Chris's Reviews > The Chronoliths

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson
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Feb 09, 08

bookshelves: science-fiction
Read in November, 2006

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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