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City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Metachronopolis is the city at the end of time. It's where time travellers live, referred to as "time wardens". They're the ones who keep things organised -- well, at least they're supposed to. Like police in many parts of today's world, a lot of them are corrupt and self seeking.
They're not the only ones there. Just about every famous personality in history is also there. The time wardens are capable of showing up an instant before a person's death, and replacing them with a dead clone of themselves. It happens in a split second, so no one sees it happening. In other words, that wasn't John F. Kennedy's body you saw being rushed to the hospital on that momentous day in 1963, but his clone.
In each tale, Wright does a different acrobatic stunt, each with an unexpected twist on time travel. They're all stand alone stories, but the last sort of ties the whole concept together by showing us what it's really all about.
A must read...
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The rest of the review is my notes for the Hugo nomination novella : The Plural of Helen of Troy
The backwards in time storytelling reminiscent of Memento worked, as there was a reason for it beyond just being a storytelling trick. The characters were very enjoyable, especially as Wright kept unraveling the layers of the story. Even the simple conversation with the first Helen took on new meaning as the story progressed. Wright’s strength in this story (and also in Pale Reams of Shade) are in the unraveling of the onion, revealing with time throughout the story — longer stories are better suited for Mr. Wright’s skills.
The premise was great (a better version of Enterprise’s temporal cold war), and as a Protestant, I would say I saw shades of purgatory in the story (near the end). And as far as the purgatory goes, I liked this presentation. One of the sad realities of our mechanistic/utilitarian world seems to be that even in our fiction we don’t have room for the ineffable and hopeful, and so even stories about people fighting for a better world (all of them) leaves the world sterile and without heart — not even a simple concept of good vs evil is allowed. Wright’s Jake is like David Dunn from Unbreakable, there is a hole in his heart, a sense of loss that comes out in his jaded interactions with the world, and this is because the purpose and meaning of life has been taken them.
Wright made me think of time travel in a new way, and he does this by thoroughly exploring not only the logical and illogical consequences of time-travel, but also the spiritual and moral consequences of the act. If you can use time travel to erase your mistakes, what does that mean for right and wrong? Why not commit whatever terrible act you think of on a whim if you can always go back and undo it ... if you want to. The stories are all excellent, with a lot of suspenseful and haunting tales. The first one, Murder in Metachronopolis, is probably my favorite. I only wish there were even more stories in this book.
Wright fully deserves high praise for writing a set of very inventive, intelligent stories that thoroughly examine the inner effects of time travel just as much as the temporal ones. These stories made me excited to read science fiction again. Great stories, and I hope we see more from him in this vein. And someone call Hollywood and put Jake Frontino on the big screen!
I've always liked the time travel themes and have been interested in Castalia House, so figured this would be a good book to start with from the publisher and to try to get back into reading sci-fi again. I was not disappointed. It was an interesting take on the theme that dealt with some of the moral issues without being preachy. I especially liked the idea that, "If time travel is possible, then it will eventually be discovered and will therefore ALWAYS exist." Adding in the alternate timelines did get very confusing at times, but gave an interesting perspective.
I think I would like to read more from this author and this publisher.
Among the standouts I would call out the Hugo nominated "The Plural Of Helen Of Troy" and the brief sidestep into SciFi/Horror, "The Slayer Of Souls." These two stood out for me, even amongst tales of hardened PIs solving their own murders, soldiers facing down the choice of duty or love, the prenuptial trials of the chosen bride of a Time Warden, and more…
All in all, quite good. Wright creates his universe, a universe without (as mentioned) the limitations of linear time, of cause and effect, and then plays within it for all he's worth. He stays within the rules (such as they are!) of this universe, and takes the reader on a mind bending ride throughout the ages…
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