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4.31  ·  Rating details ·  17,705 ratings  ·  2,626 reviews

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

Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published July 11th 2019 by Picador (first published May 7th 2019)
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Tanya There are two previously unpublished stories in this new collection, "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom". The other seven have been…moreThere are two previously unpublished stories in this new collection, "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom".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)
Elizabeth My copy doesnt have that so I dont think that its purposeful thing. Thats weird especially considering none of the stories are called "Faith" and page…moreMy copy doesnt have that so I dont think that its purposeful thing. Thats weird especially considering none of the stories are called "Faith" and page 113 is still in " The Lifecycle of Software Objects". (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.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cecily by: Gabrielle
“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
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, sci-fi
Self-Consciousness and Its Discontents

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

This is the dominant theme throughout Chiang’s stories. In a tale that could be from the Arabian Nights, the protagonist discovers that “Coincidence and intention
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.
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 ...more
Manuel Antão
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Nothing Erases the Past: "Exhalation: Stories" by Ted Chiang

“Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough.”

In “The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate” by Ted Chiang

I could write a review for each one of the stories in this collection, but my favourite is the “The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate”.

If I had a Time Machine, I would save my time machine journey
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡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
Kayla Dawn
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 the
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
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.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
(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
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.
I just love Ted Chiang. I read his earlier collection of short stories a few months ago ( 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
Matthew 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. Take,
David Yoon
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
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
A must for any Ted Chiang's fan. Only two new stories, but really strong ones, and, of course, it's always a pleasure to reread Chiang's "old" stories.
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
¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪SomeBunny Reads (Phoenix)•*¨*•♫♪
"Four things do not come back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity."

Exhalation is a collections of short stories, "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," "Exhalation", "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","Omphalos" and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom". Some of these stories have been published before, but this was my first
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is no secret that I don't like short stories, again I am making a promise to myself not to read any more...2020 will be a short story free zone.

This collection makes me fear for our technological future but gives me hope that our humanity will stay intact. Not bad, for a bunch of short stories that is ;-)
"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
This collection of nine science fiction stories was inventive and interesting on an intellectual level, but only two of them touched me emotionally. Personally, I want to feel something when I read a book and not just engage my mind. I want my heart to beat faster or have it hurt in sympathy with the characters as my mind works to sort out where the author is leading me. This did not happen here for the most part as these stories pondered free will, fate, what shapes people to be who they are ...more
This collection is just as good as Stories of Your Life and Others, with "Exhalation," "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom" as particular standouts.

Also "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," "The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling," and "Omphalos."

Oh, all of them.
I'm done. I'm finished. I can't read another page. I read all the stories but the last one. I got about halfway through that one.

I really liked: The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate, Exhalation, What's Expected of Us, The Great Silence. These were all so good. It's hard to say which would be my favorite out of these. Maybe Exhalation.

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling was ok and I cared nothing for the other stories. The last story was the only one that tripped me up a little on the
This is Ted Chiang's second story collection that I read and I must say I liked this one better than the first. Chiang could bore me at times (*I can hear his fans gasping in disbelief*) but in this collection, there are more stories that I could either relate to or simply emotionally touching.

My personal favorites are:

"The Great Silence"
One of the most emotional ones for me. It made me think of the reason why we spent so many resources for outer space and forget that our world and almost
More like 3 and a half stars. I remember loving his first collection but perhaps my memory has gilded over the rough edges - the clumsy dialogue and clumsy characterization and clumsy moralizing, which are all in evidence here. The grasps toward poignancy end up cold and aloof, a common problem with “hard” science fiction. Clumsy is the best description which is a shame. Still, worth reading.

EDIT: my initial thoughts expanded:

I read Ted Chiang's first collection of stories before this blog, when
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I think that all in all I had a mixed reaction to this newest collection of short stories by Chiang. Some were pitch perfect. Others went on too long and just had a garbled message in my opinion. I still love how he talks about things such as fate, faith, love, and even touches upon how technological advancements does not always equal making things better for human beings or other species. Per usual, here are my individual ratings for the short stories.

"The Merchant and the Alchemist's
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this collection of short sci-fi stories was delightful.

ted chiang takes a lot of classic SF concepts and gives them a fresh, new spin. you’ll find tales about time travel, android lifeforms, environmental issues, and parallel worlds. interwoven with genuine concerns about how technology changes our perception of life continuously, this collection also poses questions about faith, religion, and personal identity.

i loved how chiang never really hands a conclusion to the reader. there is not The
Marianna Neal
4.5 out of 5 stars

Ted Chiang's "what if" scenarios through which he tells his stories just work for me. I loved his previous collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, and this one did not disappoint. Here, the overarching theme that stood out most to me was growth through acceptance—acceptance of self, of change, of differences, of mistakes, of lack of control. This is not the most comfortable thought for those of us who believe in our power to shape our lives and our reality, and in certain
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are few authors whose works I anticipate with bated breath the way I do Ted Chiang’s, and oh, this collection - his second - was entirely worth the wait.

If you have never heard of Ted Chiang, you may perhaps be more familiar with the movie Arrival, adapted from his short story, The Story of Your Life. Ted Chiang doesn’t write novels, his works are usually novella length at best and each one released roughly two years apart. He is nevertheless most certainly no lightweight in the world of
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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
“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.” 21 likes
“Four things do not come back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity,” 17 likes
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