This much-anticipated 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 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.
Ted Chiang has gained a rapturous following within the genre and beyond. One of the most influential science-fiction writers of his generation, his stories are unusually moving.
Chiang’s writing shines with a brutal, minimalist elegance. Every sentence is the perfect incision in the dissection of the idea at hand . . . Chiang is all the more conspicuous for his absence from all forms of authorial self-promotion . . . Perhaps he’s simply busy doing what he does best – writing great stories.
The best science-fiction writer of his generation.