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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  73,299 ratings  ·  9,460 reviews
alternate cover for ISBN 9781101947883

From an award-winning science fiction writer (whose short story "The Story of Your Life" was the basis for the Academy Award-nominated movie Arrival), the long-awaited new collection of stunningly original, humane, and already celebrated short stories

This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of re
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Knopf
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Tanya There are two previously unpublished stories in this new collection, "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom". The other seven have been p…moreThere are two previously unpublished stories in this new collection, "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom". The other seven have been published in magazines/journals/anthologies/online before, obviously not in the first collection.(less)

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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
If you're looking for incredibly original sci-fi short stories, look no further!

This time I felt like a lot of these were possible futures linked to technology that reminded me a bit of "Black Mirror", maybe less dark though.

Would recommend.
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, american
Self-Consciousness and Its Discontents

The cost of awareness is the knowledge of inevitability, including the inevitability of death. This is the inherent irony of the universe. It doesn’t matter what we know, our fate has already been fixed. Our ambitions, choices, and persistence are in vain. The idea of predestination is simultaneously an intellectual triumph and a spiritual dead-end - mind realising its own impotence and unimportance.

This self-consciousness is the dominant theme throughout
“A collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.”
President Obama’s summer 2019 reads.

It’s an incredible - yet credible - collection of highly original, profound stories of the personal and societal implications of future tech. From a 3-page snippet to a 100-page novella, they explore humanity’s relationship with technology and hence ourselves: science, literacy, parallel and alternative worlds, faith, and
Ted Chiang is the master of the short form. His execution of short stories and novellas is nearly always flawless, the ideas are great, and his writing style is versatile. This is a writer who has mastered his craft, and his infrequent offerings are well worth the wait.

This is the second time I read his brilliant second collection, Exhalation, this time on the quest to read (or reread) this year’s Hugo and Nebula nominees (Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom, nominated for both, and Omphalos nom
Violet wells
Every story has a mind-boggling idea as its fulcrum. A prism replaces the smart phone as favoured piece of handbag technology which allows the owner to communicate with her paraself in an alternate universe; virtual ai pets are brought into the real world via robotic bodies as their owners seek to discover how fruitful a bond can be created with them; a robot performs an anatomical study on its own brain; in another story we're told we've been hunting aliens in the wrong places - we should be co ...more
Mar 22, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story, sci-fi
I want to know whether my decisions matter!

Ted Chiang’s Exhalation is an antidote to our anxieties over the future, be it of technological dystopias or an endless void of extinction. While, sure, these are topics that are addressed, what is most striking about this extraordinary collection are the way he makes fatalism seem so comforting and mines heady and—often dark—philosophical inquiries for a wealth of emotional resonance. A being contemplates their inevitable non-existence, free will is
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2019-shelf
All said, Chiang's new collection rocks. :) I've read a good number of these in other places, but it doesn't diminish my enjoyment. I'm referencing the stories I liked the most.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate - 1001 Nights meets fixed-timeline time-travel. Easily one of my favorites.

Exhalation - A rather interesting logical-breakdown of universal principles from the PoV of a robot race.

The Lifecycle of Software Objects - Novella, and easily the most wrenching, exploratory of the lot. Touch
Michael Finocchiaro
This is a collection of 9 short stories from author Ted Chiang. I was less impressed by this collection than the previous one I read, The Story of Your Life. Several sounded like minor Black Mirror episodes, others were just not that plausible or interesting. I think my favorite was the first one with the time portals. Not sure I am even up to analyzing each story here. There are some interesting ideas, but overall I found this collection wanting and hardly as good as, for example, the magical P ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
We spoke for more than an hour, and my fascination and respect bloomed like a flower warmed by the dawn, until he mentioned his experiments in alchemy. (c)
We don’t normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated. We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.
Before a culture adopts the use of writing, when its knowledge is
I just love Ted Chiang. I read his earlier collection of short stories a few months ago (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) and all the praise I heaped on him then are still true with "Exhalation". His style is completely unique, and while he sometimes plays with old ideas, he has a way of making them fresh, bright and very thought-provoking.

Just as with "Stories of Your Life and Others", there are a couple of less than stellar stories here, but they don't diminish the quality of this col
Ted Chiang is a master of short fiction, no doubt about it. He may not be the most empathic writer, but his ideas and topics are absolutely brilliant.

