Ted Chiang on the most interesting aspect of time travel

Past and future are the same, and we cannot change either, only know them more fully. My journey to the past had changed nothing, but what I had learned had changed everything, and I understood that it could not have been otherwise. If our lives are tales that Allah tells, then we are the audience as well as the players, and it is by living these tales that we receive their lessons.

This passage from “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” in Ted Chiang’s Exhalations short story collection hints at one of the reasons I love reading science fiction like Chiang’s: Not to catch a glimpse into the future, but to inspect the present more closely, and from fresh angles—learning lessons along the way.

Complement with Danny Crichton’s new TechCrunch book club for which Exhalations is the inaugural pick, Alexander Weinstein on the art of writing short fiction, and why business leaders should read more science fiction.

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