“Even as humans search for extraterrestrial intelligence,” writes Joyce Carol Oates of Ted Chiang’s new stories, “they can’t hear the messages being sent by an imperiled species on their own planet.”

Cover image of Exhalation

Exhalation consists of nine new stories—original, provocative, poignant—from the author of “Story of Your Life,” which was made into the Oscar-winning film, Arrival.

One story, set in ancient Baghdad, features a gate that enables time travel. Another examines friendship, even love, among robots. In the title story, inhabitants of an invented world must find a way to refill their artificial lungs in order to survive.

Because sometimes we need to travel to imaginary worlds in order to see our own more clearly.

Because Ted Chiang reminds us over and over that science is not incompatible with beauty.

And because his story titles are too delicious to resist: “Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny” and “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom,” to name just two.

An acclaimed writer of science fiction and fantasy, Ted Chiang has won four Hugo, four Nebula, and four Locus awards. A story from his debut collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, was made into a film, Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve and starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.

His latest collection of stories, Exhalation, was named one of the best books of 2020 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, NPR, and the Guardian. Mr. Chiang lives in Seattle. 

Order the book now from the Colgate Bookstore.

Meet Ted Chiang at Colgate on Sept. 30

We're sorry that you missed Ted Chiang's visit. If you'd like to see an archived copy of his presentation, please join the Living Writers mailing list.

Listen to a 3-question podcast

“Writing is hard enough; writing about things that depress me would just make it harder.” That’s Ted Chiang speaking about Exhalation. Listen to this short Living Writers podcast to hear more.

Go beyond the book

  • Colgate's Friday Night Film series will screen Arrival (directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on a story from Ted Chiang's debut collection, Stories of Your Life and Others) at 5pm on Friday, Sept. 24. 
  • Joyce Carol Oates writes that Ted Chiang’s universe is “a place in which the natural inquisitiveness of our species leads us to ever more astonishing truths, and an alliance with technological advances is likely to enhance us, not diminish us.” Read the rest of Oates’ review for the New Yorker.
  • “The unifying themes of the collection are the extraordinary ingenuity that can be brought to scientific and technological progress, the tremendous freedom and empowerment that progress can bring, and the varied and unexpected ways in which that progress can transform and even trap us.” Patrick Lohier praises Chiang’s inventiveness and ability to capture human relationships amidst increasing technology in this article for the Harvard Review
  • In his review for NPR, Jason Sheehan reflects on what the stories in Exhalation say about the consequences of our choices, whether they are technologically driven or not: “Tomorrow comes whether we want it to or not. The world changes no matter how tightly we cling to yesterday. And Chiang writes often (almost always) with an understanding that nothing we do, nothing he does, nothing any of his characters do, can change that.”

Tell us what you think 

We're sorry you missed our Sept. 27 faculty roundtable and discussion of Exhalation. You can listen to a recording of the first 15 minutes below. Guests included professors Mieka ErleyCJ Hauser, and Yang Song.

Follow the discussion on Twitter @ColgateLW using the hashtags #ColgateLivingWriters and #Exhalation

Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.

Join the conversation on Twitter @ColgateLW

Living Writers is put on by the Department of English at Colgate University with generous support from the Olive B. O'Connor Fund as well as the President and Provost/Dean of the Faculty. Support from the Asian Studies and Film and Media Studies Programs helped make this event possible.