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Ted Chiang [Feb. 25th, 2012|10:03 pm]
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In 2003, Ted Chiang turned down a Hugo nomination for his short story "Liking What You See: A Documentary," on the grounds that he'd been rushed in writing the story and he felt it didn't deserve the recognition. I've been working my way through Chiang's (small, though awesome) body of work, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear of that decision because I thought there was a glaring omission in "Liking What You See" that really weakened the story for me.

While I was reading it, I kept expecting a character to point out that beauty as a social concept developed because it served an evolutionary purpose in helping humans select healthy mates, but that medical advances, including genetic testing, as well as the social changes that increased the number of people who voluntarily forego parenthood, had both devalued beauty's evolutionary function. Proponents of calliagnosia should have been arguing that beauty in their society was no more necessary than a full complement of wisdom teeth; instead, the story touched on the evolutionary history of beauty but never took that idea to its obvious conclusion.

I enjoyed the story despite this flaw, but it did niggle at me. Thoughts, disagreements, etc.?

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