Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Chronoliths

I just finished reading Robert Charles Wilson's, The Chronoliths. It's a sci-fi book about these huge monuments made of some exotic/frozen/indestructible substance that are violently appearing all across Asia. They are apparently shrines to a military leader named "Kuin" and they are inscribed with writing commemorating conquests 20 years in the future. More accurately the book is about a man, Scott, who finds his life intertwined in these events. It was a wonderful story. The characters were supremely developed and the plot moved along briskly. The physics of the time travel was kept at a "pop" level through the clever use of a first person POV from Scott in which he declared his understanding was only at that level. However, the book came up short in the end. I won't ruin the ending, but I just found the time travel logic way too faulty. It was almost as if Wilson hadn't thought it through, which is hard to believe when you see how much thought he puts into the characters.

I had essentially the same experience with his other work that I read not too long ago, Spin. The stories are quite similar in nature and both were beautifully written. I just need more resolution at the end. There is a huge sci-fi build up in both stories , and both leave you thinking, "Ehhh I dunno about that." Great reads certainly. A more human relationship-centric story than sci-fi, but slight let downs at the end.

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Anonymous said...

finished the book less than an hour ago... hit the web looking for some discussion on it.

i have to disagree with you on the point about 'faulty time-travel logic'... That's the whole point, you CAN'T think it through...the concept is absurd and mind bending. I don't think you can fault the author for describing it as he did.

I think i agree with you on the part about the ending. I really enjoyed the book (first book of his that i've read) but felt somewhat dissatisfied at the end. BUt maybe that's the sign of a good book--i didnt want it to end, i wanted more.

anyway...i'm gonna try to get a copy of 'spin'... i suppose i lucked out when i found chronoliths at a garage sale.

Tay Ween said...

Wow I actually got a comment and had no idea. Hadn't found the moderate comments section. My apologies to you Mr. Anonymous for having ignored you.

The book was great, no doubt about it. I just don't think I buy the can't think it through argument though. If you buy into that, then you can invent anything out of thin air and have it make the least amount of sense possible and have that be considered good? I know I'm stretching that to the limit but still.

It does create an infinte loop in your head when you try and think about it which is pretty trippy like you said. I guess I shouldn't fault the author either, but I do think time travel can be wild and trippy AND make sense.

Try going on amazon and searching under the used books section. You can usually find any book you want for less than a few bucks.