Exhalation: Stories

Exhalation: StoriesAn Alternate Cover Edition Of This Book Can Be Found HereFrom An Award Winning Science Fiction Writer Whose Short Story The Story Of Your Life Was The Basis For The Academy Award Nominated Movie Arrival , The Long Awaited New Collection Of Stunningly Original, Humane, And Already Celebrated Short StoriesThis 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 This Fantastical And Elegant Collection, 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 There s a lot to love about Ted Chiang s short stories and that s all here to love in this collection He creates amazing worlds, sometimes close to the ones we know and sometimes drastically different Once he s transported the reader into that world he isn t content to just let you look around and enjoy the novelty, he s going to dive into the deepest moral and philosophical questions that world presents And, in a collection of Chiang stories, you get to move from world to world, question to question, so that the depth and breadth of the worlds and questions presented is its own pleasure.I don t want to say much about these stories because the surprise is part of the joy There is time travel, parallel universes, artificial intelligence, and even religion But ultimately there is the human condition, although in Chiang s worlds it can extend well beyond just the human element I sailed through this, savoring the stories There are a couple shorter ones that grabbed me a little less and that mostly just fill out the collection, but otherwise this is a strong and absorbing collection that will stay in your mind for a long time after you finish it. All said, Chiang s new collection rocks I ve read a good number of these in other places, but it doesn t diminish my enjoyment I m referencing the stories I liked the most.The Merchant and the Alchemist s Gate 1001 Nights meets fixed timeline time travel Easily one of my favorites.Exhalation A rather interesting logical breakdown of universal principles from the PoV of a robot race.The Lifecycle of Software Objects Novella, and easily the most wrenching, exploratory of the lot Touches not only on artificial life and AI, but the same kind of feelings we might have for autistic children and trying to save Zoos For pretty much the same reasons And I got rather invested in this I can see it becoming a problem in our future.Dacey s Patent Automatic Nanny So cool A mix of our recentish Science History and a very plausible alternate past, part psychology, part oh, crap, we definitely could have done this to ourselves.The Great Silence A Fermi gut punch.Omphalos A great reversal of an alternate reality, where proof of god s intervention, creation, is everywhere, but scientists come to a startlingly different conclusion Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom Another novella, and fascinating as hell Part self help group, part scam, and all focusing on the nature of alternate reality informational crosstalk I m really surprised at how well this one worked for me I keep noticing how much Chiang loves to mess with our understanding of our basic reality It s a Thing A great Thing How does it compare to the previous collection Neither better nor worse, because it is all him Quality, a lot of exploration in different ways, but always reaching for the same high standard I loved it No complaints at all. Q We spoke for than an hour, and my fascination and respect bloomed like a flower warmed by the dawn, until he mentioned his experiments in alchemy c Q We don t normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.Before a culture adopts the use of writing, when its knowledge is transmitted exclusively through oral means, it can very easily revise its history It s not intentional, but it is inevitable throughout the world, bards and griots have adapted their material to their audiences and thus gradually adjusted the past to suit the needs of the present The idea that accounts of the past shouldn t change is a product of literate cultures reverence for the written word Anthropologists will tell you that oral cultures understand the past differently for them, their histories don t need to be accurate so much as they need to validate the community s understanding of itself So it wouldn t be correct to say that their histories are unreliable their histories do what they need to do.Right now each of us is a private oral culture We rewrite our pasts to suit our needs and support the story we tell about ourselves With our memories we are all guilty of a Whig interpretation of our personal histories, seeing our former selves as steps toward our glorious present selves.But that era is coming to an end Remem is merely the first of a new generation of memory prostheses, and as these products gain widespread adoption, we will be replacing our malleable organic memories with perfect digital archives We will have a record of what we actually did instead of stories that evolve over repeated tellings Within our minds, each of us will be transformed from an oral culture into a literate one.It would be easy for me to assert that literate cultures are better off than oral ones, but my bias should be obvious, since I m writing these words rather than speaking them to you Instead I will say that it s easier for me to appreciate the benefits of literacy and harder to recognize everything it has cost us Literacy encourages a culture to place value on documentation and less on subjective experience, It would be easy for me to assert that literate cultures are better off than oral ones, but my bias should be obvious, since I m writing these words rather than speaking them to you Instead I will say that it s easier for me to appreciate the benefits of literacy and harder to recognize everything it has cost us Literacy encourages a culture to place value on documentation and less on subjective experience, and overall I think the positives outweigh the negatives Written records are vulnerable to every kind of error, and their interpretation is subject to change, but at least the words on the page remain