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Exhalation

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  1,872 ratings  ·  309 reviews
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 revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic
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Paperback, 350 pages
Published May 16th 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Tanya There are two previously unpublished stories in this new collection, "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom". The other seven have been…moreThere are two previously unpublished stories in this new collection, "Omphalos" and "Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom".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)
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4.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,872 ratings  ·  309 reviews


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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
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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
Marcheto
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.
Blair
(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
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Claudia
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
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Aerin
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.
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
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Tanya
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories, sci-fi, arc
Exhalation: Stories was my most anticipated book release of the year, the long-awaited second collection by the perhaps most highly decorated SFF writer ever (seriously—on average, Chiang releases a short story every two years, and is seemingly incapable of publishing one without it being nominated for the genre's top awards), a full seventeen years after his first one, Stories of Your Life and Others.

This book collects nine stories, two of which (Omphalos and Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom
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Paul
(4.5 stars.) Chiang fans have read most of these over the past decade, but it’s definitely nice to have all the stories in one place. I’d say Exhalation is a slight improvement over his first collection, which is really saying something.

Chiang remains the best speculative sci-fi writer out there. As ever, his prose is unobtrusive and deceptively simple, but actually very carefully crafted. Characterization is serviceable rather than amazing, but for short stories it’s not a problem. (With that s
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Jamie
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very solid collection. As with most of Chiang's writing these are "idea" pieces. He asks big picture questions, using the stories as vehicles for him to explore the ramifications of either some groundbreaking new technology (time travel, AI, etc) or discovery/revelation that has the power to reshape humanity and our perceptions.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate (4.5) - Wonderful, novel time travel tale told with more richness, and deeper characterizations than Chiang's typical storytelling.

E
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matthew
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
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Leo Robertson
The title story is very cool, and many others are similarly thought-provoking.

Those stories that run to novelette/novella-length, I had to skip. Though Chiang's extensive research and imagination are evident, I wasn't that invested in the concepts he came up with. It was like, "Sure, if that concept existed, that's probably how that would all go down. Thank you for this comprehensive document, Mr Chiang."

Russell Brand told a story in one of his stand-up sets about how he invented this weird bask
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Константин Зарубин
The whole collection is good - really good - but two stories in particular are up there with the best sci-fi I have ever read: "Exhalation" (hands-down brilliant) and "Omphalos" (bordering on genius).

Ever since I devoured Stanisław Lem's complete works (in Russian translations) a quarter of a century ago, reading science fiction has been tinged with something like routine disappointment. Very few things are as good as Lem at his finest (which is at least 30% of Lem). Chiang's "Exhalation" and "
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Jordan
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2019
Really thought-provoking collection, definitely ones I'll revisit.

Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

Short stories collections are always hit or miss with me--more of the 'miss' than 'hit,' if we're being honest--so I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed these stories. Chiang tackles some sci-fi related quandaries that I've come across and considered myself many times before. Time travel, AI robots, parallel universes--Chiang explores all of it and does it with an eas
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Diana
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 s
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Topher
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every story Ted Chiang writes is a pearl, borne of a grain of supposition ("What if you could talk to your self from other quantum worlds?" "What purpose could there be in time traveling to the past if changing it is impossible?" "What if young-earth creationism was true?") ground relentlessly in the gears of his mind until it emerges, a complete universe with its own unique physics and metaphysics, and characters whose emotional and spiritual lives are bound up in the implications therein. It's ...more
Will Chin
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Space battles are fun. However, if you really want to dig your nails into how science and technology will change humanity as we know it, which is how I like my science fiction, this is where you want to be looking. Ted Chiang's previous short story collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, is exemplary of the kind of philosophical questions that science fiction poses and explores. And if you have read Stories of Your Life and Others and want more stories like that, his latest collection, Exha ...more
Kara
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty disappointed to discover I'd read what amounted to half the book before (my fault for not checking the contents before picking it up), but I'm still glad I read it. The two previously unpublished stories (particularly the last story in the collection) are excellent and made this a worthwhile purchase.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate: previously published in 2007, read in 2018, 5 stars
Exhalation: previously published in 2008, read but can't remember when, 4 stars
What's Expected
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Caroline
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection contains three Ted Chiang stories I had never read before - “Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny”, “Omphalos”, and “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom”. The first two I didn’t like. The third was pretty good, but nothing special. I guess the book was worth buying just for the last story, but it’s pretty close.

