cover image The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate

Ted Chiang, . . Subterranean, $20 (60pp) ISBN 978-1-59606-100-2

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. A Baghdad merchant discovers an alchemical device that can send a traveler back in time 20 years. Despite the alchemist's warning that "what is made cannot be unmade," and three illustrative tales about others' attempts to alter the past, the merchant is determined to return to an earlier time to save his long-dead wife. 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. (July)