The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate
|"The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate"|
|Genre(s)||Fantasy short story|
|Published in||The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate|
|Publication date||July 2007|
The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate is a fantasy novelette by Ted Chiang originally published in 2007 by Subterranean Press and reprinted in the September 2007 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It won the 2008 Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the 2008 Nebula Award for Best Novelette.
The story follows Fuwaad ibn Abbas, a fabric merchant in the ancient city of Baghdad. It begins when he is searching for a gift to give a business associate and happens to discover a new shop in the marketplace. The shop owner, who makes and sells a variety of very interesting items, invites Fuwaad into the back workshop to see a mysterious black stone arch which serves as a gateway into the future, which the shop owner has made by the use of alchemy. Fuwaad is intrigued, and the shop owner tells him three stories of others who have traveled through the gate to meet and have conversation with their future selves. When Fuwaad learns that the shop keeper has another gate in Cairo that will allow people to travel even into the past, he makes the journey there to try to rectify a mistake he made twenty years earlier.