Wilson, Robert C. The Chronoliths. New York: Tor, 2001.
Reason read: October is “Star Man” month and The Chronoliths is sort of about time travel…
Scott Warden as an old man is writing his memoirs about his involvement with the Chronoliths. When he begins his story the year is 21st century. The place is Thailand. Scott and his family are hanging out in a beach side town “busy doing something close to nothing” when a huge 200 foot structure in the form of monument appears in the jungled interior. This is no ordinary monument. Its arrival changed the climate, destroyed acres worth of trees and spewed ionizing radiation. But even more curious is the inscription, commemorating a victorious battle sixteen years into the future. Then, another monument appears in downtown Bangkok, killing thousands. Again it commemorates a victory years into the future. Because Scott and a friend the first ones to arrive on the scene of the original monument, they are irrevocably linked to the phenomenon. A scientist from Scott’s past recruits him to study the structures in an effort to thwart a future warlord from destroying society.
The Chronoliths is futuristic enough to acknowledge the world had progressed but not so much that it wasn’t recognizable to the reader. Some examples: Scott lived in a society where smokers needed to hold an “addict’s” license. Wilson makes some interesting predictions about human behavior and advances in technologies. Portable communication technologies are very similar to what we have today but were virtually unheard of in 2001.
But interestingly enough, the world had also regressed (the draft was introduced in 2029).
As an aside – I wish the editor had done a little better job of catching inconsistencies. Adam on page 146 was eighteen but by page 149 he was seventeen.
Quotes to quote: “But what the hard admits isn’t always what the heart allows” (p 60) and “Adulthood is the art of deceit” (p 153).
Author fact: Wilson is an American-born science fiction writer living in Canada. Given the climate of today, lucky him.
Book trivia: the disclaimer reads, “This is a work of fiction. All of the characters and events portrayed in this novel are either fictitious or used fictitiously.”
Nancy said: The Chronoliths is included in a list of other books about time travel that might be enjoyed.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Time Travel” (p 220). As an aside, I should note, humans do not time travel but monuments celebrating military victories twenty years into the future randomly appear, at first across Asia and then North America.