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The Chronoliths

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  4,571 ratings  ·  298 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
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published August 11th 2001 by Tor Books (first published August 2001)
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3.67  · 
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 ·  4,571 ratings  ·  298 reviews

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Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 28, 2012 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
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 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
Daniel Roy
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Storyline: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 4/5

This is one of my favorite science fiction reads thus far this year. Others I've enjoyed about as much include The Mote in God's Eye and Anvil of Stars, though I think The Chronoliths was the best of the three. I would place it on a shelf with "idea" books - a category I very much enjoy. Other, similar books that it shares shelf space with include Philip Jose Farmer's To Your Scattered Bodies Go, John Scalzi's Old Man's War, Vernor Vinge's
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
Jamie Rich
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Chronoliths (Mass Market Paperback) by Robert Charles Wilson

A quick read, but the ride goes on. What if you could change the future by inserting a menssage into the past? Yes, I know it's been done before. But the author does it so well, and leaves enough mystery to make this work very well. Our characters are complex, and the narrative is just disjointed enough to make you believe.
You truly do get that sense of impending doom as each monument arrives. And the reactions of the world's popul
May 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Frankly, I don't think I'm able to say much about it because I don't think I understood it completely. No, I'm sure I didn't.

The premise is this: chronoliths are suddenly starting to appear all over Asia and expand in some other regions. They are monuments from an unknown material which praise the victory of one named Kuin in wars which will occur 20 years in the future. Nobody knows who is Kuin, but the world is thrown into chaos, because some of these giants appeared in the middle of cities, d
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
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael Burnam-Fink
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Really creative sci-fi is rare these days, and The Chronoliths is one of those rare pleasures. "Software designer Scott Warden is living with his family in early twenty-first century Thailand after his latest contract has ended. He and his friend Hitch Paley are among the first to find an enormous monolith which appears out of nowhere in the jungle. On closer examination, it is found to be a monument made of a mysterious, indestructible substance. It bears an inscription commemorating a military ...more
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this in 1997 and quietly slipped into a coma from which I've only recently awakened.
Pier Virgilio Vassalli
Genere: Fantascienza

Target – Tipo di lettore:
[ ] Lettore giovanissimo: Gnometto – ★
[ ] Lettore adolescente: Vampiro – ★ ★
[x] Lettore casuale: Orco – ★ ★ ★
[ ] Lettore Pro: Sfinge – ★ ★ ★ ★
[ ] Lettore Selettivo: Alto Elfo – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

[ ] Banale – ★
[ ] Niente di innovativo – ★★
[x] Originale – ★★★
[ ] Senza fiato – ★★★★
[ ] Brividi – ★★★★★

[ ] Non delineata – ★
[x] Dimenticabile – ★ ★
[ ] Mediocre – ★ ★ ★
[ ] Bellissima – ★ ★ ★ ★
[ ] Capolavoro – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Profondità dei
Adelaide Blair
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-challenge
Kursad Albayraktaroglu
This was an entertaining read with some interesting ideas, and I think the storytelling was first rate. I enjoyed reading about how the global unrest at the center of the plot developed over the years, and how people all over the world were yielding to pessimism and a feeling of inevitability.

Throughout the book, the author sets up a few cunning traps and keeps the reader wondering about what the major plot twist will be. I entertained various possible scenarios; and was fairly confident that o
Laura 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
Al Swanson
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi
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
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 18, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Halsted Bernard
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
Nov 15, 2011 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
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
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
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
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Time Travel: THE CHRONOLITHS: General Discussion (*spoilers*) 38 50 Dec 09, 2011 01:20PM  

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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).
“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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