Ted Chiang: Exhalation

Ted Chiang’s stories are thoughtful and imaginative. In “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” the characters go between the past and the future—an intriguing time-travel experience. As a parent, I find the history of child-rearing through “Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny” hits close to home. In the modern day, most of our kids are being raised by Steve Jobs’s digital device. “The Lifecycle of Software Objects,” the longest and most fascinating story in this collection, examines the affection between humans and digients—robotic kids. I wish it was a full, fleshed-out novel. As much as I appreciate Chiang’s prose and inventiveness, I don’t have much imagination for science fiction to soak up everything he has written. Some stories just didn’t sink in. I need to revisit this book in the future at a much slower pace and in full focus.