Thought provoking, some interesting ideas, but a tough act to follow.
I had read "Story of your life and others" and I fell in love with the book. Chiang is an amazing creative writer with ideas that are so beautiful I found myself constantly telling others about the stories.
Exhalation is very much the same ilk: beautiful ideas and mostly well executed. My star rating is based in context of "Stories of your life and others" which I know is unfair in some ways, but it's what it is. It's more 3.5 stars rather than 3.
I found I was really craving some more lengthy stories from Exhalation and (I think) there were about four of the total short stories that gave me that. Although each story was inventive, amazing and beautiful, I kept feeling like the endings were falling short, or ending too soon…or maybe just giving up.
"The Lifecycle of Software Objects" I thought approached some really interesting ideas and asked me, as a reader, to expand my mind and preconceptions of what could be, but the way it ended, I felt as if I'd missed something. It felt true to life in that it just ends without any big bang, but as a story, I wanted to come away satisfied, or shocked, or with some emotion, but it just … kinda ended.
I think "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" was my favourite story and I loved the setting and the idea that the past can be revisited in the way described in the story.
Exhalation is definitely a good book, but for me, it just didn't shine as brightly as Chiang's first collection (which was 5 stars). That said, I'll still rush out to buy anything else Chiang publishes - his stories always make me feel like my mind is being expanded!
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