Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Exhalation” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating


4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  511 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Originally appearing in Jonathan Strahan’s Eclipse Two, “Exhalation” is an evocative story of an all-metal world, its argon-breathing inhabitants, and a scientist who performs the ultimate self-examination.
Published March 24th 2009 (first published December 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Exhalation, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Exhalation

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,036)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Inventive, cerebral piece about the mechanics of Being. A philosophical-sci-fi-lit-fic mash-up. Art and science collide in a rough and tender embrace, and change each others disposal sets of lungs out with a sense of communal connection. Chiang faces the impending void of the universe with a skip in his step and in his heartbeat, wresting awe and meaning from it all before the great collapse.
Charles Loelius
Until I read this I thought that Hell is the Absence of God was the greatest science fiction story not only by Chiang, but in general. As you might have guessed by now, I was very wrong.

The only thing I can say about this story is that it is beautiful, elegant, sparse in just the right way. This is so far, in my mind, the pinnacle of all of Chiang's works, asking the big questions in just the right way. What the story is, a meditation on existance, an exploration of another world, one vast metap
4.5 stars. Excellent short story. Beautifully written and original, this story shows the power and importance of the Science Ficiton short story. Winner: Hugo Award for Best Short Story (2009).
Claudia Piña
Es difícil pensar en las historias de Chiang como cortas. Hay tanto dentro que la cuenta de palabras es secundaria.

En estos días he leído prácticamente todo su trabajo en ficción y sigo siendo sorprendida por esa sensación de no saber realmente que está pasando, de estar a punto de entender los universos surreales de sus historias pero no del todo. Chiang explica las reglas del juego pero no tenemos la experiencia al jugar.

Sobre la historia solo puedo decir que es una maravillosa forma de hacer
Mechanical beings face an aerostatic version of the heat death of the Universe... can they find life transcending solace?

Beautiful and intelligent...

Read here:

Listen here:

A unique story that only Ted Chiang can write. Somewhere in the middle of reading it, I had the disorienting sense of going through a technical manual on a strange, new argon-powered device. And yet, it was not unentertaining. In another's hands, this might have been as bad as root canal, but Chiang's skilled writing makes it all work. Bravo!
Dylan Tomorrow
How did I forget to review this?

Fucking brilliant! A perfect self-contained scifi that made me care and weep for machines like few other stories. Ineffably beautiful ...

Read it now – the ebook is freely available! (see book description)
He starts with positing a mechanical life form, and ends up with entropy, death, and the joy of life. No backstory, only futurestory.
An interesting short story that started off reminding me strongly of Asimov, but eventually established its own voice- sort of. With its first pages Exhalation presents us with a narrative that leaves us uncertain about the rules of this universe. The characters are clearly not people as we know them, though they think and communicate as we do. The opening reminded me of the Asimov short stories "A Feeling of Power" (with the discovery/rediscovery of fundamental knowledge) and “The Endochronic P ...more
Fascinating concept and imagery. The strength of this story is probably the worldbuilding: the creation of argon-breathing metal lifeforms and an exploration of the demise of their universe, although other concepts presented in the story are interesting as well.
An interesting story about an early scientist discovering the concept of entropy in a universe where a difference in air pressure is the source of all work. Not very deep, ultimately, and could have been shortened I think, but it was a clever way of presenting a concept that exists in our universe.
Michael Sy A Foek
Another fascinating story by Ted Chiang. Loved the unraveling of the world and the slow realization of what is to come for the inhabitants of this space. Again, beautifully written and filled with some amazing wondrous moments.
I love this short story. First encountered in on Escapepod and then recently re-read in Lightspeed
The absolute best science fiction I've ever read. I doubt anything will top this gem.
Titus G
All science is a bag of wind.
I didn't really get this one. Maybe I'm trying to read too much into it. A being, (mechanical to some extent), disassembles itself to discover how it's brain/memories work and finds out it's race is certainly doomed.
What appeared to be a very technical read at first turned out to be one of the finest and most mind-boggling science fiction short stories I have ever read.
I felt so much pathos for the protagonist and his race that I couldn't help but shed a tear at the end. Only Ted Chiang can write stories like this one; mind-bending and truly original concepts + superb execution. The fact that the author is not very prolific is very frustrating.
Sidsel Pedersen
It is a great story, a really interesting piece of world building. However the voice of the narration bored me a great deal. Which is a shame and probably my problem rather than the stories, but I am reviewing my enjoyment of what I read, so I will give this 3 stars.

Read my full review here:
I was very impressed with the amount of thought and innovation put into this short story. The character and world that Chiang constructed was nothing I'd ever encountered, yet he made it accessible and real. I don't want to spoil it by giving anything away. Highly, highly recommended and a quick read.
Brent Werness
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris March
A story by a favorite sci-fi author of mine. I found the beginning slow, but I was glad I kept going, since he explores a unique perspective, and interesting concepts.
Read it here:
This story of robots will make you think far more about human life than most about humans ever do. Take the time to read it. It's a short story about how time can be precious, but it's worth spending the time reading it.
The required reading material for my science fiction course. The whole setting is novel and interesting. The escalation at the end is worth reading over and over again. I love this story.
Colin Gerber
A very interesting short story. It gives you a very unique perspective of the world around you through the creation of a new imaginary race. Well worth the read.
Suuri huokaus - Portti 3/2009

Kirjallisesti varmaankin ansiokas, mutta tarina oli kovaa scifiä, teknistä koko tarina. Kuvailtiin mikä ylläpitää elämää...
Great short story, fascinating take on what it means to be self conscious. I loved the idea of a completely closed system, and how you cannot get around that.
Evgen First
Чанг великолепен. Ждал шутку. Что-нибудь в стиле Шекли. Вот появится создатель всей этой несуразицы и посмеемся. А оказалось...Like tears in rain.
Chris C
More of the same brilliance that Chiang has exhibited throughout his writings. Much to love and almost nothing to hate here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 34 35 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mono no Aware
  • The Persistence of Vision
  • Six Months, Three Days
  • Kirinyaga (A Fable of Utopia, #1)
  • They're Made Out of Meat
  • Think Like a Dinosaur and Other Stories
  • The Best of Michael Swanwick
  • The Lady Astronaut of Mars
  • Selections from Fragile Things, Volume One
  • Point of Dreams (Astreiant, #2)
  • Tik-Tok
  • Craphound
  • The Child Garden
  • The Star
  • The Last Question
  • The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect
  • Take Back Plenty (Tabitha Jute, #1)
  • Engine Empire: Poems
Ted Chiang (born 1967) is an American speculative fiction writer. His Chinese name is Chiang Feng-nan. He was born in Port Jefferson, New York and graduated from Brown University with a Computer Science degree. He currently works as a technical writer in the software industry and resides in Bellevue, near Seattle, Washington. He is a graduate of the noted Clarion Writers Workshop (1989).

Although n
More about Ted Chiang...
Stories of Your Life and Others The Lifecycle of Software Objects The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate Hell is the Absence of God Understand

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“..through the act of reading my words, the patterns that form your thoughts become an imitation of the patterns that once formed mine. And in that way I live again, through you.” 2 likes
More quotes…