This collection has 9 stories, from which only 3 were new for me. Here they are:

Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny – what would be like if our children would be raised by robotic nannies. A bit unnerving…

Omphalos – how will your perception of Earth history will change if you’ll learn that the Earth does not have 8912 years and humanity is not
Loved one of these stories, enjoyed a couple of them, did not resonate at all with the rest. I liked when Ted Chiang wrote stories about innovative concepts – if there were a technology that could allow us to perfectly recall all our memories (“Truth of Fact, Truth of Feeling”), if we could raise AI software as if they were digital pets or almost like our own children (“Life Cycle of Software Objects”) – and merged them with some aspects of human relationships.

I loved the last story in this boo
Kayla Dawn
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Overall a very good and interesting short story collection. Definitely worth checking out.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate


What's expected of us

The Lifecycle of Software Objects

Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling

The Great Silence


Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom
Kevin Kuhn
I found “Exhalation” a bit frustrating—deep breath. On one hand, Chaing continues to ask brilliant questions, and present intellectually stimulating situations. On the other hand, I found the stories to be thin—more like essays or thought experiments, rather than fully realized stories. I don’t blame Chaing, he’s a brilliant writer, I blame the reviewers who have set these sky-high expectations and have fallen all over each other trying to give the greatest praise. Or perhaps, I should blame mys ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
There are two science fiction writers who can write a story exploring an idea better than anyone else, and only one of them is still alive - Ted Chiang. If you take an idea like young-earth creation or multiple dimensions or time travel all the way through and really consider all the ramifications, it opens up interesting avenues, and Chiang follows them to conclusions other authors can't reach (I think he must be very intelligent.) Some of these are novella length, but as long as you know it go ...more
Richard Derus
Not going to bother with a tale-by-tale because I wasn't interested more than 3 stars'-worth in any of them. All but the title story, in fact, were 2.5* because they have nothing exciting to say and they say it so very slowly. I must be at fault. I don't care for or about the stories or the collection. ...more
Spencer Orey
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. These hit hard.

Amazing stories that think through technology and humanity.
(3.5) An excellent, varied collection, one that made me think I should read more short science fiction.

'Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom' was definitely my favourite. It imagines a world not much different from our own, except for the ubiquity of 'prisms'. These are devices which allow a person to communicate with their parallel self (or paraself) in an alternate dimension (or branch), which is seemingly created by the activation of the prism itself. There's a lot going on, from a prism store
Jessica Woodbury
There's a lot to love about Ted Chiang's short stories and that's all here to love in this collection. He creates amazing worlds, sometimes close to the ones we know and sometimes drastically different. Once he's transported the reader into that world he isn't content to just let you look around and enjoy the novelty, he's going to dive into the deepest moral and philosophical questions that world presents. And, in a collection of Chiang stories, you get to move from world to world, question to ...more
S. Zahler
Sep 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The finest stories in the second Ted Chiang collection, Exhalation, are amongst the most thoughtfully written and thought-provoking works of fiction that I've ever read, and every single piece contained herein is a worthwhile journey. This master craftsman investigates, upends, and inverts big ideas by employing scientific tools: His well considered works are exemplar speculative fiction pieces that touch upon concepts no other genre can explore.

Although I greatly enjoyed Chiang's first collecti
Andrew Smith
A collection of short stories, some very short and others novella length, all posing interesting questions. I was attracted by the Goodreads rating – anything north of 4 tends to draw my attention – and I enjoy a dip into science fiction every now and then. There’s some sci-fi I can’t read, that’s the stuff with killer monsters and gizmos that can extract characters from an otherwise inescapable death. But if it has a whiff of ‘maybe’ about it then I’m generally in.

Like all collections, some her
Always Pouting
I only liked the two longer stories in this collection, The Lifecycle of Software Objects and Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom. The other stories just didn't resonate with me, I found them to be boring. Reading this kind of felt like when your friend who's really into philosophy wants to have a conversation about free will, or even worse, about epistemology. ...more
Matt Quann
Exhalation highlights some of my favourite aspects of Ted Chiang's writing, but also brings out some of the content I was less keen on with Stories of Your Life and Others . I read this one over a few months--my short story game has been weak this year!--but took down the last three stories over a few days.

