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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling tale
In the year 2021, Scott Warden finds himself caught up in a historical event. When he goes to investigate a mysterious explosion in Chumphon, Thailand, he discovers a giant monument, a monument commemorating the victory of a conqueror some twenty years in the future! It is only first of many that begin to pop up around the world, convincing multitudes that the conqueror...
Published on 12 Feb 2004 by Kurt A. Johnson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, Poignant And Yet A Big Disappointment
I have come to The Chronolits with huge expectations: it's been hailed as a masterpiece of modern sci-fi, mentioned by Time magazine as the notable book of the year, and so on.

And yet (or perhaps because of those expectations), the book has been a he anti-climax for me.

There is nothing wrong with it as such: in fact both the science element in the...
Published on 23 Mar 2009 by MD Healey


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, Poignant And Yet A Big Disappointment, 23 Mar 2009
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This review is from: The Chronoliths (Mass Market Paperback)
I have come to The Chronolits with huge expectations: it's been hailed as a masterpiece of modern sci-fi, mentioned by Time magazine as the notable book of the year, and so on.

And yet (or perhaps because of those expectations), the book has been a he anti-climax for me.

There is nothing wrong with it as such: in fact both the science element in the science-fiction and the speculative element in the speculative fiction is developed brilliantly.

The idea that time travel of sorts (i.e. sending objects from the future into the past) can be used to influence the events between the sending and the appearance of the object is an eminently original take on time travel and explores philosophical implications of knowledge about future inevitabilities.

The world building, although subtle and without much exposition, is very skilfully and the mood of millennial gloom and millennial madness is brilliantly caught.

So why am I giving this, clearly above-average book, only the average number of stars?

Wilson has been praised for character development, and I think the main character is exactly where the problem for me lies with Chronoliths: it seems to me that the author aimed for an Everyman figure caught in the vortex of non-causal inevitability.

This worked, but in addition to that, for some reason the main character and the narrator is rather inexplicably (or was I too thick to understand the subtleties) guilt ridden, miserable and depressingly depressive.

He feels guilty for the failure of his marriage (even though it was his wife who left him and divorced for an event he had absolutely no responsibility for). He feels guilty for her daughter's illness ending in a hearing loss in one ear (even though it was caused by an infection that he wouldn't have been able to stop). He feels a failure when he's sacked from his job (even though it wasn't his fault at all).

He 's also (subtly, but noticeably) very American, middle class and rather right-wing in all his fatherly impulses. Ouch. No, I didn't like Scott Warden at all, and I felt the book was written as if I was supposed to like him. The subtle self pity didn't help either.

