From the acclaimed author of Stories of Your Life and Others – the basis for the Academy Award nominated film Arrival – comes a groundbreaking second collection of short fiction: nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories.
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 Also included are two previously unpublished stories: ‘Omphalos’ and ‘Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom’.
In Exhalation, 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.
Ted Chiang has gained a rapturous following within the genre and beyond. One of the most influential science-fiction writers of his generation, his stories are unusually moving. (New Yorker)
Chiang’s writing shines with a brutal, minimalist elegance. Every sentence is the perfect incision in the dissection of the idea at hand . . . Chiang is all the more conspicuous for his absence from all forms of authorial self-promotion . . . Perhaps he’s simply busy doing what he does best – writing great stories. (Guardian)
The best science-fiction writer of his generation. (The Economist)
We all know Ted Chiang is a fucking genius, but: Ted Chiang is a fucking genius. (Carmen Maria Machado)
‘Ted Chiang’s stories are lean, relentless, and incandescent.’ (Colson Whitehead)
‘Ted Chiang has no contemporary peers... His name deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Carver, Poe, Borges, and Kafka. Every story is a universe. Every story is a diamond. You will inhale Exhalation in a single, stunned sitting, because true genius doesn’t come along nearly as often as advertised. This is the real thing.’ (Blake Crouch)
‘Ted Chiang writes with such a matter-of-fact grace and visionary power that one simply takes on faith that his worlds and his characters exist, whether they are human or robot or parrot; he is the rare author who makes me feel, also, that he believes in his readers, in our integrity and our imagination.’ (Karen Russell)
‘Meticulously crafted and innovative short fiction... Chiang's stories are uniformly notable for a fusion of pure intellect and molten emotion... narrative[s] of refined human sensitivity and soulfulness... While this combination represents the ideal definition and practice of all science fiction, it's seldom achieved... Masterful and striking... plucks both heartstrings and gray matter in equal measure.’ (Washington Post)
‘Chiang produces deeply moving drama from fascinating first premises… These stories are brilliant experiments, and [Chiang’s] commitment to exploring deep human questions elevates them to among the very best science fiction.’ (Publisher’s Weekly starred review)
‘This stellar collection... begins with an instant classic... Visionary speculative stories that will change the way readers see themselves and the world around them: This book delivers in a big way.’ (Kirkus starred review)