Exhalation: Stories

Exhalation: Stories

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 storiesThis much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic...

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Title:Exhalation: Stories
Author:Ted Chiang
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Exhalation: Stories Reviews

  • Marcheto

    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.

  • 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:

    – what would be like if our children would be raised by robotic nannies. A bit unnerving…

    – 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

    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:

    – what would be like if our children would be raised by robotic nannies. A bit unnerving…

    – 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?

    – 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:

    – 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.

    - 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

    , you'll love this one too.

    Can be read here:

    - He really is the High Master of sci-fi short stories. It can be read here:

    - 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

    amongst us. But in the mean time, you can try see what it’s like

    ... it/her? You choose ;)

    - 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.

    - I read

    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

    : why human beings are looking for intelligent life in space, when we have it right here:

    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:

    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.

  • Blair

    (3.5) An excellent, varied collection, one that made me think I should read more short science fiction.

    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

    (3.5) An excellent, varied collection, one that made me think I should read more short science fiction.

    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 manager scamming customers out of their savings (with the help of his paraselves) to the addition of Dana, a therapist who helps those with prism-use problems, and who is troubled by a misstep from her own past – but it works. The protagonist, Nat, might be the most complex character in the whole book, and the story isn't even all about her. I loved the scenes with Dana and her clients, and the prism support group; so perfectly sketched.

    is a novella in itself, and was previously published as

    . It follows Ana, a former zookeeper, as she accepts a friend's offer to work on the development of AIs known as 'digients'. Initially designed as cute, pet-like creatures with animal and robot avatars, the digients gradually evolve and learn until they possess intelligence comparable to that of humans. But as the company that creates them is shuttered and changing technology leaves them behind, Ana and her friend Derek – who are among the few to have formed strong emotional attachments to their digients – are faced with difficult choices. As I read, I found myself being drawn into Ana's maternal relationship to her digient, Jax. The fate of the digients is both heartbreaking and disturbing, making the title of the story bitterly apposite.

    The stories in

    are often strong on plot and weak on character: the idea that Derek has feelings for Ana, for example, is repeatedly mentioned, but I never really

    it.

    diverges from that, creating a sense of connection to its characters. It depicts a world in which primordial artefacts offer physical evidence of God's creation. The narrator, Dorothea, is a devout believer, but finding stolen artefacts for sale in a museum shop leads her down a path that brings her faith into question. The story is told as a series of prayers, an effective device which does a lot to bring Dorothea to life, communicating her faith in both God and science, and the pain caused by her increasing doubt.

    is a delightfully engaging time-travel tale.

    weaves together past and future narratives, both of which suggest that the ability to recall events perfectly – whether via a written record or video-logging software – is not necessarily a suitable replacement for human memory, subjective and unreliable as it may be.

    is one of those sci-fi stories that throws up more questions than it answers, and I couldn't stop being distracted by all the unknowns. I didn't care how the robots (or whatever) worked, I wanted to know how they had come to

    whether they were supposed to exist within a future version of our world or in an alien society, etc. Similarly,

    centres on a brilliant idea – simple devices known as 'Predictors' cause a widespread breakdown of belief in free will – but doesn't do as much with it as I would've liked.

    I enjoyed reading the author's notes at the end; they offer small but important clues to the stories' backgrounds. When I learned that

    was originally part of an art installation, I understood better why it didn't really work for me. And while I did enjoy

    in its own right, the fact that it was written as part of an anthology – structured around the bizarre devices in a collector's 'cabinet of curiosities' – gives important context.

    If you like Chiang's stories, I would recommend Alexander Weinstein's

    I wish I could wipe that book from my memory and read it for the first time all over again; there's just nothing else that compares.

    Exhalation

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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

    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 question, so that the depth and breadth of the worlds and questions presented is its own pleasure.

    I don't want to say much about these stories because the surprise is part of the joy. There is time travel, parallel universes, artificial intelligence, and even religion. But ultimately there is the human condition, although in Chiang's worlds it can extend well beyond just the human element. I sailed through this, savoring the stories. There are a couple shorter ones that grabbed me a little less and that mostly just fill out the collection, but otherwise this is a strong and absorbing collection that will stay in your mind for a long time after you finish it.

  • Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this,

    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

    If you're into stuff like this,

    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 time (just in case it breaks down after too much use) until I had paid someone to type out the whole Harry Potter series for me and would travel back to just before J.K. Rowling started writing them and start negotiations with publishers...

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