Seth's Reviews > The Chronoliths

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson
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did not like it
bookshelves: 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 protagonist. And somewhere, someone obviously told Wilson that he was too squeamish to write the hard stuff, or that his books were light on violence, or something of that nature.

As a result, Chroniliths is full of macho posturing and writer show-offiness. Minor characters are pulled aside into scenes of brutal violence that neither advance the plot nor develop character, yet are shown in unnecessary detail. Meanwhile, the important violence--the one that shows how the world is falling into the trap that led/will lead to the Chronoliths in the first place--is off-camera and reduced to hearsay.

I don't mind violent stories. This came nowhere near to squicking me. But violence that seems to be showing off how the author can be crude and cruel (to the reader) is distracting from the plot and the characters.

It didn't help that the story itself has little tension until the ending. Time travel stories are hard to wrap up in a satisfying manner and Wilson does a good job (although nowhere near as good as, say, Michael Swanwick in Bones of the Earth, which was also Hugo-nominated that year).

I made it through this one, and I'm glad I did, but there are too many good books out there to recommend it.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 18, 2007 – Shelved
August 16, 2007 – Shelved as: crap
October 7, 2008 – Shelved as: science-fiction

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