The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate (eBook)
“Four things do not come back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity.”
In medieval Baghdad, a penniless man is brought before the most powerful man in the world, the caliph himself, to tell his story. It begins with a walk in the bazaar, but soon grows into a tale unlike any other told in the caliph's empire. It's a story that includes not just buried treasure and a band of thieves, but also men haunted by their past and others trapped by their future; it includes not just a beloved wife and a veiled seductress, but also long journeys taken by caravan and even longer ones taken with a single step. Above all, it's a story about recognizing the will of Allah and accepting it, no matter what form it takes.
From Publishers Weekly:
“This curious time-travel novella from Hugo-winner Chiang (Stories of Your Life and Others) is a gracefully told lesson about accepting fate—or, as better suits this medieval Arabian setting, the will of Allah… Half lyrical Arabian Nights legend and half old school cautionary SF tale, this skillfully written story and its theme of insurmountable fate may comfort as many readers as it makes uncomfortable.”
“In the manner of the Arabian Nights, Chiang wraps stories within a story… Eventually, interconnections between the four stories surface, and they boggle the mind, more so, perhaps, than any of the tales of similar effect in Chiang's dazzling Stories of Your Life and Others (2002). Could fantasy be more intelligently exquisite and, ultimately and surprisingly, morally sound than this'”
From Scalpel Magazine:
“It would be easy for Ted Chiang to rest on his laurels, especially after winning so many awards for his previous works, but his mastery of the written language continues to evolve. This novella charmed me down to my strings, a science fictional tale clothed in the silks and linen and scarves of the fantastic, and I do hope another five years will not have passed before seeing another major work from this phenomenal writer.”