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The Chronoliths (2002)

The Chronoliths (2002)

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3.65 of 5 Votes: 1
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0812545249 (ISBN13: 9780812545241)
tor science fiction

About book The Chronoliths (2002)

The concept of time travel is often fantasized within fiction as something fanciful and fun. Though journeys through time are rarely without consequence, they still fall into the category of adventure rather than catastrophe. Being a fan of TV shows like Doctor Who, I enjoy these exciting loops of storytelling as much as the next person, but I personally believe that the hard truth of time travel would be a lot closer to the reality presented within The Chronoliths. The eerie arrival of the monoliths in the story and the subsequent changes such artifacts impose on the psyche of the world are chilling and all too believable, the fiction of this science merely on the fringe of our own discovery rather than something unimaginably fantastic. In this case the time travel is not undertaken by individuals as much as people are influencing time through technology, but the intervention through symbolic objects rather than people gives the threat an alien quality, a surreal foreboding not seen directly but peripherally through the corner of the eye. The ominous tone builds slowly throughout the book, softened by the underlying human story of broken families and the attempt to endure in spite of hardship. The story was compelling throughout, but I must admit that the characters themselves never grabbed at me as much as the broader sweep of the story. I feared for them when they were in dangerous situations and was relieved when they came out the other side, but I always felt a step removed, caught up into the larger sense of chaos unfolding in the story's larger world, perhaps because the story is framed as a memoir with a little emotional distance.As I was reading, I found myself thinking of other stories, like the TV series Fringe, warning of the dangers that could be posed by a future given the ability to influence time. The eerie quality of the threat, occasionally incomprehensible snatches of hardcore science and masterfully crafted plot also recall the movie Primer, and though that story dealt far more with the personal consequences of time travel, it echoed similar fears, such as the possibility of being responsible for your own destruction by manipulating forces you barely understand. Overall, The Chronoliths is an imaginative but plausible story that's chilling in the ease with which you can imagine such a reality coming to pass under such circumstances. An excellent read, and one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in a thoughtful, well-constructed bit of science fiction, though if you're the type who needs nonstop action to stay interested you might find it a little tedious at points. But the story's slow, methodical build pays off in the end, and is worth the time you will invest in it.

In our near future, the chronoliths start arriving out of thin air across the world – enormous, destructive monuments to conquests that, according to the engravings, won’t occur for twenty more years. Scott writes his memoir, telling of his presence at the arrival of the first chronolith in Thailand and the set of extraordinary experiences that keep his life entwined with the mystery and the slim hope of averting global disaster. The chronoliths arrive from the future, and they bring with them a bending of reality, a shift of the rules of time and coincidence and destiny that has very intimate consequences for Scott and his family.Dude! It’s a proto Spin! Seriously – we’ve got the fictionalized memoir style, the near future setting and focus on the global sociological response to disaster, the blend of abstract theory and intense character work. Not as good as Spin, as you might expect if we assume this really was Wilson’s warm-up book – the memoir style is unfocussed and a bit wobbly here, the drama yanked a bit too taut in places, some shiny theory of the temporal physics of coincidence used to justify some otherwise indefensible plot devices without actually illuminating those devices as it could have. I also saw the endgame coming quite far off.But if you ask me, ‘not as good as Spin’ is still saying a whole lot. Wilson has a real flare for both sink-your-teeth-in science and for compelling, personal character work. Unusual for the genre, sad to say. He also deals with big sociological change in impressive, detailed ways. And I just like his books. They make sense to me; they work on a rhythm I’m naturally tuned to, intellectually and emotionally. The puzzles appeal to the philosopher in me, and the writing feels comfortable and right (not coincidentally, I think, Wilson and I have a congruent prose style).Time has an arrow, Sue Chopra once told me. It flies in one direction. Combine fire and firewood, you get ashes. Combine fire and ashes, you don't get firewood.Morality has an arrow, too. For example: Run a film of the Second World War backward and you invert its moral logic. The Allies sign a peace agreement with Japan and promptly bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nazis extract bullets from the heads of emaciated Jews and nurse them back to health. The problem with tau turbulence, Sue said, is that it mingles these paradoxes into daily experience. In the vicinity of a Chronolith, a saint might be a very dangerous man. A sinner is probably more useful.

