Fiction Review

The Chronoliths

(2001) Robert Charles Wilson, Tor, 5.99/US$6.99, pbk, pp315, ISBN 0-812-54524-9


Scott Warden is an idle, care-free young US citizen spending a few years partying on the beach in Thailand. Then he witnesses the first of a series of arrivals. The appearance, in a wave of ionising radiation and sucking the heat from the air and soil, of a massive monolith, a monument from 16 years into the future marking the achievements of some great dictator. The appearance changes his life as he is sucked up into the subsequent temporal events. Others monuments to the dictator Kuin appear, sometimes in the middle of cities killing thousands. And there is a vague pattern to their appearance as if an army is marching across the Earth. Then scientists learn how to predict their - the chronoliths - arrival. But who is the future dictator Kuin? As the chronoliths all date from just a decade and a half into the future then Kuin should be alive now? As the implications behind these questions rock global society, our protagonist has to find his own answers...

OK. So much for the plot tease. Is this a cracking book or is it a cracking book? Answer: Well Robert Charles Wilson has yet to disappoint and once more he is true to form. We have reviewed the man before with his 1999 novel Bios (and Darwinia was great too). This author continues to punch above his weight. Solid science (to the point of SF), excellent characters, drama, an ambience of the unknown and a sense of wonder are all here. And Robert Charles Wilson cannot seem to help but continue to bring these elements together. However the man seems to be an excellent secret. UK book chains do not keep him on their shelves! More fool them. Pain in the btm for us. Wilson, though, is one author some of us on the Concat team now look out for in specialist shops as an import. If your local SF store does not have him then do yourself and others a favour and rectify the situation.

Jonathan Cowie

Note: The Chronoliths won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

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