Ted Chiang is back—one of the greatest bits of speculative fiction news in 2019. Seventeen years since Chiang’s last collection Stories of Your Life and Others, the aged-wine approach the man uses writing has finally produced enough content to fill out a collection. Named Exhalation: Stories, let’s take a look at the vintages produced.
A Chiang version of a 1,001 Arabian Nights tale, “The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate” is the story of one Fuwaad ibn Abbas, and the encounter he has with a merchant in the bazaar one day. Passing through a gate that shifts time, ibn Abbas is never the same despite returning. But what does he ultimately make of it? Additional stories nested within his story, the whole is parables wrapped in a parable on the value of knowledge and the path to attaining knowledge, particularly the mindset regarding the passage of time and regret.