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In The Chronoliths, the world is rocked by the sudden arrival of massive obelisks, or "chronoliths," which appear to be a future conqueror's monuments to battles that have not yet occurred. As the chronoliths continue to appear, the world descends into economic and social chaos. Robert Charles Wilson is a brilliant writer and this is standard fare for him: a character story involving normal people caught up in major, world-altering preternatural events.While The Chronoliths has an interesting premise, it is flat and intensely boring at times. Much of the action occurs elsewhere when the viewpoint character is not present. Wilson fails to use the chronoliths' potential. They are fascinating objects but they are reduced to a setting, a mere backdrop by which our hero, Scott Warden, looks retrospectively on his life. To make matters worse, Warden is unlikable and apathetic. We often get the sense that he isn't involved in the story but rather that he just happens to be standing there when the story occurs.Wilson almost always surprises the reader with something completely unexpected at the end. Unfortunately, there are few surprises here. The chronoliths turn out to be disappointing and less interesting than expected. Overall, The Chronoliths was anti-climactic. Whereas most Wilson novels leave the reader feeling awed, I finished it thinking, "Is that it?" If you're a Wilson fan you may enjoy this one, but it is hardly Wilson's greatest achievement. If you haven't read Spin or Blind Lake, I suggest going there first.

"The Chronoliths" is a science fiction story set in the near future that describes the events that occurred in one man's life after he witnessed the arrival of a large monument from the future in Thailand. As time goes on, more monuments appear around the world, causing political upheaval and a growing effort to uncover the root of this mystery. The story explores the nature of reality, asking fascinating questions like, "Are some events inevitable?" and "What can we do to change the future?" And, while it delves into some pretty intense topics, it doesn't drown the reader in physics (which I appreciated as a reader who knows very little about physics!). What I found most exciting about this book was the way in which the story is presented; all from the point of view of an ordinary man who is quite flawed. Yet he also seems honourable, a view that forms over the course of the book as we follow his life and his relationships, with his family and with his former professor, Sue, who draws him into her research about the monuments, called 'chronoliths'. Another thing I found very interesting about this book was its narration style. Like one of my favourite books, World War Z, it is written as an account of an era, by a narrator looking back on the situation that once was. This style allows for the reader to participate in the narrator's personal reflection of the events he is describing, which a really intriguing way of getting to know him. This book might seem anti-climactic to some, since it is not packed with action, but I prefer to think of it as a character study, so it did not disappoint. (4 stars out of 5)

It's the 21st century, and nothing has really changed. Things are going pretty much as we expect - the rich are getting richer, the world is ticking along, and people are busy not thinking about the future. Oh, plenty of people say they think about the future, but when they say that, they usually just mean their future. Not THE future.Scott Warden doesn't even think about his future. He's an expat beach bum living in Thailand, barely supporting his wife and his young daughter, and pretty well content to stay that way. Until, of course, he is invited to see the first of the Chronoliths.The Chronolith is a towering monument - ice-cold and ice-blue, it stabs hundreds of feet in the air and is made of no material that science can identify. At the base, there is an inscription, proclaiming a great military victory - 20 years in the future.An unknown warlord named Kuin will, in about two decades, run roughshod over the world, erecting these time-violating towers in his wake. And, through coincidence or causality, Scott gets pulled into the attempt to stop Kuin before he can even get started.It's a fun book, and I really like Wilson's style. He kind of sucks you in, and that's something I haven't gotten in a long while. what's more, he is an intelligent writer, in more ways than one. He not only manages to explain the theoretical underpinnings behind his plot - some pretty abstract theoretical physics - but he's also careful to show the psychological and social implications of the Chronoliths. How would people react to the sure and certain knowledge that, in twenty years' time, a supremely powerful warlord would start rampaging across the world? How would different social classes and age groups react, and what would be the political and economic results?Without getting bogged down in technicalities, Wilson does an excellent job at painting a future in decline. Not a dystopia by any means, just one of those periods where things aren't so good - where they could get much worse just as easily as they could get much better.I enjoyed him so much, I think I'll go right on to the other book of his that I have....

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