Feature Review: The
Tor (Paperback): ISBN 0812545249 June 2002
Review by Karen Burnham
320 pages List price $6.99
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Chronoliths is a novel that sucks you in from the beginning. There
really aren't any slow parts to this novel. In contrast to your average
SF book however, the most moving action is almost entirely based in the
human drama, rather than in the SFnal aspects.
story starts in
they are investigating this momentous event, Scott's daughter Kaitlin
has gotten a nasty
bacterial infection. His wife Janice has to cope with a seriously ill
toddler in a foreign country by herself. Although she manages to get
Kaitlin to an American hospital, the toddler is left almost completely
deaf. Janice goes back home and promptly files for divorce.
rest of the book follows the repercussions of Scott's placement at that
moment. As the beginning suggests, there are two major plotlines here,
with Scott the link between them. In the chronolith plotline, an old
physics professor contacts Scott. Sulamith Chopra (Sue) is fascinated by
the fact that he was present when the first chronolith touched down. She
says he has been caught in the "tau-turbulence" of the
chronoliths. Her specialty is the physics of time, and she does not
believe in coincidences. She finds him a job as an algorithm developer.
He is thus at the center of the efforts to find the answers: Who is Kuin?
Why are these specific places being chosen for monuments (most of them
have no apparent tactical value)? What do they tell us about the nature
of time? How are they produced and how can they be stopped?
manage to find ways to predict where the next ones will appear.
However, they have to work around the pro-Kuinist forces that
feel that trying to interfere with the man who must be humanity's
salvation is foolish. These groups pilgrimage to chronolith sites and
use violence against those interfering with them. Sue, becoming more and
more knowledgeable about how the monuments are made, becomes a focal
point of the conflict. Even
Hitch Paley has a role in her organization, running interference against
the Kuinist factions. The chronolith sites are first concentrated in
other story, the one that actually keeps the pages turning, is that of
Scott's personal drama. He does his best to be a good part-time father
to Kaitlin. As she grows up, they are quite close. Then his involvement
in the chronolith project takes him away from her for a while. Being a
rebellious teenager, and encouraged by her stepfather, Kaitlin runs away
from home to join a pro-Kuinist pilgrimage to
strong point is the pacing. Although the book covers roughly 50 years of
Scott's life, it does not get bogged down in trivial detail. If seven
years pass without any major event from Scott's point of view, the
chapter begins, "Seven years later..." If we're lucky, this
will start a new trend for slimmer novels.
science of this story is its weakest point. The chronoliths themselves
are the backdrop against which Scott's story unfolds. In them
is the opposite of the science fiction that I usually enjoy. I generally
prefer to focus on the science instead of the characters.