Tuesday 7 May 2019

Exhalation : Stories by Ted Chiang - A Review

In today's post we are talking about a collection of science fiction stories, that comes out today (7th May) by Knopf. It is the book Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang. 

I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.

The name of the author is probably very familiar to you. That is because Ted Chiang is an award-winning science fiction writer (whose short story "The Story of Your Life" was the basis for the Academy Award-nominated movie Arrival). 

This is his long-awaited new collection of original, humane, and already celebrated short stories. These are tales that tackle some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only Ted Chiang could imagine.
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", where he talks about the ability to glimpse into alternate universes that  necessitates a radically new examination of the concepts of choice and free will.

Unfortunately this collection of short stories isn't for me. I can't say I didn't like it at all, because there were stories that I enjoyed. From the nine stories I really liked two of them and two more were okay.

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate, which had time travel and some magic into it.
The Lifecycle of Software Objects, which was about A.I. as pets and it was very thoughtful and beautiful story.

Of course, no one can deny that Ted Chiang writes in a stunningly original, provocative, and poignant way. 

The collection includes stories that were previously published in magazines or anthologies but there are also two brand new stories. The first seven stories were the "old" ones and the last two, Ompalos and Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom, were the new ones. I also liked some aspects of the new stories. 

Overall, I think that this book was not aimed me but at people who are more familiar with science fiction that I am. If you enjoy science fiction and Ted Chiang stories and writing, I think you will love this collection. 

You can buy this book from Book Depository using this link (affiliate link)


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