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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson. New York: Tor, 2001. ISBN: 0312873840

This is a fairly typical time machine kind of story, but with a twist. Of course, there has to be a twist, or why would anyone be interested in one more time machine story? The twist is that artifacts, massive monuments of various sorts, begin appearing around the world, each with an inscription dating 28 years into the future, and praising the glorious victory of some unknown conqueror named Kuin. Nobody's ever heard of this Kuin, and no one knows who he is, or where he's from, or anything else about him.

Meanwhile, back in the good old US of A, a first rank physicist is doing the theoretical work that could eventually lead to the ability to send objects such as this through time. She is working to figure out how the chronoliths are generated, and hoping to develop a method of preventing them. Naturally (this is how it always works in time travel stories) she presumably becomes the agent through whom the chronoliths are generated. She is eventually kidnapped, and shipped to Asia, where we assume she is forced to work for the elusive Kuin himself, enabling him to begin sending back the so-called chronoliths to frighten the world into submission.

Even though no one has ever seen Kuin, or knows who he is, movements supporting him spring up all over the world, and the successive appearances of more and more chronoliths seem well on the way to creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of his eventual world domination. The main character, through whose eyes the story is told, is a fellow who just happened to be in the area when the very first chronolith appeared, in Thailand, and who was a classmate of the physicist, and becomes linked to the chronoliths in some seemingly significant but undetermined manner.

There you probably have enough to go on. Not the most exciting plot, nor riveting story line. Just general, run of the mill, workhorse science fiction. Provides a good, but not outstanding read.


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