The Chronoliths
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The Chronoliths

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  2,545 ratings  ·  191 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...more
Mass Market Paperback, 315 pages
Published June 17th 2002 by Tor Science Fiction (first published August 2001)
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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
David
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
Josh
Mar 26, 2012 Josh rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: sci-fi
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...more
Eric
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...more
Adrienne
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...more
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...more
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...more
Nathaniel
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...more
Tom
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
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
Chris
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...more
Alice
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...more
Seth
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...more
Halsted
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...more
John
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
Eric
Mar 28, 2009 Eric added it
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...more
Brad
Every so often you come across that rare book that just hooks you into the story right from the beginning and sustains your interest until the very end. This book is one such book.

It's not an action novel, not space opera, there are no aliens, space battles etc. This is more of a literary sci-fi novel. The story unfolds at a slow pace as the character lives his life, dealing with the artifacts of the future as they affect his life.

There are a lot of intriguing ideas in here about time, technolog...more
Jamie
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...more
Josh
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...more
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
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.
Harvey
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.
Missjulied
Just re-read this for the 4th time. I love the concept, and enjoy the puzzling it has on my mind while reading it. I wish the ending could have been a little less slapdash though.
Amy
I may be over my Robert Charles Wilson kick after this book. I found it boring, and it ultimately went nowhere. *sigh*
Brett
I started reading this in 1997 and quietly slipped into a coma from which I've only recently awakened.
Ian Walker
It's a rather depressing story to end the year with. Anarchy slowly breaks out when these indestructible monuments start appearing out of nowhere. Monuments inscribed with a war victory dated in the future. The story follows a rather hapless software hacker with a thermostat set for struggle. He's poor, makes bad friends and worse family choices. He kind of falls pell mell into situations that he barely understands. Yet, as a narrator he seems to possess a good amount of insight into whats going...more
Julie
By chance, I read this right before reading H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, and although the two books are separated by more than a century, they clearly share the same basic genetic code. Immense objects appear from out of nowhere, gouging tracks of devastation into the landscape. The objects are beyond human technology and quickly begin to wreak havoc on the Current World Order. The protagonist, our Everyman (who is a white male in both books), accidentally finds himself caught up in the Th...more
Richelle
Not too far in the future here on Earth, giant blue glass edifices begin appearing out of nowhere with engravings on them memorializing a yet-to-occur future war victory in that region by the conquerer Kuin. Depending on where they arrive, these Kuin stones can be very destructive to a city and its inhabitants. Told from the point a view of Scott, an American who is living in Thailand at the time of the first stone's arrival, the story mainly follows his interactions and relationships during the...more
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Time Travel: THE CHRONOLITHS: General Discussion (*spoilers*) 38 34 Dec 09, 2011 01:20PM  
  • Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
  • Terraforming Earth
  • Bones of the Earth
  • Frameshift
  • The Time Ships
  • Up the Line
  • Ship of Fools
  • Eifelheim
  • In War Times
  • Genesis
  • The Year of the Quiet Sun
  • Beyond Apollo
  • Titan
  • On Wings of Song
  • The Best Time Travel Stories of the 20th Century
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Born in California, Robert Charles Wilson lives in Toronto. Darwinia won Canada's Aurora Award, The Chronoliths won the John W. Campbell Award, and Blind Lake is a New York Times Notable Book. All three were Hugo finalists. Spin won the Hugo for best novel.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/robert...
More about Robert Charles Wilson...
Spin (Spin, #1) Axis Vortex Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America Darwinia

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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.” 9 likes
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