This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. 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 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.
PRAISE FOR EXHALATION
'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
'The stories in Exhalation are a shining example of science fiction at its best. They take both science and humanism deeply seriously, which is why it's so satisfying to watch Chiang's shining, intricate machine at work: You know that whatever the machine builds, it will tell you something new about human beings.' Vox
'This collection is a stunning achievement in speculative fiction, from an author whose star will only continue to rise.' Los Angeles Review of Books
'likely to linger in the memory the way riddles may linger-teasing, tormenting, illuminating, thrilling.' New Yorker
'Chiang is, among other things, a short story specialist... He takes an idea (sometimes big, sometimes small, most often somewhere nebulously in-between) and gives it exactly the number of words it needs.' NPR