My next random card draw brought me a Ted Chiang story. I had already started reading some of the stories in this collection, but started with the stories I had not picked for the Deal Me In Challenge. When I realised that my library had a reservation on Exhalation and I was not able to renew the book, I ended up reading/listening to (I had the audiobook) the rest of the stories … plus the remaining ones for the challenge. Yeah, the challenge is great, but a bit of a hassle where library loans are concerned. I should have thought of that. Still, at least I finally got introduced to Chiang’s work:

♣︎ AceThe Merchant and The Alchemist’s GateTed ChiangExhalation
♣︎ KingExhalationTed ChiangExhalation
♣︎ QueenOmphalosTed ChiangExhalation
♣︎ JackThe Great SilenceTed ChiangExhalation

I have been intrigued by Ted Chiang’s collection of short stories since Lillelara recommended them a few years ago (?). I’ve not read much speculative fiction but Exhalation sounded like a great way to broaden my horizon, and it was. 

While I did not like all of the stories, and even DNF’d some of them because they just could not grab my interest all, I really enjoyed some of them. Luckily, three of the four stories I picked at random ended up being stories that I really enjoyed. The fourth was one I DNF’s. Sorry, not sorry.  

The Merchant and The Alchemist’s Gate – This was a great start to the collection and not at all what I expected. I went into the collection with the expectation of sci-fi / speculative fiction being quite different from a story that could have been at home in The Arabian Nights. This was a gentle but powerful story about faith and time-travel and the extent to which travelling back in time is able to change fate. It was a fabulous story.

Exhalation – I DNF’d this. I just could not get into this. There was too much technical detail and once the story turned to a mad scientist dissection his own brain, I was out. Whatever.

Omphalos – Loved it. Not only did I like that we get a different kind of scientist in this story – it features an archaeologist – but also that we see an empathetic discussion of science and faith, and the challenges that arise from making sense of either while also accepting the validity of the other. Highly recommended.

The Great Silence – Loved it. Told from the point of view of a parrot (a member of an endangered sub-species), the story discusses the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, and how man’s search for it ignores the endangerment of intelligent species on Earth. It was a poignant story and I liked learning about the scientific background to the Great Silence as a term for the lack of discernible signals from space. 

Link to the Deal Me In Challenge – Master Post