Book - 2019 | First edition
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This second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In "The Merchant 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.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2019
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781101947883
Branch Call Number: FIC SF
Characteristics: 350 pages ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Exhalation : stories


From Library Staff

Ted Chiang is an American science fiction writer. His work has won four Nebula awards, four Hugo awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and four Locus awards. Exhalation was chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of 2019 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review.

This short story collection might appeal to fans of "The Three Body Problem" (on a much smaller scale).

Ted Chiang is an American science fiction writer. His work has won four Nebula awards, four Hugo awards, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and four Locus awards. Exhalation was chosen as one of the 10 Best Books of 2019 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review.



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FPL_KendallN Dec 03, 2020

This transcendent collection of short stories (and 1 novella) is hard to describe. Every story seems contrived to render the reader helpless in the wake of gut-wrenching emotional blows, often deployed on the last page or in the last sentence (looking at you "The Great Silence"). These sci-fi stories are highly conceptual and introspective. Characters often find themselves simply reflecting on their unique worlds and situations. What went wrong? What went right? How did we get here? Questions that often feel unmistakably current but also timeless. Ted Chiang is asking the BIG questions through common sci-fi tropes such as time travel, alternate worlds, dystopia, and AI. It feels sometimes, as Chiang asks these big questions, like a challenge. His characters are warnings, pleas, and reflections. I recommend this book for lovers of philosophy and for those who like reflecting on the nature of humanity. It will not disappoint.

Oct 22, 2020

Very interesting read; definitely recommend. Here is my rating for the nine stories in this book:
1) 4.5/5
2) 4/5
3) 3.5/5
4) 4/5
5) 3.5/5
6) 4.5/5
7) 5/5
8) 4/5
9) 4.5/5

Overall: 4/5

Oct 16, 2020

Quite different from his first collection, Stories of Your Life, which is one of my favorite books of all time. Nonetheless, Exhalation is powerful and amazing in its own rights. It's like reading Margaret Atwood, you are immersed into a unique world when you are hardly past the first two paragraphs!

May 30, 2020

Confident, economical writing that suspended my disbelief before I even noticed, allowing exploration of mind-stretching ideas. Good fun.

Apr 12, 2020

Chiang explores so many thought-provoking themes in this book of short stories, two novellas, and a novelette; e.g. free will, the implications of creating and caring for AI beings, the effect on society and individuals of accurate memory. Two of the stories were just nominated on 8 April 2020 for Hugo Awards: "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom”. Chiang’s writes with great clarity, explaining any complex technology or science that underlies his stories with succinctness. His writing style is compact and direct, yet the ideas he examines through simple narratives are profound. He doesn’t moralize; readers must think about the story and draw their own conclusions. At the end of the book, he provides a paragraph or two about each story describing what inspired him to write it. This would be an excellent book for a book club.

Feb 10, 2020

The stories within Exhalation were thought provoking and had a theme in common - collective humanity and perhaps what it means to be human. I had to take a break between stories to contemplate the meaning of what I had just read and how it might relate to my life. The length of the stories varied, some very long and others very short.

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

His style just doesn't grab me at all. Real characterization doesn't exist it his writings - it's only ideas, like moving around chess pieces. And his 'characters' have as much substance as a pawn; they are not at all believable.
I need more than ideas to make reading a story worthwhile, or to consider him a good writer. Especially with the awful genre of time travel stories. I can't understand the adoration for this book.

Jul 19, 2019

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

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Oct 24, 2019

pbh1958 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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