‘One of the most exciting writers in science fiction . . . Although dark in premise, these parables – threaded through with references to ancient mythology and folklore – are filled with hope and humanism: a balm for anxious souls.’ – Daily Telegraph
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. These are tales that tackle some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries that only Ted Chiang 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 errors 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. 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.
In Exhalation, Ted Chiang addresses the most fundamental of issues – What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human? – alongside others 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.
‘Deeply beautiful stories . . . Each thoughtful, elegantly crafted story poses a philosophical question; Chiang curates all nine into a conversation that comes full circle, after having traversed remarkable terrain.’ – New York Times ‘The 10 Best Books of 2019’
‘Chiang’s writing . . . inspires awe for the natural properties of the universe; it renders the fundamentals of science poignant and affecting.’ – Economist
‘A scintillating cavalcade of ideas . . . Chiang breathes new life into well-worn SF themes such as time travel, artificial intelligence and parallel universes.’ – Financial Times ‘Books of the Year’
'Like such eclectic predecessors as Philip K. Dick... Jorge Luis Borges, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, China Mieville, and Kazuo Ishiguro, Chiang has explored conventional tropes of science fiction in highly unconventional ways... Magically inventive... each [story is]... likely to linger in the memory the way riddles may linger - teasing, tormenting, illuminating, thrilling.' * New Yorker * '[Chiang] is so good that this book qualifies as an event.' * Newsday * 'Chiang is a master. . . . The Alice Munro of science fiction.' * LitHub * 'Chiang is always thought provoking, and his latest collection is no exception.' * Library Journal starred review * 'Explores emotional and physical landscapes with precise and incisive prose... Chiang remains one of the most skilled stylists in SF, and this will appeal to genre and literary-fiction fans alike.' * Booklist starred review * Each of his devastating stories mines little pieces of humanity from unexpected points of view. * Vulture * '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 * '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 * '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 * So jammed with brilliant, mind-exploding ideas it's like the author packed fireworks between the covers. * National Public Radio * Breaks down what it really means to be human. * Time * '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 '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 * Illuminating, thrilling . . . Individual sentences possess the windowpane transparency that George Orwell advocated as a prose ideal. -- Joyce Carol Oates * New Yorker * Ted Chiang's stories are lean, relentless, and incandescent. -- Colson Whitehead We all know Ted Chiang is a fucking genius, but: Ted Chiang is a fucking genius. -- Carmen Maria Machado A beguiling mix of compassion and awe, worthy of comparisons to the work of Philip K. Dick . . . An immensely pleasing book. * San Francisco Chronicle * Deeply beautiful . . . This book is as generous as it is marvelous, and I'm left feeling nothing so much as grateful for it. * New York Times * As much thought experiments as stories, Ted Chiang's exquisite mechanisms employ science fiction as an instrument to probe the human condition. Like the chronicler of Exhalation's title narrative, he opens the back of his own head and lays bare its mysterious golden motion for the hushed appreciation of an awestruck audience. Beautifully written and conceived, this is a marvellous, astonishing collection that we would do well to read before the worlds it conjures are upon us. Urgently recommended. -- Alan Moore
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