NATIONAL BESTSELLER • ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR • Nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories—two published for the very first time—all from the mind of the incomparable author of Stories of Your Life and Others
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.
Ted Chiang tackles some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine.
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 second chances. In “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. In “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” the ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.
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.
I love these stories and can’t wait to read more
The awards are well deserved for the brilliant writing style yet the stories themselves left me so claustrophobic. I just wanted to go outside and sit under a tree and feel human. Hard stories to read without any positive feelings.