Claudia's Reviews > Exhalation: Stories

Exhalation by Ted Chiang
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it was amazing
bookshelves: loose-short-stories, deep-thoughts, anthologies-collections, sci-fi, z-to-a-chiang
Read 2 times. Last read May 19, 2019 to May 21, 2019.

He really is the High Master of sci-fi short stories ;)

Three/five minutes reading, here it is:

Merged review:

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 reason for which the universe was created, as you thought?

Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom – the most stunning of all; how does he gets his ideas, beats me…

The others, which I already read, are below. Three of them can be read online, if you care to get a glimpse on Chiang's writing, before enjoying this collection:

The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate – One can't change the past no matter what, but... you'll see what by reading it - a delightful time travel story in the style of Arabian tales One Thousand and One Nights.

Exhalation - An exquisite philosophical introspection of the surrounding universe, meaning of life and what makes us who we are. High-class tech sci-fi; if you loved Stories of Your Life and Others, you'll love this one too.
Can be read here:

What’s Expected of Us - He really is the High Master of sci-fi short stories. It can be read here:

The Lifecycle of Software Objects - The interaction between humans and AIs in a unique approach. The virtual world created seems even more plausible by the almost journal-like style of the story.

Also reading Chiang's afterword makes one realize that even if AIs seems to be a tomorrow achievement, it will be a while until we’ll have Ava amongst us. But in the mean time, you can try see what it’s like interacting with... it/her? You choose ;)

The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling - A brilliant story about truth, weaved from two parallel plans, one about memories (true vs fabricated), the other about words (written vs spoken). Again Chiang manages to produce a brilliant piece. Not at all a light reading but well worthy of your time.

The Great Silence - I read here that Ted Chiang collaborated with artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla to create a story based on their video called “The Great Silence.”

I didn't find on the internet the video but I did find the story, which is more than heart-breaking. It's a cry out loud against the extinction of species. All facts in it are true, the only fiction part is the narrator, which is a parrot; afterall, it's the story of their species.

It approaches the same issue as Liu Cixin in The Three-Body Problem: why human beings are looking for intelligent life in space, when we have it right here:

The humans use Arecibo to look for extraterrestrial intelligence. Their desire to make a connection is so strong that they’ve created an ear capable of hearing across the universe.
But I and my fellow parrots are right here. Why aren’t they interested in listening to our voices?We’re a non-human species capable of communicating with them. Aren’t we exactly what humans are looking for?

The extinction of parrots, especially of African Grey ones is really a major problem. I read some time ago another story on the same subject: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? by Kathleen Ann Goonan. More and more authors are raising the alarm in hope they'll make a change.

Ted Chiang' story can be read here:

And the story of Alex can be found at:
More details on African Grey parrots:

At the end, there are some notes on each story, how it was developed and what inspired it. Really interesting to see how he extrapolated on those ideas.

Bottom line, a great collection if you like SF of ideas.
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Reading Progress

August 25, 2016 – Started Reading
August 25, 2016 – Finished Reading
September 4, 2018 – Shelved
May 19, 2019 – Started Reading
May 21, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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Aerin Lovely review!!

Em Lost In Books Fabulous review, Claudia!

Claudia Thank you, ladies! 😘

JV (semi-hiatus) Marvellous write-up, Claudia! 😊

Claudia Thank you, JV!

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