ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories—two being published for the very first time—all from the mind of the incomparable Ted Chiang.
Tackling some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine, these stories will change the way you think, feel, and see the world. They are Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic, revelatory.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ted Chiang’s fantastical story collection insists that while technology can’t dim the human spirit, it can certainly complicate it. Chiang—who wrote the riveting short story that inspired Hollywood’s deeply affecting Arrival—has an inquisitive, philosophical approach to science fiction that’s on full display here. In one story, corporations have designed semi-anthropomorphic electronic pets, whose owners begin to instinctively treat them like children. In another, a civilization of sentient robots recognizes that its extinction is approaching. Chiang continues to confront the fast and fluid pace of change not with fear, but with compassion and empathy.
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. These nine stories introduce life-changing inventions and new worlds with radically different physical laws. In each, Chiang produces deeply moving drama from fascinating first premises. The title story follows a scientist whose self-experimentation reveals both the origin and eventual fate of consciousness. In "What's Expected of Us," a small device horrifically alters human behavior. Chiang's rigorous worldbuilding makes hard science fiction out of stories that would otherwise be fable, as in the Hugo and Nebula-winning novelette "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," a time travel story that employs both relativistic physics and an Arabian Nights style structure. Others grapple with robots parenting humans, humans parenting AIs, the Fermi paradox, quantum mechanics, and what it means to be a sentient creature facing a potentially deterministic universe. As Chiang's endnotes attest, these stories are brilliant experiments, and his commitment to exploring deep human questions elevates them to among the very best science fiction. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit.
I love these stories and can’t wait to read more
All somehow following certain themes but definitely bring up very specific philosophical questions that kept my group talking for hours for every section. My favorite and personally the best kind of sci-fi takes.
A Smorgasbord of Great Stories
Each of the stories in Ted Chiang’s newest collection “Exhalation” is an answer to that classic science fictional question “What If?”...
The first is almost a Arabian Nights flavored fantasy tale about time travel, but the rest are more like traditional science fiction. Each was previously published in diverse places. Like many collections, some will be more interesting to a particular reader than others. However, I think it is a testament to Mr. Chiang’s skill as a writer that all of these stories were really well crafted, and made me think about the story for a while after finishing each one.
There are stories about the growing pains of software-based AI that live in a virtual world, and about pneumatic powered life forms who discover that entropy will increase. There is even a story about what the universe would actually look like if young-earth creationism was real.
The author provides a nice afterward that tells the history of the stories, and of his thought process in writing them. Definitely a collection worth reading!