fixed, and there is real merit in that.When it comes to our individual memories, I live on the opposite side of the divide As someone whose identity was built on organic memory, I m threatened by the prospect of removing subjectivity from our recall of events I used to think it could be valuable for individuals to tell stories about themselves, valuable in a way that it couldn t be for cultures, but I m a product of my time, and times change We can t prevent the adoption of digital memory any than oral cultures could stop the arrival of literacy, so the best I can do is look for something positive in it.And I think I ve found the real benefit of digital memory The point is not to prove you were right the point is to admit you were wrong.Because all of us have been wrong on various occasions, engaged in cruelty and hypocrisy, and we ve forgotten most of those occasions And that means we don t really know ourselves How much personal insight can I claim if I can t trust my memory How much can you You re probably thinking that, while your memory isn t perfect, you ve never engaged in revisionism of the magnitude I m guilty of But I was just as certain as you, and I was wrong You may say, I know I m not perfect I ve made mistakes I am here to tell you that you have made than you think, that some of the core assumptions on which your self image is built are actually lies c Q The Fermi Paradox is sometimes known as the Great Silence The universe ought to be a cacophony of voices, but instead it is disconcertingly quiet c Q Only a species of vocal learners would ascribe such importance to sound in their mythologies We parrots can appreciate that c Q Lord, I place myself in your presence, and ask you to shine your light into my heart as I look back upon this day, so that I may see clearly your grace in everything that has happened c Q for myself, the most precious knowledge I possess is this Nothing erases the past There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness That is all, but that is enough c Ted Chiang is a master of short fiction, no doubt about it He may not be the most empathic writer, but his ideas and topics are absolutely brilliant.This collection has 9 stories, from which only 3 were new for me Here they areDacey s Patent Automatic Nannywhat would be like if our children would be raised by robotic nannies A bit unnervingOmphaloshow will your perception of Earth history will change if you ll learn that the Earth does not have 8912 years and humanity is not the reason for which the universe was created, as you thoughtAnxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedomthe most stunning of all how does he gets his ideas, beats me The others, which I already read, are below Three of them can be read online, if you care to get a glimpse on Chiang s writing, before enjoying this collectionThe Merchant and the Alchemist s GateOne can t change the past no matter what, but you ll see what by reading it a delightful time travel story in the style of Arabian tales One Thousand and One NightsExhalationAn exquisite philosophical introspection of the surrounding universe, meaning of life and what makes us who we are High class tech sci fi if you loved Stories of Your Life and Others, you ll love this one too Can be read hereWhat s Expected of UsHe really is the High Master of sci fi short stories It can be read hereThe Lifecycle of Software ObjectsThe interaction between humans and AIs in a unique approach The virtual world created seems even plausible by the almost journal like style of the story Also reading Chiang s afterword makes one realize that even if AIs seems to be a tomorrow achievement, it will be a while until we ll have Ava amongst us But in the mean time, you can try see what it s like interacting with it her You chooseThe Truth of Fact, the Truth of FeelingA brilliant story about truth, weaved from two parallel plans, one about memories true vs fabricated , the other about words written vs spoken Again Chiang manages to produce a brilliant piece Not at all a light reading but well worthy of your timeThe Great SilenceI read here that Ted Chiang collaborated with artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla to create a story based on their video called The Great Silence I didn t find on the internet the video but I did find the story, which is than heart breaking It s a cry out loud against the extinction of species All facts in it are true, the only fiction part is the narrator, which is a parrot afterall, it s the story of their species.It approaches the same issue as Liu Cixin in The Three Body Problem why human beings are looking for intelligent life in space, when we have it right here The humans use Arecibo to look for extraterrestrial intelligence Their desire to make a connection is so strong that they ve created an ear capable of hearing across the universe.But I and my fellow parrots are right here Why aren t they interested in listening to our voices We re a non human species capable of communicating with them Aren t we exactly what humans are looking for The extinction of parrots, especially of African Grey ones is really a major problem I read some time ago another story on the same subject Where Do We Come From What Are We Where Are We Going by Kathleen Ann Goonan More and authors are raising the alarm in hope they ll make a change Ted Chiang story can be read here And the story of Alex can be found at More details on African Grey parrots At the end, there are some notes on each story, how it was developed and what inspired it Really interesting to see how he extrapolated on those ideas.Bottom line, a great collection if you like SF of ideas. 