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Exhalation

Stories
Written by: Ted Chiang
Length: 11 hrs and 22 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

A National Best Seller

One of the Best Books of The Year: The Washington Post • Time Magazine • NPR • Esquire • Vox • the A.V. Club • the Guardian • Financial Times • the Dallas Morning News

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) 

"The universe began as an enormous breath being held."

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 as well as some of his rare and classic uncollected work, Exhalation is Ted Chiang at his best: profound, sympathetic - revelatory. 

©2019 Ted Chiang (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow. Great Science Fiction

Ted Chiang is a fantastic writer. Each short story in this compendium is accompanied by a note from the author explaining how he was thinking when he wrote the story. The guy is brilliant. Love how he thinks.
Readers are great. Only a couple of annoying accents while reading. Well worth a listen

1 person found this helpful

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Delightful collection of thought-provoking stories

I really enjoyed listening to this collection of Ted Chiang stories. I have long appreciated Chiang's approach to storytelling, which is both emotionally sensitive and scientifically rigorous.

Some of these stories I have read before, but the appreciated them anew because of the strength of the performances here.

My only complaint about this particular audiobook is that the final story is mislabeled in the Audible player.

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  • Brian
  • 2019-05-15

Masterful and singular

TC's stories will resonate and stick with you for years. They're often sophisticated concepts told through a human perspective of experience. Great writing, dialog, narration. As the stories unfold they fill you with wonder, horror and satisfaction alike.

To describe TC's work, I ask you to imagine the best of Twilight Zone and Stephen King, with the sci-fi concepts of Liu Cixin and Hannu Rajaniemi with a dash of China Mieville; Then experienced through the heart-rendering relatableness of Kazuo Ishiguro.

This collection and "Stories of your life..." are among the top 10 most recommended to friends and colleagues.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Ocean State Prime
  • 2019-09-18

Like most short story collections, uneven

A couple gems in this collection and some I felt were stinkers. The really long one about the lives of digital creatures I found to be uninteresting; I can't remember now if I even stuck it out to the end of it. Reader quality also is uneven.

7 people found this helpful

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  • ruddyadam
  • 2019-05-14

A surprisingly transcendent listening experience

So this collection of stories, all narrated by a different reader (I think!), we're done expertly and are each followed by an author's note presented by Ted Chiang himself - a nice touch that closes each story well, and gives you a moment to decompress.

I really loved the writing of each of these stories because they are undeniably sci-fi, yet they don't try to wow you with the mystifying tech or ideas presented within, even though there is plenty of that to be had.

Instead, in this case, Ted Chiang uses the genre as a canvas by which these introspective, thought- provoking tales are brought to life before the reader.

It is a rare pleasure to truly be lost in a story, when in the telling, there is not a thought of the author, or the writing, or the narrator, but simply just a wonderful story as it unfolds before you. And in the listening of Exhalation, that is exactly where I found myself.

I am now a huge Ted Chiang fan. 10/10 will read again.

15 people found this helpful

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  • diego
  • 2019-05-12

thought provoking and very entertaining

Ted Chiang is a master of combining relevant technological and philosophical events and ideas with wonderfully realistic fiction

6 people found this helpful

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  • H. Lindsley
  • 2019-08-05

Not nearly as good as Stories of Our Lives

I did not like nearly as many stories in this as I did Stories of Our Lives and Others. Exhalation and Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom are definitely amazing stories, and the narrator was amazing for Exhalation and the first story about the alchemist. They change the narrator, however, and she does not differentiate her voice for male characters so I have no idea who is talking at some points.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan Jordan
  • 2019-05-08

A Long Wait for a Rare Display.

Chiang pens unique stories with perfect prose. This collection rivals his last. He and Jorge Luis Borges are unmatched. I waited a long time for these stories and I was not disappointed.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Eric
  • 2019-08-06

Mostly great stories and narration

Hoffman and Ballerini are fantastic narrators of great stories, and I was engaged from start to finish of their chapters. However, Amy Landon's stiff and awkward performance detracted from the experience of the other stories, to the point that I had to skip them entirely.

3 people found this helpful

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  • D. Simons
  • 2019-08-06

Excellent stories. Mixed reading.

The stories and author comments were wonderful. I found Amy Landon’s reading style hard to listen to, unfortunately. That might just be a personal preference.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Joe G.
  • 2019-05-10

Spectacular! (seriously)

This is a stellar collection of thoughtful, creative SF stories. I know of no other collection I'd more highly recommend.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Damon B Poole
  • 2019-05-10

Unique and Mind Blowing as Ever

I hope he does a full book or movie soon. This is a “just read it” kind of book!

2 people found this helpful