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The Chronoliths

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,692 Ratings  ·  248 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
Mass Market Paperback, 315 pages
Published June 17th 2002 by Tor Science Fiction (first published August 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 26, 2012 Josh rated it it was ok
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
Apr 06, 2012 David rated it really liked it  ·  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
Dec 28, 2008 Lightreads rated it liked 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 ...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
Feb 20, 2010 Adrienne rated it it was ok
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
Daniel Roy
May 03, 2011 Daniel Roy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
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
May 22, 2014 Nathaniel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Aug 23, 2013 Eric rated it liked it
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
Mar 29, 2014 Paul rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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.
Jun 20, 2016 David rated it it was ok
Robert Charles Wilson is a competent writer who produces few of those wincing moments—too common in science fiction—when the prose slips into clumsy phrasing or slides into cliché and worn-out convention. As with all of Wilson's books, the story is clever too, building on a worthwhile premise with well-managed plotting. My trouble is always with Wilson's narrators. I guess their voices have SOME distinction. They don't sound like mouthpieces exactly, but, ultimately, as they become familiar, the ...more
Aug 07, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 05, 2011 Brenda rated it liked it
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
Feb 09, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Jul 01, 2011 Al Swanson rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
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
Mar 31, 2008 Seth rated it did not like it
Shelves: crap, science-fiction
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 really liked it  ·  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
Jean Hontz
When monuments somehow displaced from the near future begin appearing around the world, a small cadre of scientists begin trying to figure out how and why it is happening. The story follows this group of people as they try to make sense of the Kuin monuments while the world falls apart around them.

Hard science, intriguing characters and unfortunately believeable human reactions to the situation, make the book fascinating, in an aghast kind of way.
Nov 29, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 24, 2010 Servius Heiner rated it liked it
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
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
Jamie Collins
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
Alicia Utter
Rate: 7

Scott and his family are in Thailand, about ten years in the future. He happens to be present when a giant Chronolith shoots up out of the ocean. After that, they start to show everywhere. Because he was picked up by police, during the first one, he is named, and his world slips a bit. He goes back to the US to get his feet back, raising a daughter with his ex wife. But he is always fascinated by the Chronoliths that are supposedly from teh future. He ends up working on a government proje
Paige Ellen Stone
This is a great read by a great writer. I haven't enjoyed an SF author playing with time and space this much since reading Stephen Baxter. Not only is the book a real thriller, it is full of people who seem real enough to be familiar to you. Beyond a mind-bending plot with some speculative nine-dimensional physics to pull you in, where in the future effects the past in order to bring about a certain future, it is also an amazingly accurate study of human beings and various cultures and their rea ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Marc rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Robert C. Wilson me dejó un sabor agridulce con su primera novela que leí, Darwinia, y cuando empecé a leer Los cronolitos (2002) me dio cierto temor empezar una novela que juega con los conceptos temporales. Miedos infundados. Una novela candidata al premio Hugo de 2002 y co-ganadora del premio John W. Campbell Memorial de ese mismo año por fuerza debía de tener algo especial. ¿Me equivoqué?

En un futuro cercano la sociedad mundial se ve sacudida por la misteriosa aparición de monumentos por tod
James Spencer
Jan 17, 2016 James Spencer rated it did not like it
This novel is very poorly thought out. The plot lacks details that anyone in the character's situation would simply not overlook. It also needlessly includes events that do nothing to move the story forward. It feels like someone in authority "suggested" that the author include some arbitrary violent sexual content.

Specific points: characters given years to plan for an event they know to be made hugely dangerous by extreme cold struggle to arrive at the appointed time and appear to have foregon
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
May 05, 2014 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 20, 2015 Denis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover
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.
Mar 20, 2015 Oscar_LRB rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
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Time Travel: THE CHRONOLITHS: General Discussion (*spoilers*) 38 46 Dec 09, 2011 01:20PM  
  • Terraforming Earth
  • Bones of the Earth
  • The Years Of The City
  • Brother to Dragons
  • Song of Time
  • In War Times
  • Learning the World: A Scientific Romance
  • Genesis
  • Beyond Apollo
  • End of an Era
  • The Time Ships
  • Titan
  • Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede
  • Ship of Fools
  • Eifelheim
  • Omega (The Academy, #4)
  • On Wings of Song
  • Fairyland
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.” 9 likes
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