Four stars overall because the collection also contains some of my favorite Ted Chiang stories, even though they weren’t new to me. I love “Exhalation” and “The Lifecycle of Sof
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Daniel Simmons
May 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I found this to be fairly lackluster compared to the author's "Story of Your Life" collection. Conceptually most of these stories are great, but Chiang has failed to fully flesh them out with appealing or empathetic characters, and as a result they read more like thought experiments than real stories, delivered with clunky prose and wooden dialogue. The longest story in the bunch, "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," was also the most anticlimactic; it continued to build and build and build and ...more
Peter
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate
2/5
An interesting, albeit derivative concept told in an oddly parable type way. It didn't quite work for me. It's basically a take on time travel with the constraint being that there's always only one timeline. It had some potential, but the mini-stories didn't seem very believable (especially the first one that had a huge plot hole) or were frustrating in how inept the characters were at wrapping their heads around the concept. The climax was disappointing a
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Gavin
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful again, worth the wait - 9 stories (including 4 novellas) in 12 years. The defamiliarisation, the perceptual aid in these is the equal of great philosophical work.

The best bit is his patience and magnanimity with folk psychology. He is much more empathetic with bad philosophy that I am; he builds people very different from himself or me (a worried father writing a moral-panic piece about perfect recall; a young-earth creationist tipped into despair by being god's practice shot), and the
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robb
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
loved it. speculative sci-fi that raises questions about human nature, human consciousness, religion, free will, and our survival of a species as a whole. this guy's a fucking genius; would love to meet him someday.

personal ranking of the stories:
1 - the truth of fact, the truth of feeling
2 - anxiety is the dizziness of freedom
3 - exhalation
4 - the lifecycle of software objects
5 - omphalos
6 - the merchant and the alchemist's gate
7 - the great silence
8 - what's expected of us
9 - dacey's patent au
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Rich Kruse
Pretty much what Daniel said, but I just liked it more. B-
Jason Fass
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book! It has some of the best short stories I’ve read!
Queen
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another genius work! Ted Chiang is king of the short story. Intellectually, I'm riding high from these stories. Emotionally, I'm devastated in the absolute best sense.
Amanda Sie
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
The number of times I can say “this reminds me of a Ted Chiang story” is infinite cuz he writes about everything that matters in life and he does it really really well.
Maya
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything Ted Chiang writes is smart and magical.
Alex Sarll
Given Ted Chiang produces approximately one story every two years, I really shouldn't have devoured his second collection less than two years after finishing the first. But set against that, I did manage to blag an advance copy, which always whets the appetite to take advantage of the early start. Plus, as per the stereotype of my people, I am very greedy. Inevitably, one can only read Chiang for the first time once (though that's the sort of concept out of which he might well get a story), so t ...more
Philipp
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america, short-stories, sf
Chiang is the undisputed king of the 'what-if' SF story - he takes a what-if question and really thinks it all the way through, then sets a story in that universe. That was already the main theme in his first collection (Stories of Your Life And Others), with one story in a world where angels, miracles, and hell are real and angelic visitations are absolutely terrifying (Hell is the absence of God), or one story where the geocentric model is the correct one (Tower of Babylon).

The second collecti
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"Omphalos" An Exploration of Theological Shading 1 2 May 30, 2019 02:02PM  

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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
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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.” 3 likes
“Four things do not come back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity,” 2 likes
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