Cover image for Exhalation : stories
Title:
Exhalation : stories
Uniform Title:
Short stories. Selections
ISBN:
9781101947883
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
350 pages ; 22 cm.
Contents:
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 -- Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom -- Story Notes -- Acknowledgments.
Summary:
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 shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. And in "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over twenty years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: "Omphalos" and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom." In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth--What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?--and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.
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Book SCI_FI FANTASY CHI 0 1
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Summary

Summary

ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

A NATIONAL BESTSELLER

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR:
THE WASHINGTON POST * TIME MAGAZINE * NPR * ESQUIRE * VOX * THE A.V. CLUB * THE GUARDIAN * FINANCIAL TIMES * THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS

" Exhalation by Ted Chiang is a collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction." --Barack Obama, via Facebook

"THE UNIVERSE BEGAN AS AN ENORMOUS BREATH BEING HELD."

In these nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories, Ted Chiang tackles some of humanity's oldest questions along with new quandaries only he could imagine.

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 second chances. In "Exhalation," an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. In "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom," the ability to glimpse into alternate universes necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.

Including stories being published for the first time as well as some of his rare and classic uncollected work, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic--revelatory.


Author Notes

Ted Chiang's fiction has won four Hugo, four Nebula, and four Locus awards, and has been featured in The Best American Short Stories . His debut collection, Stories of Your Life and Others , has been translated into twenty-one languages. He was born in Port Jefferson, New York, and currently lives near Seattle, Washington.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hugo- and Nebula-winner Chiang's standout second collection (after 2002's Stories of Your Life and Others) explores the effects that technology and knowledge have on consciousness, free will, and the human desire for meaning. These nine stories introduce life-changing inventions and new worlds with radically different physical laws. In each, Chiang produces deeply moving drama from fascinating first premises. The title story follows a scientist whose self-experimentation reveals both the origin and eventual fate of consciousness. In "What's Expected of Us," a small device horrifically alters human behavior. Chiang's rigorous worldbuilding makes hard science fiction out of stories that would otherwise be fable, as in the Hugo and Nebula-winning novelette "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," a time travel story that employs both relativistic physics and an Arabian Nights-style structure. Others grapple with robots parenting humans, humans parenting AIs, the Fermi paradox, quantum mechanics, and what it means to be a sentient creature facing a potentially deterministic universe. As Chiang's endnotes attest, these stories are brilliant experiments, and his commitment to exploring deep human questions elevates them to among the very best science fiction. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Chiang's long-awaited second collection (after Stories of Your Life (2002), the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival) continues to explore emotional and metaphysical landscapes with precise and incisive prose. The stories range in length from ""The Great Silence,"" a brief and mournful account of humanity's search for other intelligent life from the point of view of a parrot, to ""The Lifecycle of Software Objects,"" a novella told from the perspective of the inventors and caretakers of digients, sentient software beings. Many stories explore the dynamics of a radically different cosmos, such as the titular ""Exhalation,"" set in a sealed metal world whose mechanical inhabitants rely on continuous supplies of air to operate their bodies, or the previously unpublished ""Omphalos,"" about a world where visible evidence of an active and creative God is everywhere. Other stories explore scenarios involving radical changes in human consciousness, such as ""Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,"" where technology that allows communication with alternate selves results in a whole new set of anxieties and complexes. Chiang remains one of the most skilled stylists in sf, and this will appeal to genre and literary-fiction fans alike.--Nell Keep Copyright 2019 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

Lost and profoundly myopic souls abound in Tanen's tale - the Y.A. author's debut adult novel - of two dysfunctional families. Marty Kessler, a 75-year-old retired movie producer who "made the geeks the heroes long before that idea had occurred to anyone else," is a mess. As are his adult daughters, Janine and Amanda. The cause? Perhaps Hollywood, an industry Marty considers "fundamentally corrupt and immoral," or perhaps the Kesslers' own tendencies: They have always "glossed over the horrors" of their lives. And there are many. His fortune is dwindling, a manipulative girlfriend wants what's left, and family unity eludes him. His daughters have been at loggerheads ever since Janine was a child television star. At 41, Janine is fragile and reclusive, avoiding both the world at large and that of "fallen celebrity." Amanda functions, but is jealous, divorcing and raising competitively bratty twin girls. To top it all off, Marty's addicted to opioids. Is this a way to kill time, because he's old and nobody cares "how decent a man he'd once been, how dedicated a father he was, or how many Academy Awards he had"? Bunny Small, newly 70, is the rich and famous author of a supremely successful Y.A. series. Biting and cruel, she's been hiding in her London flat, stricken by the writer's block she doesn't believe in, drinking uncontrollably. "Bunny wasn't dead but she wouldn't have minded if she had been." Her only child, Henry, decamped to Los Angeles at 22 after "a life of humiliation and parental neglect," and he's now an art history professor. Bunny explains the separation as her son's "decades-long hissy fit because she'd named the little hero in her novels after him." Where do the orbits of these families intersect? Marty and Bunny, wedded briefly long ago, end up at the same Malibu rehab, setting up a romantic-comedy-style meetcute involving their respective offspring. The oft-mined tropes here would have benefited from more original insights and deeper humor, and the novel's tone never fully settles; still, one wholeheartedly hopes that they all find some measure of future happiness.


Kirkus Review

Exploring humankind's place in the universe and the nature of humanity, many of the stories in this stellar collection focus on how technological advances can impact humanity's evolutionary journey.Chiang's (Stories of Your Life and Others, 2002) second collection begins with an instant classic, "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," which won Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novelette in 2008. A time-travel fantasy set largely in ancient Baghdad, the story follows fabric merchant Fuwaad ibn Abbas after he meets an alchemist who has crafted what is essentially a time portal. After hearing life-changing stories about others who have used the portal, he decides to go back in time to try to right a terrible wrongand realizes, too late, that nothing can erase the past. Other standout selections include "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," a story about a software tester who, over the course of a decade, struggles to keep a sentient digital entity alive; "The Great Silence," which brilliantly questions the theory that humankind is the only intelligent race in the universe; and "Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny," which chronicles the consequences of machines raising human children. But arguably the most profound story is "Exhalation" (which won the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Short Story), a heart-rending message and warning from a scientist of a highly advanced, but now extinct, race of mechanical beings from another universe. Although the being theorizes that all life will die when the universes reach "equilibrium," its parting advice will resonate with everyone: "Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so."Visionary speculative stories that will change the way readers see themselves and the world around them: This book delivers in a big way. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Chiang (Stories of Your Life and Others) is always thought provoking, and his latest collection is no exception. "The Lifecycle of Software Objects" considers artificial intelligence, with one woman wondering if they should be treated as living beings. "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" asks, if the past cannot change, is life driven by fate? "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" posits a future in which we record every moment of our lives and how that affects us, with a second narrative featuring a man who learns to read and write and its impact on his oral storytelling culture. Two of the nine pieces are new: "Omphalos" deals with creationism as science, and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom" centers on talking to our other selves in alternate worlds. VERDICT Any sf reader can dive into these stories and find something exciting. Especially recommended for fans of Greg Egan, Ken Liu, and Netflix's Black -Mirror. [See Prepub Alert, 11/19/18]-Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.