Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ted Chiang's "Exhalation" (short story, entropy, free)

Quote from short story titled Exhalation by Ted ChiangI've a feeling this is going to get listed among the all-time best of science fiction.

Story summary.

In an unusual universe, a curious "man", who's also the narrator & an "anatomist", builds a contraption to dissect his own brain! One thing leads to another, & he learns not only how his brain works but that his universe is dying. And that every universe must eventually die.

Explaining the title will spoil some fun; so I refrain from doing it.


  1. Couple of paragraphs in later parts of the story reminded me of Isaac Asimov's "The Gods Themselves".
  2. Hal Clement's "Answer": A man's efforts to understand how his brain works result in more success than is healthy!
    This story has been on my "to post" list for a while; might do one of these days.

Collected in.

  1. David Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer (Ed)'s "Year's Best SF 14".
  2. Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s "Best SF and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 3".

Fact sheet.

First published: Jonathan Strahan (Ed)'s "Eclipse Two: New Science Fiction and Fantasy".
Rating: A.
Download full text in multiple formats from Night Shade Books; or MP3 audio from StarShipSofa.
Added to my "best of the year 2008" picks.
Winner of Hugo Award 2009 in short story category.
Nominated for BSFA Award 2009 in short fiction category.
Related: Stories of Ted Chiang; Apocalypse fiction.