The Talents of Ted Chiang

I’ve just finished reading Ted Chiang’s recently-published second short-story collection, Exhalation: Stories. I’m happy to report that it’s just as good as his first one (from nearly two decades ago – Chiang is definitely a guy who focuses on quality over quantity), Stories of Your Life and Others. (See Joyce Carol Oates’ review of the second collection here.)

Chiang is the kind of science-fiction writer who appeals especially to philosophers (while remaining scientifically literate and responsible). He tackles such issues as free will and fatalism; the impact of information technology on our self-conception; the exploration of world histories, forms of consciousness, and even types of universe very different from our own; and the value of empathy. Even his story titles often evince a philosophical sensibility: “Hell Is the Absence of God”; “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”; “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling.” Highly recommended!

His work was also the basis for the critically acclaimed first-alien-contact movie Arrival (the one with Amy Adams, not the one with Charlie Sheen).

I’m currently part of a science-fiction-and-philosophy reading group that recently discussed the first collection and is preparing to discuss the second.

And I can’t quite believe that I’m the first person on the internet to think of this title, but apparently I am. Sorry not sorry.

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