3.5 An excellent, varied collection, one that made me think I should read short science fiction Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom was definitely my favourite It imagines a world not much different from our own, except for the ubiquity of prisms These are devices which allow a person to communicate with their parallel self or paraself in an alternate dimension or branch , which is seemingly created by the activation of the prism itself There s a lot going on, from a prism store manager scamming customers out of their savings with the help of his paraselves to the addition of Dana, a therapist who helps those with prism use problems, and who is troubled by a misstep from her own past but it works The protagonist, Nat, might be the most complex character in the whole book, and the story isn t even all about her I loved the scenes with Dana and her clients, and the prism support group so perfectly sketched The Lifecycle of Software Objects is a novella in itself, and was previously published as a standalone book It follows Ana, a former zookeeper, as she accepts a friend s offer to work on the development of AIs known as digients Initially designed as cute, pet like creatures with animal and robot avatars, the digients gradually evolve and learn until they possess intelligence comparable to that of humans But as the company that creates them is shuttered and changing technology leaves them behind, Ana and her friend Derek who are among the few to have formed strong emotional attachments to their digients are faced with difficult choices As I read, I found myself being drawn into Ana s maternal relationship to her digient, Jax The fate of the digients is both heartbreaking and disturbing, making the title of the story bitterly apposite.The stories in Exhalation are often strong on plot and weak on character the idea that Derek has feelings for Ana, for example, is repeatedly mentioned, but I never really felt it Omphalos diverges from that, creating a sense of connection to its characters It depicts a world in which primordial artefacts offer physical evidence of God s creation The narrator, Dorothea, is a devout believer, but finding stolen artefacts for sale in a museum shop leads her down a path that brings her faith into question The story is told as a series of prayers, an effective device which does a lot to bring Dorothea to life, communicating her faith in both God and science, and the pain caused by her increasing doubt The Merchant and the Alchemist s Gate is a delightfully engaging time travel tale The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling weaves together past and future narratives, both of which suggest that the ability to recall events perfectly whether via a written record or video logging software is not necessarily a suitable replacement for human memory, subjective and unreliable as it may be Exhalation is one of those sci fi stories that throws up questions than it answers, and I couldn t stop being distracted by all the unknowns I didn t care how the robots or whatever worked, I wanted to know how they had come to be, whether they were supposed to exist within a future version of our world or in an alien society, etc Similarly, What s Expected of Us centres on a brilliant idea simple devices known as Predictors cause a widespread breakdown of belief in free will but doesn t do as much with it as I would ve liked.I enjoyed reading the author s notes at the end they offer small but important clues to the stories backgrounds When I learned that The Great Silence was originally part of an art installation, I understood better why it didn t really work for me And while I did enjoy Dacey s Patent Automatic Nanny in its own right, the fact that it was written as part of an anthology structured around the bizarre devices in a collector s cabinet of curiosities gives important context.If you like Chiang s stories, I would recommend Alexander Weinstein s Children of the New World I wish I could wipe that book from my memory and read it for the first time all over again there s just nothing else that compares.I received an advance review copy of Exhalation from the publisher through Edelweiss.TinyLetter Twitter Instagram Tumblr 4.5 starsA must for any Ted Chiang s fan Only two new stories, but really strong ones, and, of course, it s always a pleasure to reread Chiang s old stories. I just love Ted Chiang I read his earlier collection of short stories a few months ago and all the praise I heaped on him then are still true with Exhalation His style is completely unique, and while he sometimes plays with old ideas, he has a way of making them fresh, bright and very thought provoking.Just as with Stories of Your Life and Others , there are a couple of less than stellar stories here, but they don t diminish the quality of this collection Here are the highlights from my favorites The Merchant and the Alchemist Gate Don t you just love a 1,001 Nights kind of story I know I do And just as he reworked Biblical myth gorgeously, here Chiang channels Scheherazade perfectly to tell a tale of time travel, and ultimately, of love Superb The Life Cycle of Software Objects actually brought to mind a game some of you might remember I never played Faunasphere, but my husband wrote a book about it , and the way people got attached to their digital pets in the game is so similar to the relationships developed between the creators of the digients they care for It s also a fascinating reflection on AIs as something not threatening for a change The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling explores the idea that the technology we use eventually shapes the way our cognitive capacities work, the way they influence our perceptions to a rather moving ending I ll be chewing on this one for a while The Great Silence is both humorous and an interesting shift in the perspective we use to define sentient life capable of communication Kurt Vonnegut would be proud of this one Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom I ve never seen a story that explores the idea of free will and the parallel worlds theory quite that way For a while, I wondered where we were going with this Black Mirror type story addiction to technology, predatory business practices linked to technology usage But then it got wrapped up in a very human, compassionate way, and it was perfect.If you are not already a Ted Chiag fan, I suggest you get your hands on any of his short story collections Fantastic sci fi If