Book - 2019
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This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In "The nerchant and the Alchemist's Gate," a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary "Exhalation," an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. And in "The lifecycle of software objects," a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over twenty years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom." In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth--What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?--and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2019
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781101947883
Branch Call Number: SCI-FIC CHIANG 2019
Characteristics: 350 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

Adult Fiction. “Hugo- and Nebula-winner Chiang’s standout second collection (after 2002’s Stories of Your Life and Others) explores the effects that technology and knowledge have on consciousness, free will, and the human desire for meaning. As Chiang’s endnotes attest, these stories are brillian... Read More »

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Oct 24, 2019

Extraordinary. I found each story to be very powerful and thought provoking, with the exception of the longest (The Lifecycle of Software Objects). Most had very powerful endings that, with a few simple sentences, made me sit back and take some time to consider the entire story.
I'll note that I did find some content involving sex, mostly some brief but explicit sex robot discussions, made me add an age recommendation (15+?) to my review. Just wasn't really expecting that and while I normally throw most sci fi material at my kids, this one made me sit up and think that I need to be a bit more conscious about recommendations. Though in today's world, nothing is really hidden so it may all be moot.

Aug 25, 2019

Part of former US President, Barack Obama's summer reading list for 2019.

Jul 20, 2019

Read the first two stories. I couldn't finish the rest. His style just doesn't grab me at all. But he won a Hugo so evidently some people like his writings.

Jul 19, 2019

I love science fiction authors who can actually write! Few and far between . . . Thanks Ted!

Jul 18, 2019

Ted Chiang is a Chinese American science-fiction writer and the winner of multiple Nebula and Hugo awards. A master of short stories, he is most famous for writing “Stories of Your Life and Others,” which is now better known as the movie Arrival.

Exhalation is Chiang’s second collection ever, which includes not only its title story but also others including “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling,” and “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom.” Chiang’s style is similar to that of Black Mirror, which not only showcases the technology itself and the discrepancies those worlds have with ours, but also highlights the human weakness that are exposed in those situations.

For instance, “The Merchant” is about a man who attempts to travel through time to redress his guilt, which reflects the mindset that time traveling will allow us to fix our past mistakes. “The Truth” gives its characters perfect memories through technology, which can be seen as an extreme extension of our current inclination to record everything with our phones. “Anxiety,” my favorite of all, takes the popular theme of parallel universe but examines human nature as different characters now have access to the results of their “what-if’s.” Even “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” my least favorite story (because I thought it unnecessarily long) evaluated the legal and ethical consequences of disposing AI with freewill, a topic that will become increasingly relevant as the AI field ventures ahead.

In short, Exhalation is a wonderful read in both its imagination and its relevance to our contemporary issues. While Chiang may not be the most prolific of authors, his stories are definitely worth the wait.

For more reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead !

Jul 16, 2019

Colson Whitehead

OPL_DavidD May 04, 2019

Chiang is excellent at exploring the implication of ideas. His characters are relatable and it is a joy to read them encounter strange realities and respond to the changes that they face.


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Oct 24, 2019

pbh1958 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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