Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang is a collection of short thought provoking sci-fi stories. Each story explores a different theme but ultimately, it begs the readers to question their existence in this world, what is free will and does it actually even exists, rights for AI, search for an intelligence life form, parallel universes and such. Majority of them can be thought of as “weird” or “bizarre” but that is the beauty of such stories in that it’s not your usual run of the mill stories that you read every time.
My favorite short story has got to be Exhalation itself. It’s about a robot performing surgery on itself to discover how memories are stored. Let that sink in for a bit. I was literally hooked from that moment on. It’s hard to really provide a short summary of what each story is about without going into details and spoiling it because each reader should go into each of them with a blank state of mind and discover for themselves the meaning behind each one.
My advice to every reader is to take your time and read each story slowly. You may obviously not enjoy each and every one but the bizarreness of each one makes it hard to skip. I felt glued to each story and had a strong desire to see each one through to the end. Not surprisingly, one of the stories here titled ‘Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom’ made the finalist for the 2019 Nebula Awards in the novella category. I was really rooting for the titled story, Exhalation, to make the cut but regardless reading this book from such a great mind was worth every bit of admission. Science fiction fans no doubt would cherish this for years to come.