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Exhalation: Stories (2019)

de Ted Chiang

Outros autores: Veja a seção outros autores.

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1,465749,220 (4.16)46
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 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.… (mais)
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» Veja também 46 menções

Inglês (72)  Espanhol (2)  Húngaro (1)  Todos os idiomas (75)
Mostrando 1-5 de 75 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Exhalation: Stories is the award winning collection of short stories by Ted Chiang. The stories in this collection are one of my favorite types of science fiction stories - the what if? big picture stories. They are the types of stories that are not really about the characters or plot, but rather about a concept that the author has and then explores the implications of. What if there were time travel portals, what if we could talk to our counterparts in alternate universes, what if users could raise virtual pets and teach the a.i. to evolve and "grow up," etc. I found the stories in this collection caught my interests and made me think about the issues with futuristic technologies. I recommend this collection to anyone who likes similar style of science fiction stories. If you are looking for stories with deep characterization, or exciting plots, these might not be for you - but if you like wondering what if...these stories really deliver. ( )
  Cora-R | May 11, 2021 |
Phenomenal range in sci-fi tropes and philosophical insight. The quality of prose and emotional depth of characters are exceptional for the genre, though the bar is admittedly low lol. While the underlying themes are pretty typical fare (e.g., technology’s impact on human cognition, time travel, alternate realities, the personhood of AI), Chiang weaves in his unique threads to generate a satisfying and thought-provoking collection of worlds that examine what makes us human.

Most enjoyed:
- "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate"
- "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom"

Least enjoyed:
- "The Lifecycle of Software Objects"
- "Dacey's Patent Automatic Nanny" ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
This is an excellent, outstanding and highly original collection of short stories.

Ted Chiang observes our society as it is today and combines those observations with clever tie-ins of speculative and science fiction. And he is immensely talented at that. I also enjoyed his author's notes to each of the stories.

Every story in this book will give you a lot of food for thought. If you like this kind of story, I highly recommend you read Exhalation.

PS: The Great Silence: How to break my heart in 10 minutes or less.

Notes on the audiobook: I listened to this on audible audio and it was a good production. Chiang reads the author's notes himself. ( )
  ImaginarySpace | May 3, 2021 |
Mind-ticklingly pleasurable speculative fiction from a master of the craft. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 30, 2021 |
Ted Chiang is a SFF writer who’s been around for a while but has yet to produce a novel. This collection came out in the early days of 2020 and features his work up to 2019.

There are some wonderful short stories in here. Chiang is one of those old fashioned SFF writers, where execution carries the story through. He’s not a wonderful prose stylist; his style is invisible for the most part, which, for certain kinds of stories, it should be. He’s a technical writer by trade, and there’s no room for individual style in that, only clarity of communication. This is something he does very well. I enjoyed all of the stories in this collection, some more than others, and all made an impression on me. I admire his ability to take any conceit, any subject, and really work it and not shy off from its more difficult aspects.

The title story “Exhalation” is the highlight. A race of unnamed, robotlike beings seeks, in a limited world, why their mental and physical processes are running down. A maverick scientist among them does so by disconnecting all the high-pressure lines (for these creatures run on some kind of compressed gas) instead his own skull to investigate by using a system of microscopes and mirrors for disassembly. It’s investigational, creepy, hopeful, and human, all at once. It well deserved its accolades.

The other major story, almost a novelette, is “The Life Cycle of Software Objects” which satirizes, in a loving way, the online gaming industry and its many frustrating, mandated upgrades. Randomly generated AI creatures are adopted by humans and achieve sentience of a sort (the story doesn’t go into if this sentience is “real” or not, that is, actual consciousness) but to develop further from their randomized AI actions, they need nurturing from their human adopters. Tragedy looms when their platform is no longer viable and they must be transferred to another, and the crowdsourcing isn’t there, but all is righted in the end. The story is all the more affecting for the deadpan technical tone of it. At the time I read it, it wasn’t my favorite, but now months later I think of it a lot, and fondly.

Other stories highlight the ways exotic technology can be used to heal humans’ psyches, even if that is not its intended use. In the Arabian Nights pastiche “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” a “slow time machine” allows users to travel to the past, finding that it accommodates the present and offers comfort through “The Will of Allah.”

Another favorite of mine, “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom” is about how an amazing piece of technology known colloquially as a “prism” has affected human society in the small scale. A prism is a laptop-like device that opens a portal through to an alternate universe where face-to-face communication is possible. Operating through the magic of quantum physics, it has a limited number of charges. The act of its first use creates a twin universe from that point in time forward which gradually diverges from the main one, simply through random actions of one thing on another. (Of course, the users in the alternate universe think they are the original universe.) The prisms have become consumer goods the same way cell phones have. Some buyers communicate with their alternate selves to figure out personal problems, even becoming envious of their alternate selves. There’s even a black-market trade in prisms that have especially novel futures. All this way written not to showcase and grandstand the technology, as a flashier writer might do, but to gradually reveal the human, healing side.

All in all, this collection is very recommended by me. ( )
  Cobalt-Jade | Mar 8, 2021 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 75 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Exhalation’s nine stories are … fine. A couple are excellent, most are good, a couple don’t really work. It feels like damning the book with faint praise to say so, but isn’t that exactly how short-story collections generally work?
adicionado por ScattershotSteph | editarThe Guardian, Adam Roberts (Jul 12, 2019)
 
I can’t think of another modern genre writer like him, myself: his tales make me think of the same sort of impact a Bradbury or a Heinlein story had in the Golden Age, where readers would read something just because it is written by the author.
adicionado por ScattershotSteph | editarSFFWorld.com, Mark Yon (Jul 6, 2019)
 
In the hands of a truly fatalistic writer, the premises and conceits in Exhalation would frogmarch us down the tired path to dystopia. But Chiang takes the constraints on our freedom as a starting point from which we have to decide what it means to act as if our decisions still matter.
adicionado por ScattershotSteph | editarBookforum, Mark Sussman (Jun 24, 2019)
 
Chiang is a writer of precision and grace. His stories extrapolate from first premises with the logic and rigor of a well-designed experiment but at the same time are deeply affecting, responsive to the complexities and variability of human life.
 
[Chiang's] voice and style are so beautifully trim it makes you think that, like one of his characters, he has a magical looking-box hidden in his basement that shows him nothing except the final texts of stories he has already written — just so he'll know exactly how to write them well in the first place.
adicionado por ScattershotSteph | editarNPR Books, Jason Sheehan (May 10, 2019)
 

» Adicionar outros autores (3 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Ted Chiangautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Ballerini, EdoardoNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Blair, KellyDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Hoffman, DominicNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kim, NaDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Landon, AmyNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Lew, BettyDesignerautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate
O might caliph and commander of the faithful, I am humbled to be in the splendor of your presence; a man can hope for no greater blessing as long as he lives.
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Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough.
--"The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate"
My message to you is this: Pretend that you have free will. It's essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know they don't. The reality isn't important; what's important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.
--"What's Expected of Us"
But I and my fellow parrots are right here. Why aren't they interested in listening to our voices?
  We're a nonhuman species capable of communicating with them. Aren't we exactly what humans are looking for?
--"The Great Silence"
Experience is algorithmically incompressible.
--"Exhalation"
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This is the collection that includes the title story. Please do not combine with the individual story.
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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 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.

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