This story is divided into 9 parts, all except last into 3 subparts (opener, a & b).
Opener is mathematical wisdom - like Godel's Theorem. It uses factual language in all nine parts, but I'm not really sure it's talking facts - I wasn't paying attention to these subparts. If they are related in any way to the story, I could not see the relation - except that the woman at the heart of the story is a mathematician.
This is the story of Renee & her husband Carl. "a" subpart are from Renee's perspective; "b" from Carl's. And it was an uninteresting story, at least to me.
Renee was a great mathematician, now past her professional prime. Her latest discovery is that arithmetic is "inconsistent" - any number can be proved to be equal to any other! Showing her proof to colleagues doesn't help; no one is able to find a flaw.
This inconsistent arithmetic discovery shatters her balance, & she ends up in a mental asylum.
Just after she gets out of asylum, Carl has discovered that he only feels a sense of duty towards her - he can no longer see the woman he married. So the marriage is headed towards breakup.
Full text of this story is available for download.
- Ted Chiang's "Stories of Your Life and Others".
Fact sheet.First published: Lou Aronica, Amy Stout & Betsy Mitchell (Eds)' "Full Spectrum 3", 1991.
Related: All stories of Ted Chiang.