This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later with next to no spell/grammar checking.
I frequently say that sci-fi is a setting not a genre and this story is a wonderful reminder that I’m wrong: it is (or can be!) both.
This is a short story of a first contact with minds that are clearly alien and it is about people trying to figure out how to communicate.
It is very good! It delves into interesting linguistic detail (how do you start learning a completely alien language?), sprinkles in a bit of physics (enough to be intriguing and plausible without drowning in it) and philosophy.
I don’t really want say more than that, because the story is quite short and I do not wish to spoil it.
When I was reading it, I was constantly reminded of the best "out there" works of Isaac Asimov — Story of Your Life had a very similar feeling to me.
I definitely want read other stories by Ted Chiang now.