“The universe began as an enormous breath being held.”
From the acclaimed author of Stories of Your Life and Others—the basis for the Academy Award –nominated film Arrival—comes a groundbreaking new 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 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 mistakes and second chances. In “Exhalation,” an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications that are literally universal. 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.
Including stories being published for the first time as well as some of his rare and classic uncollected work, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic—revelatory.
About the Author
Ted Chiang’s fiction has won four Hugo, four Nebula, and four Locus awards, and has been featured in The Best American Short Stories. His debut collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, has been translated into twenty-one languages. He was born in Port Jefferson, New York, and currently lives near Seattle, Washington.
“Ted Chiang’s stories are lean, relentless, and incandescent.” —Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad
“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, author of Orange World “Ted Chiang has no contemporary peers when it comes to the short story form. 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, author of Dark Matter
“Exquisitely crafted. . . . One after another, Chiang’s stories claim their place in your mind until you’re completely swept up in his provocative and at times even charming world. . . . Each story is a carefully considered, finely honed machine. . . . What makes Exhalation particularly brilliant is that not one of the stories feels like it’s designed to be thought-provoking in a stilted, academic way. Chiang is an entertaining, empathetic writer first, before being one of contemporary sci-fi’s intellectual powerhouses, and each story reads that way. . . . [Chiang is] one of the most exciting voices in his field.” —BookPage (starred review)
“Chiang’s long-awaited second collection. . .continues to explore emotional and metaphysical landscapes with precise and incisive prose. . . . Chiang remains one of the most skilled stylists in sf, and this will appear to genre and literary-fiction fans alike.” —Booklist (starred review)
“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 Reviews (starred review)
“Chiang produces deeply moving drama from fascinating first premises. . . . These stories are brilliant experiments, and his commitment to exploring deep human questions elevates them to among the very best science fiction.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) “Chiang is always thought provoking, and his latest collection is no exception.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Chiang is a master. . . . The Alice Munro of science fiction.” —LitHub
“Ted Chiang is one of the best science fiction writers in the field today.” —The Verge
“[Chiang] is so good that this book qualifies as an event.” —Newsday
“From Ted Chiang’s singular mind comes another innovative and mind-bending collection of short stories. With boundless empathy, curiosity, and wisdom, Chiang asks all the important questions that come with being human. Reading Exhalation is like standing outside on a clear, starry night. Chiang’s writing does what good writing should: make the universe feel both vast and small at the same time.” —Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye, Vitamin “Ted Chiang brings to science fiction both the refined human insight of the best contemporary literature and the shapeliness and resonance of myth. Stories of Your Life and Others has proven to be one of the finest collections of the last twenty years, and Exhalation, if anything, outdistances it. Surely the grace, lucidity, intensity, heart, and intelligence of these stories will allow them to endure.” —Kevin Brockmeier, author of The View From the Seventh Layer
“There’s so much excellence in the labyrinth of ideas in Exhalation—machines that question free will, AIs that challenge love, software that shapes memory—what truly astounds is the tenderness that pulses through each story like a heartbeat. When I read Ted Chiang, I am reminded not only of what might be, but what is: our own humanity, realized again and again through wonder, language, and empathy. He is not only at the top of his genre, but a true storyteller, and one of our most skilled and fascinating. I am so excited to live in a world where Ted Chiang is writing.” —Aja Gabel, author of The Ensemble