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Ted Chiang

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“Exhalation by Ted Chiang is 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, via Facebook

“Lean, relentless, and incandescent.”

—Colson Whitehead

“Illuminating, thrilling…. Like such eclectic predecessors as Philip K. Dick, James Tiptree, Jr., Jorge Luis Borges, Ursula K. Le Guin, Margaret Atwood, Haruki Murakami, China Miéville, and Kazuo Ishiguro, Chiang has explored conventional tropes of science fiction in highly unconventional ways…. Individual sentences possess the windowpane transparency that George Orwell advocated as a prose ideal…. It is both a surprise and a relief to encounter fiction that explores counterfactual worlds like these with…ardor and earnestness…. Human curiosity, for Chiang, is a nearly divine engine of progress.”

—Joyce Carol Oates, The New Yorker

From the acclaimed author of Stories of Your Life and Others—the basis for the Academy Award-nominated film Arrival: a groundbreaking new collection of short fiction.


In these nine stunningly original, provocative, and poignant stories, Ted Chiang tackles some of humanity’s oldest questions along with new quandaries only he 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 in this collection as well as some of his rare and classic uncollected work, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic—revelatory.

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