Arrival (Story of your Life)

I have recently watched The Science Fiction film Arrival again. 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 arrive on Earth in 12 locations and make contact with humanity. So the military hires Doctor Louise Banks and Physicist Dr. Gary Donnelly, to learn all about them, discover their language, gain knowledge of physics and communicate with the aliens. They discover that 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 and it requires an understanding of mathematics and Fermat’s principle of least time. When writing in Heptapod B, the writer must already know how the sentence will end. Gradually Doctor Louise Banks and Dr Donnelly learn how the Heptapods language works and start communicating with them.

Unfortunately matters are complicated when Frenzied sensationalised media reports start being written by the Newspapers about the End of the World and destruction of humanity, which start scaring the public who start panicking. Matters are then made worse when military personnel in China and Russia get aggressive and decide that military action is required. So it is up to Banks and Donnelly to stop China and Russia before they start a war with the aliens.

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