer about seven or eight years ago. It was on a panel that included among other luminaries, Nancy Kress, who cited “Story of Your Life” as the best short story dealing with the idea of translating of alien languages. I read it soon thereafter, a couple of times over. It’s been about 3-4 years since I read it last.
It’s a Ted Chiang story (everyone in the SF/F writing business knows what that means), so it left enough of an impression on me that when I saw ARRIVAL, I knew that whatever liberties this film adaptation took didn’t take away from the fundamental truth of the story. Sure, a film with Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker would have to kick things up a notch to justify their salaries. But I’m extremely tickled by how this story about translation was in fact a very good translation. Nothing was lost. And just maybe one or two things were gained.