Ted Chiang‘s The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate is a novelette originally published by Subterranean Press.
I spent a few hours reading it during the weekend, and as it usually happens with stories by Ted Chiang, I was overawed by the author’s skill and finesse.
I will not spoil the plot here (as I know there’s a reader of this blog that has a copy of the book on her ereader).
Suffice to say that this is a time travel story, set in the world and told with the style of The Arabian Nights.
And readers of this blog probably remember I am a fan of the Arabian Nights.
This being a time travel story, it probably qualifies as fantasy1 – even if, despite the setting and the language, Chiang slips in his narrative a rather plausible science fictional rationale.
But matters of classification really are beside the point2, as we are dealing with a wonderful and poignant story, masterfully designed and perfectly told.
The sort of story that deserves a second reading to try and learn how the author did it.