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The Chronoliths Audible – Unabridged

3.8 out of 5 stars 162 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 19 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.com Release Date: September 22, 2009
  • Whispersync for Voice: Ready
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002Q1IU1M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I once read an interview with Peter F. Hamilton (author of the Night's Dawn Trilogy) where he stated that the trick to writing good science fiction was including enough detail to make the story plausible, but not enough that it evoked serious criticism from the reader. "The devil", the common wisdom goes, "is in the details."
In "The Chronoliths", Robert Charles Wilson demonstrates an understanding of that balance. Moreover, he has artfully wrapped it in a refreshing plot and sprinkled it with characters that seem to be underappreciated by other reviewers who have written here. The details surrounding the space-time concepts and exotic particle physics seem plausible enough for the near-future genre, but the crisp ideas that give this book strength lie not in the hard sciences, but in sociology. Wilson firmly grasps one of the most fundamental concepts in sociology - the concept of reification. As the chronoliths appear, marking sites where Kuin is victorious in battles 20 years into the future, the idea of reification emerges as the backdrop of the novel. Though Kuin is unknown, posses no army or resources, he comes to be recognized as the unstoppable conqueror in the minds of people who begin seeking to join him - it is the monuments that created Kuin. The central question becomes, "How is it that an idea that exists in the minds of people becomes external to them and coercive of them?"
Despite what some reviewers have submitted, I think Wilson demonstrates talent for character development; the problem is that he doesn't seem to favor these characters consistently. Scott is undeniably developed, anyone can relate to his inconsistencies, his loyalties, his fears and his needs.
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Format: Hardcover
What would you do if, very suddenly, an enormous blue glass obelisk appeared in the middle of your city, destroying much of it and killing thousands? And the inscription at its base indicated that it was a monument raised by a victorious warlord a couple of decades in the future? That's the armature around which Wilson has constructed this story of Scott Warden, skilled mid-level computer tech, and his ex-wife and daughter. There's also his sort-of buddy, Hitch Paley, and Sue Chopra, his sometime employer and perhaps the only person who can get a handle on what the monuments mean. Because they continue to appear over the years, apparently mirroring the conquests of Kuin, all across Asia and the Middle East and then Latin America. Who is Kuin -- or, rather, who will he be? Should the world prepare to try to fight him? Or just regard his ascendancy as inevitable and accommodate him? But there might not be much of a society left by the time of Kuin's arrival. The thing is, this is actually the story of the people involved, what they go through over the course of the pre-Kuin years, how they adapt to economic collapse and the spread of military & governmental secrecy and power born of desperation. It's a very powerful story and it's the first work by Wilson I've read, but it certainly won't be the last.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
As many other reviewers have said, the concept of this book is very interesting. However, two things annoyed me about the book. First, there are numerous plot mistakes in the story. Stupid little things that probably won't annoy everyone but did annoy me. For example, characters don thermal protective suits in order to avoid freezing during an arrival. However, these suits don't seem to include gloves as people routinely touch freezing metal and leave skin behind. A minor oversight perhaps, but hard to believe that they would forget to include gloves. Small technical discrepencies like this abound and are distracting because they hurt the story's plausibility.
Second, the ending was not very satisfying. The end just doesn't have any real payoff. You don't cheer for the hero because he isn't very likeable. You don't really cheer for anyone. This book reminded me of Robert Silverberg's The Alien Years. Both books have a similar melancholy tone and unsatisfying endings.
I wanted to like this book but cannot heartily recommend it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I haven't read any of Robert Charles Wilson's other books, so I don't know how typical this one is of his output. But it's a darned fine book. It's difficult to review it without including any spoilers, but I won't give away any details that you wouldn't learn in the first few pages.
Here's the deal: It's 2021, and software developer Scott Warden is hanging out in Thailand with his wife and daughter when a big giant monument just sort of _appears_ out of nowhere, causing massive damage and death. What's even odder is that an inscription on the monument (dubbed a "Chronolith" by journalists) makes clear that it commemorates some sort of military victory by somebody named "Kuin" -- twenty years and three months in the future.
The rest of the story, of course, I'm not going to tell you. But it's very cool.
It will probably take you eighty or a hundred pages to get your mind around Warden (at least it did me). He's not in general a very sympathetic character, but give him time to grow on you; he's as interestingly flawed as, say, Charlie Armstead in Spider and Jeanne Robinson's _Stardance_, and you'll find that there _are_ reasons he's the way he is.
You'll also like Sulamith (Sue) Chopra, an academic odd duck who is both an engaging character and a handy person to have around for another reason.
See, most of the actual _science_ in this book takes place offstage, and Wilson relies on a device that's at least as old as Dr. John H. Watson's chronicles of Sherlock Holmes: there really _is_ some science behind the events in the novel, but the narrator isn't the one who knows it, so he conveniently doesn't have to explain it.
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