In my review of Chiang's first collection, I noted his creativity often takes centre stage in his stories, but I've come to appreciate the depth with which he investigates his premises. Tak
The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate - 4 stars
This was so enjoyable! Chiang took some inspiration from Arabic fairy tales and gave a time travel spin on it. I liked how the story discussed the consequences of changing the past and even if you can’t change it, how one can learn and grow from the experience.

Exhalation - 3.5 stars
A good story about uncovering life’s mysteries with references to climate change. I kind of struggled with this for some reason.

What’s Expected of Us - 4 stars
A short yet
"People are made of stories. Our memories are not the impartial accumulation of every second we’ve lived; they’re the narrative that we assembled out of selected moments."

From the short story "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" in EXHALATION: Stories by Ted Chiang.

Much like Chiang's first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, these stories had a profound effect on me. Chiang's creativity and philosophical science fiction hit all the right buttons for me.

Common themes of these storie
Tom LA
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars are nothing. Do people realize what Ted Chiang has been doing for the last 20 years? Writing the best SF short-stories out there, that's what he's been doing. I’ve read everything that Ted Chiang has published (not difficult to do because he’s really not very prolific) and I consider him to be the modern-day Arthur C. Clarke. I don’t know if I could imagine a better compliment for a science fiction writer, at least coming from me. And I know Chiang loves Clarke, too.

Being the modern Cla
4.5 stars - Oh how I enjoyed this. I had planned to space these stories out over a few days but nope. Zoomed right through. There were no duds in this collection, though there were a few that really stood out to me. Mostly, though, what tipped this to a 4.5 over a 4 star for me was "Omphalos." One of my favorite stories ever and I think I will end up having to reread it a few times to fully understand its impact on me ...more
Jake Bishop
Oct 16, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book had some possibility for me to not like it. It is hard sci fi, I do not read a lot of hard sci fi. It is a short story collection, which I don't read a lot of. And it is Ted Chiang, an author I have never read.
Fortunutely it had one major thing in it's favor, and that is that it was amazing.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate:
The first and my favorite of the collection. This was likely the least conceptually unique, but it covered what it was doing better than I have ever seen it don
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do you talk about a short story collection? Some work, others don't but what's clear throughout is the thoughtful effort Chiang puts to these stories. He explores notions of time travel, free will, entropy, alternate realities and wrestling with notions of being and memory.

He's careful with his logic but what I appreciate is the his exploration of the human impact. A miniature device with a negative time delay that can send a signal back a second in time creates a catastrophic existential to
Anita Pomerantz
This book has so many accolades. I have no idea why.

Generally, I really enjoy short stories. George Sanders and Alice Munro are amazing. And while I'm not a huge science fiction reader, I really really love Black Mirror . . .which are short science fiction vignettes made for television (also loved Star Trek). So, honestly, I thought I'd be really into this book. But alas, no.

The two book end stories, "The Merchent and the Alchemist's Gate" and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom" were the only
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Ted Chiang is an American speculative fiction writer. His Chinese name is Chiang Feng-nan. He 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 not a prolific author, having published only eleven sh

Articles featuring this book

  Science fiction fans tend to be a ravenous lot, and, as such, the publishing industry has traditionally obliged by keeping the shelves fully...
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“The universe began as an enormous breath being held. Who knows why, but whatever the reason, I'm glad it did, because I owe my existence to that fact. All my desires and ruminations are no more and no less than eddy currents generated by the gradual exhalation of our universe. And until this great exhalation is finished, my thoughts live on.” 72 likes
“People are made of stories. Our memories are not the impartial accumulation of every second we’ve lived; they’re the narrative that we assembled out of selected moments. Which is why, even when we’ve experienced the same events as other individuals, we never constructed identical narratives: the criteria used for selecting moments were different for each of us, and a reflection of our personalities. Each of us noticed the details that caught our attention and remembered what was important to us, and the narratives we built shaped our personalities in turn. But, I wondered, if everyone remembered everything, would our differences get shaved away? What would happen to our sense of self? It seemed to me that a perfect memory couldn’t be a narrative any more than unedited security-cam footage could be a feature film. ·” 59 likes
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