Omphalos (story)

"Omphalos" is a science fantasy short story by Ted Chiang, named after the omphalos hypothesis. It was first published in Chiang's 2019 collection Exhalation: Stories.

by Ted Chiang
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inExhalation: Stories
Publication typeBook
Publication dateMay 2019


In a world where Young Earth creationism is true, Dorothea Morrell is an archaeologist who discovers an unsettling fact about the universe.


"Omphalos" won the Locus Award for Best Novelette for 2020. It was also a finalist for the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novelette[1] and the Theodore Sturgeon Award.[2]

The Nation considered the basic premise — a creationist archaeologist in conflict with a creationist astronomer — to be "hilarious", but noted that the story is not a humorous work, and emphasized that Dorothea is an empiricist who uses the scientific method.[3] In the Washington Post, Paul Di Filippo called the story "masterful and striking", and found it evocative of Philip Jose Farmer's "Sail On! Sail On!".[4]


  1. ^ 2020 Hugo Awards, at; retrieved August 1, 2020
  2. ^ Sturgeon Finalists; retrieved August 22, 2021
  3. ^ The Rest Is Up to Us, by Stephen Kearse; in The Nation; published November 19, 2019; retrieved August 1, 2020
  4. ^ Ted Chiang’s ‘Exhalation,’ like his story that inspired ‘Arrival,’ fuses intellect and emotion, by Paul Di Filippo, in the Washington Post; published May 3, 2019; retrieved August 1, 2020