Tom MacWright

I read Exhalation by Ted Chiang on


I’ve had trouble finding books I love recently. Capital was amazing, but Still Life With Woodpecker was kind of a slog, and I started All the Birds in the Sky but gave up on it part-way through. It’s partially me - waning joy in many activities because of the daily tick-tock of tragedies and endless series of days at home. Normalcy is a blessing, despondency is the norm.

But this was good. It took the things I like about concept sci-fi - the cool ideas, the commentary, the freedom - and plucked out the things I don’t like - the long-windedness, the tedious symbolism and language construction. It delivered messages, sort of like morals, but without being moralizing. It felt good to read, and easily tamed my now-wandering attention span. I think it’s broadly recommendable, needing no particular love of any wing of sci-fi.