you re into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Nothing Erases the Past Exhalation Stories by Ted Chiang Nothing erases the past There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness That is all, but that is enough In The Merchant and the Alchemist s Gate by Ted ChiangI could write a review for each one of the stories in this collection, but my favourite is the The Merchant and the Alchemist s Gate.If I had a Time Machine, I would save my time machine journey time just in case it breaks down after too much use until I had paid someone to type out the whole Harry Potter series for me and would travel back to just before J.K Rowling started writing them and start negotiations with publishers Four things do not come back the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunityExhalation is a collections of short stories, The Merchant and the Alchemist s Gate, Exhalation , What s expected of us , The Lifecycle of Software Objects , Dacey s Patent Automatic Nanny , The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling , The Great Silence , Omphalos and Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom Some of these stories have been published before, but this was my first experience with the author so everything was new for me I fell in love with this book immediately, from the first story I have never read a sci fi book set in an ancient fairytale like Islamic culture, and I have to say it works very well Very interesting and original The second story was the weirdest for me, and somewhat hard to follow but still very interesting because of the amount of philosophical repercussions that are discussed inside the story itself, and not mainly in the afterwords which, incidentally, are very interesting and I never felt the need to skip them like in the rest of the book One of the stories, The Lifecycle of Software Objects , felt very long compared to the rest and almost like a short novel I appreciated the theory underneath and the character built, but the plot and especially the ending didn t satisfy me This was my least favourite The new stories, Omphalos and Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom , were both extremely interesting, and the last one in particular had a marked Black Mirror feeling to it and, well, Black Mirror is my favourite series, so This book made me realize that, even though I am a sci fi fan, I don t usually read contemporary sci fi, but I tend to go for the classics, like Asimov or Sturgeon Compared to those, modern sci fi has some of the same themes, one of them being A.I, and the general repercussions of technological progress on the life and morals of human beings but some of them are different and recurrent in today s imagination companionship, pets, recording memories, paradoxes and alternate realities This last idea, in particular the idea generated by discoveries in quantum physics that parallel universes may exist in which same situations have different outcomes, thus creating an infinite number of possible timelines that exist all on different dimensions and the consequences it necessary has on the paradox of time travel, has been the main concept of at least three books I read this year Sci fi tales deal with different ideas throughout the years, but I think the fil rouge that connects all of them is the longing fear for progress The thin line between utopia and dystopia is often of a moral nature should creatures that have human like intelligence but are created in a digital world have access to human rights , but often is just a matter of perspective For example, in the short story The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling , the author explores the repercussions of having a photographic memory that is not subjective to the normal mechanisms of forgetting and rewriting At first, he expresses fear for the way it would change the human brain and our society in general, but ultimately he compares it to the invention of writing a way to objectively record facts that were previously only told orally , showing that these kind of doubts have always been in the human mind, acting as a balancing force against mindless progress Yes, these major discoveries change society at the core But does this mean we should refuse them Every time I read about this idea, it reminds me of my art teacher, who refused to learn how to create digital art because when he was a student he would only use a pencil, and believed that what is not done by hand is not real art or students at my university who refused to use digitization of documents because the first philologists didn t have computers and they were doing just fine I wish I would have asked them at the time, what do you think those ancient philologists would think of you, if they knew what incredible technology you had and refused to use it just because Damn, Van Gogh would have probably given a ear to try Photoshop ahah Anyway, what I wanted to say is that fear of the unknown it instilled in human nature, and so are many of the themes discussed in this book history that repeats itself, like the discovery of Earth orbit compared to the discovery of a static star in the short story The Great Silence , for example and that is why we find them in many authors through the years But it s the way you use those concepts as a starting ponit for your creativity, that gives birth to original art And I think this book is exactly that A new favourite Can t wait to check out from this author

Ted Chiang is an American speculative fiction writer His Chinese name is Chiang Feng nan He graduated from Brown University with a Computer Science degree He currently works as a technical writer in the software industry and resides in Bellevue, near Seattle, Washington He is a graduate of the noted Clarion Writers Workshop 1989.Although not a prolific author, having published only eleven sh

[Read] ➮ Exhalation: Stories ➶ Ted Chiang – Stockbag.info
  • Hardcover
  • 351 pages
  • Exhalation: Stories
  • Ted Chiang
  • English
  • 25 August 2019

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