‘Will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.’ Barack Obama, Summer Reading 2019
'A marvelous, astonishing collection that we would do well to read before the worlds it conjures are upon us. Urgently recommended.’ - Alan Moore
From the acclaimed author of Stories of Your Life and Others – the basis for the Academy Award nominated film Arrival – comes a groundbreaking second collection of short fiction: nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories.
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 Also included are two previously unpublished stories: ‘Omphalos’ and ‘Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom’.
In Exhalation, 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.
As much thought experiments as stories, Ted Chiang’s exquisite mechanisms employ science fiction as an instrument to probe the human condition. Like the chronicler of Exhalation’s title narrative, he opens the back of his own head and lays bare its mysterious golden motion for the hushed appreciation of an awestruck audience. Beautifully written and conceived, this is a marvellous, astonishing collection that we would do well to read before the worlds it conjures are upon us. Urgently recommended.
Deeply beautiful . . . This book is as generous as it is marvelous, and I’m left feeling nothing so much as grateful for it.
New York Times
Exhalation is a breath of fresh air . . . If there's an overarching theme, it's that we should take time to appreciate the miracle of existence and cherish the free will we have to pursue our destinies - while we still can.