Arrival

The Science Fiction film Arrival is out on DVD. It is based on the short Science Fiction story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang which was first published in Starlight 2 in 1998 and won the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella, as well as the 1999 Theodore Sturgeon Award. It was adapted for film by Eric Heisserer, and Directed by Denis Villeneuve. The film stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture; it won the award for Best Sound Editing.

It concerns A race of aliens, known as heptapods (due to their 7-pointed radially symmetrical appearance), who make contact with humanity. so the military hires Doctor Louise Banks to learn all about them, discover their language and communicate with them. The story revolves around Banks and Dr. Gary Donnelly, a physicist also working for the military to gain knowledge of physics from the aliens.

The heptapods have two distinct forms of language. Their spoken language is Heptapod A, which is described as having free word order and many levels of center-embedded clauses. They also use a very complex written language called Heptapod B which Unlike its spoken counterpart has such complex structure that a single semantic symbol cannot be excluded without changing the entire meaning of a sentence.

The phenomenon of Heptapod B is explained by the aliens’ understanding of mathematics and Fermat’s principle of least time and that When writing in Heptapod B, the writer knows how the sentence will end. Banks’ understanding of the heptapods’ writing system affects the way she perceives time and suggests a deterministic universe where free will can be achieved by not affecting the outcome of events.

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