I am probably a bit harsh and it should really be 3.5 stars, averaging from four for ideas, four for world building and one for the main character I just couldn't stand. But Amazon doesn't give me such an option, so three stars it has to be.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enthralling tale, 12 Feb 2004
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Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Chronoliths (Hardcover)
In the year 2021, Scott Warden finds himself caught up in a historical event. When he goes to investigate a mysterious explosion in Chumphon, Thailand, he discovers a giant monument, a monument commemorating the victory of a conqueror some twenty years in the future! It is only first of many that begin to pop up around the world, convincing multitudes that the conqueror coming is inevitable, and perhaps desirable. Pulled along by unseen forces through an increasingly chaotic world, Scott must live his life, while simultaneously aiding an old friend, a friend who wants to stop that future conqueror.
In this book, Robert Wilson succeeds is building and maintaining an enthralling level of suspense. His characters are interesting, but it is the situation that is so fascinating. Indeed, I found the story eminently believable, and was swept along with it. I highly recommend this fascinating book.
[As an aside, I am a fan of Messrs. Strauss and Howe, and their generational theories. This book went along excellently with it, with the main character picking up on generational differences.]
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3.0 out of 5 stars Well written, though slightly weak, character based sci-fi., 19 Jun 2012
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Willy Eckerslike (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Chronoliths (Paperback)
Having thoroughly enjoyed `Spin', I was keen to read more of Wilson's work. However, perhaps my expectations were too high. Like `Spin', the narrative is primarily character based with the science fiction providing the plot lines; this is a good thing and made for a readable tale. The apocalyptic, gloomy atmosphere is superbly handled, but the tau-thingy science lost me, I couldn't really see the purpose of the Chronoliths in the first place (why would a future warlord bother to send monuments back in time?) and the ending was a rushed & baffling damp squib (reading the last couple of chapters twice didn't help at all). Perhaps I am being a little harsh and maybe I missed the point as, on reflection, the post-non-war recovery and the application of the tau-thingy stuff to star travel is a reaffirmation of the old ` it's an ill wind...blah...blah' adage. I definitely like Wilson's style, however, so I've just ordered `Blind Lake'. Watch this space...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, 2 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Chronoliths (Paperback)
I enjoyed it more than any other of his books. A reasonable time travel story, and was not altogether obvious. I couldnt put it down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, and it made me go look up Calabi-Yau, 10 Aug 2007
This review is from: The Chronoliths (Mass Market Paperback)
I've been working hard to read a lot of the ARC's I received at Book Expo America and have read and reviewed three. But on a recent trip, I finished one and had only my trusty backup emergency paperback in my bag. It was The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson, recommended to me by my friend Christopher (who also turned me on to Illium).

Christopher is 2 for 2; I could not put this book down. And he made me use the Internet to connect the dots of my long ago Physics degree and go back and refresh my old brain on manifolds and their relationship to quantum mechanics (yeah, I know...geek boy).

The Chronoliths tells of massive monuments that spring up instantaneously, the first one in Thailand, observed by our main character Scott. All of them have inscriptions of a battle won some twenty years in the future by a warlord named Kuin. Another springs up in the middle of Bangkok, causing devastation. The monuments are named Chronoliths, and begin showing up all over Asia, apparently foretelling the path of conquest of this future warlord.

The science is, of course, how can these monoliths be sent twenty years back in time, and how to stop them. Because as they appear with alarming regularity, mankind begins to believe that there is no way to stop them and society sees itself as doomed. A former college professor of Scott's, Sue Chopra, believes she can first predict and then stop the Chronolith's from forming, with some string theory / M-theory constructs:

I did not then and I do not now understand the physics of the Chronoliths, except in the pop-science sense. I know the technology involves the manipulation of Calabi-Yau spaces, which are the smallest constituent parts of both matter and energy, and that it uses a technique called slow fermionic decohesion to do this at practical energy levels. As to what really happens down there in the tangled origami of spacetime, I remain as ignorant as a newborn infant.

The pacing is this book is perfectly written. The science is integrated in with the story so that you barely notice it, done so by having the point of view for the novel from a man who is not a physicist or mathematician, so information gets dumbed down for him. But the science is written in a way that it made me follow the links back through the Internet to get an update on these theories. As was discussed during a session at Apollocon today (see John's notes at SF Signal), it's called science fiction for a reason; don't use them as science text books, but they make you think, remember and research the current theories and learnings.

Also, as a counterpoint to string theory, see Peter Woit's blog.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Exciting put in scene, disappointing elaboration, 28 Dec 2010
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This review is from: The Chronoliths (Mass Market Paperback)
The premise of this book is compelling: giant obelisks sent back in time by some future warlord, cities destroyed, the future molding itself acting on the past. It makes you think on a story dealing with time-loops issues, scientific speculation, worldwide geopolitic action... but nothing of this is delivered. The author preferred to focus on the tribulations of a couple of characters, coming back to the main topic now and again and always marginally. The sci-fi content of the story is rather poor, and the ending is frustating at its best: abrupt, anti-climatic, and non-informative.

It's disappointing to see how a brilliant premise is wasted in this way. Surely the author could have done much better.
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The Chronoliths
The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson (Mass Market Paperback - 30 July 2002)
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