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The Chronoliths

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  3,335 ratings  ·  228 reviews
Scott Warden is a man haunted by the past - and soon to be haunted by the future.

In early twenty-first century Thailand, Scott is an expatriate slacker. Then, one day, he inadvertently witnesses an impossible event: the violent appearance of a 200-foot stone pillar in the forested interior. Its arrival collapses trees for a quarter mile around its base, freezing ice out of
Kindle Edition, 324 pages
Published (first published August 2001)
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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 pr
Apr 06, 2012 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kuinists, slackers on the beach in Thailand
This is a fine mix of Big Idea SF with human drama on a much smaller scale. The Big Idea is a conqueror from the future named "Kuin" who is somehow able to send massive monuments to his victories back in time, where they stand invulnerable and ominous over the lands he is destined to conquer. The first ones are in Thailand, but over the next few years they appear all over Asia. Some materialize in relatively unpopulated areas, but some appear in the middle of cities, flattening them with shockwa ...more
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 ...more
On the positive side, this book did have interesting ideas. It unfolded nicely over a span of several years, cataloging changes and effects -- showing economic downturn, how people's way of living changed. There were moments when I was engaged, and interested in what was going to happen next.

But I found these moments were few and far between. I couldn't stand the narrator -- the kind of guy who screws up his first marriage, and manages to shakily repair his relationship with his daughter, barrin
In 2021, a gigantic memorial appears out of nowhere in the middle of Thailand. The text on the memorial refers to a great battle fought there and a victorious general "Kuin" and gives a date: December 21, 2041 - 20 years in the future. How did the memorial get there? Who is this Kuin? Can he really send objects through time?

Robert Charles Wilson's The Chronoliths is a dystopian fiction with elements of time travel (heavily) thrown in. It's a fascinating premise, and the picture Wilson paints of
I almost wouldn't classify The Chronoliths as science fiction, even though it takes place in a not-so-distant future where gigantic monuments start appearing all over the world, apparently sent to the past by an enigmatic figure called Kuin.

Although these 'Chronoliths' are the driving force of the story, their existence and purpose is never fully explained. What the story is really about is what effect the Chronoliths have on the life of Scott, an (the) average guy.

Scott is worrying about find
Daniel Roy
At the time I read this book, it was, quite simply, one of the best SF books I had ever read. This book made Wilson my favorite SF author.

It starts with an intriguing SF concept: what if a giant pillar appeared in Bangkok, marking the victory of a future warlord? What would be its impact on society? How could such an event come about and why must people in the future send mementos to the past?

On this premise, The Chronoliths fully deliver in intrigue, surprise twists and clever, thoughtful SF. B
This is the third book I've read by Robert Charles Wilson (along with Spin and its sequel Axis), and he is now on his way to becoming one of my very favorite sci-fi authors.

Shortest version: RCW writes the kind of fiction I hope I can write one day. His stories all have big ideas at their heart, but he does rich and deep world-building around them. All the hard work he does imagining the diverse ways people and society would react to those big ideas succeeds at making the ideas seem much more re
Good writing. Good story idea and interesting concepts are toyed with. The only downsides are (1) the main character, Scott, is carefree and emotionless about everything which led me to not care for him, and (2) there is a lot of human minutiae which, while well written, does not add much to the story. I wish RCW had replaced this stuff with more information about the senders of the chronoliths. Still, I liked this book and I continue to think of RCW as one of the most talented SF writers.
Excellent read. This was my first book by Wilson, and it looks like he writes in the same vien as Robert Sawyer--what I call Social Sci-fi. Instead of focusing on science or technology itself, Wilson instead writes about the -impact- that tech and related events have on average people's lives. So not only does Wilson create fully-realized characters with depth (and plenty of flaws), he manages to breathe life into the world, society and situations they inhabit. I found the pacing of the novel to ...more
It helps, I think, to consider the Chronoliths of the book's title -- giant blue glass edifices projected back in time from the future -- as MacGuffins, and to ignore them. Sure, their appearance spreads over the world with the news from the future of victory followed by victory, each capped with a memorialization of the conqueror Kuin thrust into the past.

We're told early on in the book that in their version of the universe, time is immutable. We know the Kuin chronoliths are their own reason f
Laura Rainbow Dragon
As a people immersed in a unidirectional chronology, we have often dreamed of breaking that barrier and travelling at will throughout time. With those dreams have come the inevitable questions: What happens to us if we alter our own past? If you cause events to occur which prevent your own birth, do you cease to exist? If you do, how could you have travelled into your past to prevent your birth? Thus our linear conception of time is knotted up in an impossible circular logic which many sci-fi wr ...more
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 co
Al Swanson
This review focuses on the Kindle version of the book if that matters to you.

The Chronoliths is one of a group of sci-fi that I've found myself reading lately. True to my style, I won't review plot or characters or do spoilers. Not my thing. I'm not a critic, I'm just reviewing what I liked or didn't like, about a book.

Sci-fi used to be, in my teens, my main genre of interest. I read a little history, even back in those tender years, but sci-fi held my interest most. It's been thirty five or so
I have no idea who nominated this for a Hugo. Clearly, they didn't read it all, but only read the good bits. An expurgated version might be a very good novella.

The plot is great classic SF: race against time, predict the future, outsmart the people who know what you're going to do before you do because you already did it (from their perspective), etc. It should be a tense and tight story.

