By Ted Chiang,

Book cover of Exhalation

Book description

'Lean, relentless, and incandescent.' Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys

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…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Exhalation as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I'm recommending this entire lovely collection of stories for the one called "The Great Silence". It is told from the perspective of an endangered parrot discussing the Arecibo telescope.

It was written as an installation to be played on the telescope. It's a short story but also an astonishingly punchy compressed non-fiction primer on animal communication, but most importantly it will make you cry and you will read it again and again and again.

Any minute spent reading Ted Chiang is a minute well spent. Exhalation is a story of mechanical beings that are powered by compressed gas that is mined from underground. A seemingly innocuous observation (clocks are speeding up) leads a mechanical scientist to begin to explore the true nature of consciousness. The story itself is beautiful and fascinating, but as a neuroscientist, I was deeply impressed by Chiang’s description of the mechanism of cognition. If scientists ever figure out how the brain produces cognition, they might find that Chiang’s description is the closest to the truth.

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