Somewhere along the way, Wilson ran into the (good) advice that a writer should make things hard on the prota
Jun 30, 2012 Halsted rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Halsted by: FunkyPlaid
As a newbie to the brain of Robert Charles Wilson -- of his other novels, I've only read Darwinia -- I was prepared for big questions with few answers. I was not disappointed. The story here is not one of overt heroics or melodramatic clashes but rather the quiet, bewildering moments of humanity as our collective "buckets of grief." We grieve for the world as it was, the world as it could be, and eventually the world as it is: infrastructure crumbling, paranoia swelling, violence reigning.

Not th
When I first started this book, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. I had read several negative reviews that indicated the book left too many unanswered questions. While I agree that the reader is left with much to think about, I think these reviewers missed the point of the story. This is not about where the Chronoliths come from and what their purpose is. Rather it's a story about the effect they have on our society and whether they ultimately change the future from which they were sent o ...more
Servius  Heiner
3 1/2 It was a great concept, and a good book despite all it's short comings. I didn't find the population responding in a realistic way to the events as they unfolded. Ask yourself... If you are sitting on you back porch and you see a monolith in your back yard the size of a sky scraper that wasn't there yesterday How would you respond? How would the media respond? Wilson made a point in saying that the media lost interest after a few days and went back to reporting on more pressing matters (an ...more
The worst thing about "The Chronoliths," is that it isn't three times longer. The length feels right for the story, but I just wanted to stay with this reality and these characters for a much longer time than Wilson gave me.

There is one glaring question that is never answered, but as much of me that wants to know the answer, there's just as much who prefers the mystery.

Mostly, I'm disappointed that there wasn't more to read. They say "always leave them wanting more," and Wilson has certainly don
This is well written, with interesting characters, but overall the story didn’t work very well for me. When I first read the premise in the blurb, I thought that it would take a very good writer to pull it off, but I believed that Wilson could do it.

I think he fell a bit short. The bizarre scenario about giant obelisks from the future appearing on earth, paving the way for their own creation, never quite seemed real to me. Nor did the world’s reactions to them. I do appreciate the author placing
The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson is a time travel story, told not from the perspective of the time traveller, but rather from the perspective of people who experience the manifestations of a traveller to their time. This traveller leaves behind monuments to his great military conquests, which causes turmoil in a world already devastated by economic crises, pollution, unemployment, and environmental disasters. The world these people, including our protagonist Scotty, live in is never dire ...more
A thrilling narrative set in a very lived-in world pondering on the nature of fate and causality. The time jumps throughout the book make it read more like a set of very cohesive vignettes with accumulative value rather than one linear book, but this actually serves to really drive home the impact and scale of an entire world either dreading or heralding an ostensibly unavoidable and imminent subjugation.

I will say that the book suffers in its treatment of its female characters, and I wouldn't b
I read "Spin" before I got around to this one. It is definitely by the same author: A great "big idea" premise set within the occurrence of a random fantastic phenomenon, and 'real' people (and family) must deal with it. The "Spin" story was much more exciting and more developed but the approach was similar. What stood out with "The Chonoliths" was the writing itself. It bordered on poetry in places.

Robert Charles Wilson may have found his voice with this one I think.

A good read.
Más bien sería un 3.5, pero voy a ser generoso por lo bueno que es el autor desarrollando la historia.
Es curioso... lo claro que queda el estilo del autor en sus obras. Bueno, digo esto basándome en las dos que he leído hasta la fecha: ésta y «Spin».
Es indiscutible que la narración es muy buena... pero:
(view spoiler)
Willy Eckerslike
Having thoroughly enjoyed ‘Spin’, I was keen to read more of Wilson’s work. However, perhaps my expectations were too high. Like ‘Spin’, the narrative is primarily character based with the science fiction providing the plot lines; this is a good thing and made for a readable tale. The apocalyptic, gloomy atmosphere is superbly handled, but the tau-thingy science lost me, I couldn’t really see the purpose of the Chronoliths in the first place (why would a future warlord bother to send monuments b ...more
Alia R. Herrman
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 mono ...more
Maybe I missed it. I just The premise is that multiple Chronoliths (think: Washington Monument, but larger and with a mysterious statue on top) just appear out of nowhere over a 20-year span. Scott Warden is in the middle of trying to figure out what they were and who/what sent them. But, we never find out who/what sent them. We never find out why they were sent. We never find out what they mean, if in fact the Chronoliths were for military victory. WHO IS KU
Ralph McEwen
I enjoyed most of this book. I guess a good novel should leave you wanting more. It must have been difficult to edit this novel because it wants to be a tome about three time it’s size. The plot and characters are complete but the background story has so much more to tell. I still think you should read it though.
I read this book in less than 24 hours. I normally only manage to read books that quickly when I am on holiday, so you can see how compelling a read this one was.

How great too that it's only 301 pages long. So many books these days seem unnecessarily wrong but this is just the perfect length.
"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?" An ...more
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Time Travel: THE CHRONOLITHS: General Discussion (*spoilers*) 38 43 Dec 09, 2011 01:20PM  
  • Terraforming Earth
  • Bones of the Earth
  • Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
  • Song of Time
  • The Time Ships
  • Frameshift
  • Beyond Apollo
  • In War Times
  • The Years Of The City
  • Genesis
  • Eifelheim
  • Ship of Fools
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • Counting Heads (Counting Heads, #1)
  • Fairyland
  • Kiln People
  • Omega (The Academy, #4)
  • River of Gods (India 2047, #1)
I've been writing science fiction professionally since my first novel A Hidden Place was published in 1986. My books include Darwinia, Blind Lake, and the Hugo Award-winning Spin. My newest novel is The Affinities (April 2015).
More about Robert Charles Wilson...

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“Children wear their natures like brightly-colored clothes; that's why they lie so transparently. Adulthood is the art of deceit.” 10 likes
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